Latino Students Receive Scholarships From NCLR Escalera Program

May 03 2012


Camila Gallardo
(305) 573-7329

Awards aim to assist Latino students in postsecondary education

Washington—Today, the NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Escalera Program is proud to announce the recipients of its alumni essay contest, sponsored by corporate partners Marriot International, Inc. and Shell. The Escalera Program, founded in 2001, is a national after-school program that promotes upward economic mobility by providing students access to resources and assistance in helping them achieve their educational and career goals. To date, 87 percent of Escalera Program graduates have immediately enrolled in college, and they have stayed in college beyond the first year at an average rate of 89 percent.

Students from throughout the country submitted essays for the contest, and the eight winners were chosen by an accomplished panel of judges that included Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President, Multicultural Sales and Markets, Marriott International, Inc.; Andy Chaves, Corporate Senior Manager, Marriott International, Inc.; Brian Hall, Supplier Diversity and Outreach Specialist, Shell; Lance Alvarez, Business Development Manager of Growth Ventures, Frito Lay; Ronald J. Quintero, Strategy Director, PepsiCo Global Procurement; and Kathy Spicer, volunteer with the KIPP Escalera Program.

Applicants submitted essay responses to questions about the importance of a postsecondary degree and what it means to be a Hispanic student in a postsecondary institution. One grand prize winner received a one-time award of $3,000; three winners each received a one-time award of $1,500; and four winners each received a one-time award of $500.

The 2012 scholarship recipients were:

  • Maria Chavez, DePaul University (Grand Prize)
  • Joanna Barreras, Cal State University, Los Angeles
  • Susy Contreras, Mount St. Mary’s College
  • Joanna Segoviano, San Diego State University
  • Gerardo Gonzalez, University of California, Riverside
  • Danny Martinez, University of Texas, Permian Basin
  • Omri Medina, Pasadena City College
  • Karen Perez, University of Illinois, Chicago

“During a time when the cost of a postsecondary education is becoming further out of reach for students, we are thrilled to award these scholarships to deserving Escalera Program alumni who are leaders in their communities and on college campuses,” said Simon Lopez, Senior Director of Workforce and Leadership Development at NCLR.

According to a recent report by the College Board, only 19.2 percent of Latinos between the ages of 25 and 34 have earned an associate’s degree or higher, a number that is less than half the national average.

“This scholarship contest is one of many ways that NCLR, its Affiliates, and our corporate partners can help Latino students persist in postsecondary education and obtain the academic credentials that are necessary to compete in today’s workforce,” continued Lopez. “These scholarship winners are in the talent pipeline to become the next engineers, psychologists, researchers, nurses, and more.”

Excerpts of several of the winning essays are attached.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Issues: Escalera, Economy and Workforce
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas