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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Student earns share of president’s Nobel money

A UA student was named an Obama Scholar this semester for his interest in becoming a teacher.

Robert Jaramillo, an elementary education junior, was one of 12 students selected from more than 2,000 applications to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund from all over the country for the 2011-2012 school year.

“I just applied, hoping for the best, and I ended up getting it,” Jaramillo said. “I didn’t expect to receive such an award and just applying was an honor.”

The President Obama / HSF STEM Teacher Scholarship Program is funded by a $125,000 donation by President Barack Obama. In 2010, Obama split $1.4 million, his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winnings, among 10 charities, including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, an organization that has been providing financial assistance for Latinos seeking a college education since 1975. This year marks the second class of Obama Scholars.

“I was very surprised and pleased,” said Frank Alvarez, president and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, about Obama’s donation. “All that was communicated to me was that the president wanted it to go to scholarships, so we crafted our own program that was designed for Hispanic students interested in the STEM field and education.”

STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, were topics Alvarez said he felt the president stressed when talking about education. The scholarship awards $5,000 split over two years to college juniors exploring these fields and planning to become teachers.

“Part of the application required them to talk about their aspirations in teaching and why they wanted to pursue it. It was a very selective and competitive process this year,” said Jaramillo, who found out he won the scholarship over the summer. Jaramillo said he wants to become a middle school math teacher for underperforming schools when he graduates from the UA.

“I have always enjoyed helping people,” he said. “And what better way to help someone than to help them learn?”

One person who Jaramillo said inspired him to go into education was his high school math teacher Paul Dye, who worked for the Sunnyside School District in Tucson. He said he remembers Dye stressing the importance of college and that he wants to do the same for a younger age level.

“I want to give students a great foundation in math and give them that fight to go to college, that is my overall goal,” Jaramillo said. “To let them know that college is possible.”

Today, Jaramillo will attend the Alumni Hall of Fame and HSF Education Summit in New York City, where he will be recognized with other Obama scholarship recipients. The summit will also showcase former Hispanic Scholarship Fund winners, who will be inducted into their hall of fame.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase these students and past recipients who are successes themselves,” Alvarez said.

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