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The middle-class v. real class

2 July 2009

Thanks to “Manuel” — a college student somewhere in the United States who writes about the pressures of being a student (something I vaguely remember) compounded by his uncertain future as an “undocumented” person (which I can only hope to comprehend) comes a real “feel good” story.

The Matsui Nursery Foundation in Monterrey California gives a very generous scholarship to local high school students who plan to return to their local community after graduation and perform socially beneficial work. The same day that East Salinas, California’s Everett High School graduating Senior Leticia Garcia-Romo was offered a “full ride” at Princeton University (about $700,000 in all), she was also offered the Matsui Foundation Scholarship. $40,000 is not a lot of money when you’re talking about a university education in the United States (especially at a high prestige private university like Princeton), but declining the scholarship means a world of difference for the alternate winner, Hector Rojas.

Rojas is “undocumented” (his parents moved to the United States when Hector was five years old), and — while he is eligible to attend state universities in California (as a resident of the State, and as a high academic achiever in that state), he is not allowed to receive state financial assistance, or any government-sponsored loans. And, he has to pay the full tuition rate. Which that $40,000 will just cover.

A story about the incredible generosity of both the Matsui Foundation and Ms. Garcia-Romo was the subject of a broadcast on Salinas’ local television station, KSBW. Comments on the story — and on the pair’s achievement in being the first in their families to finish high school (let alone receive such high academic honors) — led to several comments… including one person who complained:

“College is for Middle-class Americans.”

Unfortunately, I can’t embed the follow-up story, from KSBW, but watch it if you want to see REAL class from real Americans.

Best of luck, and congratulations to Leticia, Hector … and “Manuel”, who should be graduating, if he hasn’t done so already.

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