With the support of her family — and now a statewide organization that recognizes her strong leadership qualities — a Saginaw Valley State University senior soon will follow in her older sister’s footsteps as a first-generation college graduate.
Paloma Barba, a business management major from Detroit, recently earned the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan's Future Leaders Scholarship. She was one of nine Michigan college students to earn the $1,000 scholarship.
"I was surprised because I honestly did not expect to receive the scholarship since it was very competitive," she said.
To apply for the scholarship, Barba wrote an essay explaining why she believed she deserved the scholarship as well as why it was important for Hispanic students to earn higher education degrees. Barba said she wanted to apply so she could help finance her education.
"I come from a large family, and therefore my parents cannot support me financially," she said. "I saw an opportunity, and I seized it."
The scholarship will help her pursue an ambition her family supports.
"My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to go to college and learn because knowledge is power,” Barba said.
She said her older sister, Berenice Barba, inspired her to attend college. Berenice is a graduate student at SVSU and works as a graduate assistant in SVSU’s President's Office. She received her bachelor's degree in business administration earlier this year.
"My older sister was the first one in the family to graduate with a bachelor's," Paloma Barba said. "I feel like she deserves most of the credit for my success because she basically paved the way for everyone in our family and, most importantly, for my siblings and me. I just hope that, after I graduate, I can offer the same support that has been offered to me."
The younger Barba graduates in May 2020. She said next she may pursue a master's degree or a career in sports management.
"I would like to go back to my hometown — Detroit — and hopefully work for the Pistons basketball team," she said of the NBA franchise.
The Future Leaders Scholarship awards will be presented to the recipients during a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration organized by the Hispanic Latino Commission in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct 10.