My Scholarship Story: Laura Rivera
Women’s Fund Scholarship Recipient Laura K. Rivera Shares Her Story
Laura Rivera, a Spanish and Political Science major and current Vice-President and Student Trustee of Hartnell College, is a recipient of the Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands Scholarship of the Community Foundation for Monterey County.
A first-generation Latina college student named 2022 Young Adult Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Monterey Bay, Laura inspired hundreds of people at the 2023 Women’s Fund Luncheon on May 5th, sharing her story to the packed audience of supporters. Watch or read her remarks below.
Laura’s Story – In Her Own Words
My name is Laura Rivera, I am a Spanish and Political Science major and currently Vice-President and Student Trustee of Hartnell College. It is with heartfelt gratitude that I’m here to express my thanks for the scholarship that has supported me for the past two years. Your generosity has been a beacon of hope in my life, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me.
Navigating the System
As a low-income, first-generation Latina student attending Hartnell College the road to higher education has not been easy. I started attending Soledad High School in 2016 and never would I have imagined what those four years had in store for me.
I kept moving forward, I wanted to give back to my community and learn as much as I could.” – Laura Rivera
Navigating the school system while being undocumented often made me feel alone and out of place. I was always a 4.0 student who stayed involved in extracurriculars. But even though I always tried my hardest, somehow the system kept denying opportunities that everyone else could have. Documentation was always standing in the way. Nonetheless, I kept moving forward, I wanted to give back to my community and learn as much as I could.
Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands
It was then that I joined the Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands program and was able to receive tremendous support from an amazing group of women. We were always encouraged to do more and reach for the stars. It was thanks to them that I decided to enroll in Hartnell College to continue with higher education.
As I was getting ready to graduate high school, I would worry thinking how I would pay for college and other expenses but to my surprise, I was awarded the Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands scholarship. When I received the news that I had been awarded the scholarship, I was overjoyed. The financial burden of attending college was one that I had been carrying on my shoulders for some time, and the thought of being able to focus solely on my studies was a relief. I believed in myself but being awarded this scholarship was a reaffirmation from my community, that I indeed, deserved the scholarship.
A World of Difference
Over the past two years, the scholarship has made a world of difference. It has allowed me to purchase textbooks, pay for transportation, and cover other expenses that would have otherwise been out of reach. Instead of having to worry about choosing between my education or bringing food to the table, I could now just worry about getting good grades. I no longer had to work extensive hours out in the fields or low-paying restaurant jobs. This scholarship granted me a piece of mind.
As I approach the end of my community college journey, I am filled with a sense of hope and excitement for what is to come. While at Hartnell, I’ve had the honor to serve my student community as Vice-President and Student Trustee.
Paying it Forward
Outside of my studies, I was honored as the 2022 Young Adult Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Monterey Bay Chapter. I was recognized for creating a project that distributed hygiene products for menstruating people and leading an effort to distribute N95 face masks for field workers during both pandemic and the 2020 wildfires.
If I’ve learned anything about being in the philanthropic world, it’s that anyone can pay it forward.” – Laura Rivera
I look forward to doing so as I continue to pursue my educational journey. I plan to transfer to a 4-year university this year and eventually, pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer.
Lastly, I want to express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you. Your investment in my education has not only impacted my life, but it has given me hope and has inspired me to continue to strive for excellence. I hope that one day, I will be able to give back to my community in the same way that you have given to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.