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Orlando, FL (October 28, 2016) – The Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando (HHSFMO) recognized the outstanding academic achievements of 22 Hispanic students during its 17th annual awards ceremony at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  All of the scholarship recipients are of Hispanic descent and enrolled in postsecondary institutions in Central Florida. More than $160,000 in funds were awarded, bringing the organization’s total awards up to 294 scholarships and $1,300,000 granted since HHSFMO’s inception more than 16 years ago.

Participants of the luncheon had an opportunity to hear from Mateo Raul Magdaleno, author and Chief Education Officer for the IDQ Inc., as the event’s Keynote speaker. Mateo Raul shared his story of how he overcame a challenging childhood by focusing on what he could do to help others and ensure that he has a purpose in this life. “Mateo Raul’s ability to speak to the challenges of life, but also encourage people to not let obstacles prevent you from being successful was exactly what our scholars needed to hear as some begin and some are well into the completion of their post-secondary education,” said Maritza Martinez, HHSFMO Chair and associate vice president of community relations for the University of Central Florida. 

The awards ceremony and several of the scholarships were sponsored by local companies, including Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando Health, Carnival Corporation, Wells Fargo, CenturyLink, and Duke Energy. Two Central Florida colleges partnered with HHSFMO to award scholarships to Hispanic students. Recipient Valerie Caro-Beltran received one full-tuition scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College under the Rollins Evening Emerging Leaders (REEL) Scholarship Program.  Two students, Carmen Lopez Robledo and Zulma Echevarria, received a scholarship to complete a year at Florida Technical College.

“Today’s awards ceremony was an excellent opportunity to showcase and honor our scholars, our youth, our future of tomorrow.  We have an important responsibility to positively impact and strengthen our regional economy and our community and supporting that which makes Central Florida great,” said Maritza.   

Partnerships with a number of Central Florida community organizations also account for a portion of the scholarships.  Among these partners are the Education Foundation of Osceola County, the Osceola/Kissimmee Hispanic Business Council, the Hispanic-American Professional and Business Women’s Association (HAPBWA), Casa de Mexico, and the Mexican Consulate of Orlando