Fifty-five scholarships were awarded this morning to worthy students based on criteria of academic performances as well as financial needs. The recipients came from all over the country and converged at the Biltmore Plaza where they were all smiles at the opportunity to further their studies. They were all deserving of the scholarships and in the case of Rudy Mendez, he was thirteen years old when his mother took her life and his father was behind bars. Duane Moody and intern Chelsea Wagner were at the ceremony this morning.
Chelsea Wagner, Reporting
Today the Social Security Board held its thirteenth annual awards ceremony at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. There were a total of fifty-five scholarships at secondary and tertiary levels which were granted to successful candidates countrywide. The S.S.B.’s communications officer, Gayle Ozaeta, says the successful students were chosen from a group of three hundred and eleven applicants.
Gayle Ozaeta, Communications Office, S.S.B.
“We looked at their academic performances, we looked at their financial needs; we also looked at the way they crafted their application letter and also their commitment to education.”
“How many students were there from each category?”
“From each category…it is a total of fifty-five students. We have fifteen sixth form scholarships that were awarded, we have thirty-seven high school scholarships and we had three from the vocational/technical section.”
For Rudy Mendez, the opportunity was a milestone in his continuous journey from trial to triumph. Throughout his adolescence, he had to work to put himself through school and today, along with his employer, Orlando De La Fuente, he shared his experience.
Rudy Mendez, Scholarship Recipient
“I received a call that I was able to get the scholarship. So I got the letter for an interview, then I went to the interview and now for the ceremony.”
“Could you tell us how does this assist you? Is this something that is very difficult for you and your family to find finances for education?”
“Well basically, this assists me because I am independent. I am on my own; I don’t have any guardians, no parents. So it is really a great help. I thank God for this help because without these people’s help that I am getting I wouldn’t be where I am reaching my goals.”
Orlando De La Fuente
Orlando De La Fuente, Employer of Rudy Mendez
“I think he dah one of the most worthy recipients of this scholarship and if you were to hear his story it is a little sad because his mom committed suicide when he was thirteen, his dad went to jail and he put himself through school. Right now, he is twenty-one….you could say most twenty-one years olds would have finished high school and sixth form already, but because he has to work and pay his way through school, it took him the extra years.”
The excitement from Johan Miranda for the opportunity to further his education was overwhelming. Miranda will be attending Wesley College in Belize City.
Johan Miranda, Scholarship Recipient
“Receiving the scholarship is a big step in my education. It allows me to reach further and I feel like it is a big help. I am very grateful to the Social Security Board; it was a lot and I feel that I worked hard and I will only work harder in the future.”
“What are your goals for the future?”
“My goals…I want to be a lawyer and the main goal I have is to improve in myself. No matter how much I go, I want to improve; every single year I want to improve.”
Following the ceremonies, students and parents gathered to sign their scholarship contracts with the S.S.B. But according to Ozaeta, the scholarships can be revoked if the requirements are not met.
“There are some requirements that they have to satisfy and this automatically becomes their obligation. One of course is that they need to fulfill the actual grade point average that we accept as the minimum grade that they should receive to maintain their scholarships. They also must maintain good conduct, good behavior throughout the four years of high school and for those at the sixth form level, the two years.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Chelsea Wagner.