Scholarship Winners!

Meet our deserving winners, read their bios and leave a few words of encouragement.

= multi-year scholarships awarded!

Luz Celina Vazquez Hernandez

Track & Field
Michigan State University

2021 AAO Scholarship Winner

Being a squad leader as a freshmen was the first position Luz had in being a leader to her platoon in Junior Reserve Officer Corps at Mulberry Senior High School. She was required to lead her platoon at formations and during physical training. This was a position that very few Freshmen were ever assigned. After joining Teen Trendsetters, she had the opportunity to be a mentor to students in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Twice a week she would read to the students to help them improve in their reading and writing skills. She also personally worked with non-English speaking students from Guatemala who struggled speaking English and helped them in any way she could so they could learn to read and write better. Luz was President of the Adelante Club for 2 years during high school. This experience was most memorable for her, because she had a chance to meet many important people within her community. She delivered boxes of food, volunteered at several local churches and had the opportunity to partner with many food bank organizations. She carried and delivered hundreds of food boxes to the local low income Hispanic families in the Mulberry FL area.

Luz’s first goal was to graduate from Mulberry Senior High School this May 2021 to honor her parents sacrifices and the risks they have taken so that she can continue her education in college. She plans to study very hard in college, earn good grades and become an outstanding all around good student. But as well, have a positive mindset so that she can strive very hard to be successful in life. She plans to graduate from Michigan State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree majoring in Political Science with a History minor. After graduation, Luz plans to work at a government agency and specifically in domestic policy, so that one day she could be elected a state representative to help create change and improve the lives of migrant farm workers within their local communities.

Growing up as the daughter of migrant farm workers, has never been easy for Luz. During her Freshman year, her oldest brother Jaun, a senior at that time, pushed her out of her comfort zone to further explore her abilities. So she decided to try sports and became part of the MSHS Varsity Track team for 3 years. After the first time of going out for conditioning, she wanted to give up! But with her brother already being a top high school runner, he encouraged her not to give up. Everyday she was required to attend after-school track practice, do many warm-up laps, and then go out every Saturday to run 10 miles. In her Sophomore year, she was only able to stay for practice a few afternoons per week, because she had no transportation home, other than the 2:30PM school-bus. Luz did manage to continue practicing some on her own till 7:00 PM, while waiting for her dad to pick her up. During her Sophomore year, she made it to the Districts with the team. This was a very special feeling for her, as her teammates cheered her on to the finish line. Due to COVID-19, part of her Junior year and this year, she did not have the opportunity to continue competitive running with the high school team and her teammates. Yet, she still continued running on her own as she used to do. Running has greatly improved her fitness with the loss of extra weight and has kept her very physically and mentally healthy.

While running track, Luz became aware that training, practice and high school track meets helped her build more strength and endurance and motivated her to work harder in his classes at school. She pushes herself to do her very best everyday! While growing up she lacked the advantages of most other kids, she now, at least, has school and running as a way for her to think freely and grow spiritually. She had the opportunity to gain an invaluable sense of determination. Throughout her years of being on a team, she was able to socialize more and improve her communication skills. Running has made her a stronger person and determined not to ever give up. She still helps her parents in the fields and financially, when possible. By achieving excellent grades, she graduates in May 2021 with high honors and with a 3.86 GPA. Luz wants to continue being a role model to young children and inspire others to always do the right thing and do their best. She feels, no matter where we come from or what we do, we should have a positive mind set and be determined to strive for success. She is hopeful that graduating from Michigan State University in June 2025, this will allow her to honor her parents and give back for everything they have sacrificed for her. Good luck, Luz!

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