Students Selected as National Hispanic Scholars

Last weekend, Santi Parra-Vargas ’20 and Victoria Scholtz ’20 received news that they had won the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) scholarship, awarded by the College Board and Scholarship America.

Last weekend, Santi Parra-Vargas ’20 and Victoria Scholtz ’20 received news that they had won the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) scholarship, awarded by the College Board and Scholarship America. Approximately 5,000 awardees were selected across the nation for the program, scoring among the top 2.5 percent of Hispanic and Latinx students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in the Middle States region. Scholtz and Parra-Vargas were notified that their PSAT scores qualified for the program in February of their IV Form year. With the help of Dean of Academics and Science Master David Laws P’21 ’23, they submitted their application in early July of 2019.

To qualify for the award, students must take the PSAT in their junior year, achieve the minimum test score for their region, and earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher by the middle of their junior year. This year’s cutoff for the Middle States region was a score of 1320. Additionally, all applicants must be at least one-quarter Hispanic or Latinx and originally descend from relatives of at least one of the following nations: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, or Venezuela. For clarification on eligibility, the College Board explicitly notes on the program website, “Hispanic and Latino are ethnic categories, not racial categories, and Hispanic/Latino students may be of any race.” While the NHRP does not directly offer scholarships, those selected have access to various opportunities during the college process. As Parra-Vargas noted, the NHRP “helps you get a lot of consideration [from] the National Hispanic College Fund for scholarships for the top percent of Latino students.”

Director of College Counseling Jeffrey Durso-Finley P’13 ’14 ’19 ’22 said that students “can use the designation as an honor to list on their college applications, with some colleges and universities using it as a qualification to receive institutional financial aid scholarships or to enter scholarship competitions at the college or university.” For instance, Boston University (BU) considers recognized students “who have exceptionally strong academic records” for its four-year $25,000 Presidential Scholarship, according to the BU website. Recipients for the Presidential Scholarship are ultimately selected by Boston University’s Board of Admissions and Scholarship Committee. Reflecting on the award, Parra-Vargas said, “Essentially, it’s just a program that allows students like me from countries in South America… to be recognized for their achievements.” He added, “Some South American countries are super poor, so to have somebody from that country to do well on the PSAT is really good for them.”

On his reaction upon receiving the award, Parra-Vargas said, “ I didn’t know I was going to get it because I thought New Jersey has a lot of Latino people… I thought it would be pretty difficult, and I feel really happy that I ended up getting it.” On her experience regarding the application process for the NHRP, Scholtz said, “I thought it was pretty cool that there is an award that celebrates that kind of accomplishment for Hispanic students. So I’m pretty proud of that. I was really grateful to receive this recognition… because of the opportunities that you can get through it.”

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