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Latino Unity Club offers Reading High scholarship

In its second semester of operation, the Penn State Berks Latino Unity Club is already doing big things. The student club awarded Reading High School senior Angelie Mendez a $500 college scholarship on Monday, May 17, 2010. Mendez will be attending Penn State Berks this fall.

The club began fundraising for the scholarship in the fall 2009 semester, its first semester of operation. Fundraising efforts included bringing a Latin showcase to the campus, which included a traditional Mexican dance team, a Salsa champion, and a guest speaker. They also sold dinner tickets to the Plaza Azteca restaurant in Wyomissing.  

"I think it is so important to give back to your community," says Cory Varona, a junior Business major and president of the Latino Unity Club. "As a Reading High graduate, I feel it is important that students know Penn State Berks is right in their backyard, and they can find so many opportunities on this campus."

Applicants for the scholarship were required to have a 3.0 GPA, be active in school and their community, and also complete an essay on how they can give back to the community. Each applicant was reviewed by all fourteen members of the club.

"Angelie was the right candidate because her grades were excellent, and she has a strong desire to help her community," says Varona. "We all thought she wrote a very touching essay, and in addition, she is very clear in her major and the direction she wants to head in the future. She's a great example for the Latino community."

Looking to the future, the club has plans to renew and grow this scholarship each year. Citing this first fundraising effort as a "learning experience in raising money," Varona says the club will be more experienced next year when they begin fundraising again.

The club also plans to dedicate two of their four monthly meetings to giving back to the campus. They hope to dedicate one night for students to come and practice conversational Spanish and another night for salsa dancing lessons.

When asked about her motivation to give back to the community, Varona states, "I have four sisters, and two of us are in college at the same time. Without all the scholarships I received, I probably wouldn't be here."
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