The Goldman Sachs Foundation (GSF) announced its award of a $1 million grant to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) at a Faculty Club reception held last night to honor HSF Scholars at Harvard.
The grant will go toward establishing an HSF alumni network and HSF Scholar chapters at 15 universities, including Harvard, according to HSF president and CEO Sara M. Tucker.
One of five chapters to be started this spring, the Harvard HSF Chapter will consist of the 26 Scholars who are currently enrolled at Harvard. The HSF will also form chapters at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia universities and the University of Texas at Austin.
"This is a huge thing for Harvard," said William R. Fitzsimmons `67, Harvard College dean of admissions. "It's a signal to the world."
The HSF Scholars honored last night are among the 609 Scholars the HSF has helped to attend Harvard over the last 24 years, collectively representing approximately $700,000 in spending, Fitzsimmons added.
Nationally, the HSF has awarded scholarships to 40,000 Hispanic students, totaling over $58 million since its founding in 1975, according to Tucker.
"Our mission is to strengthen America through enabling Latino education," Tucker said. "In our community, so many children believe '[Financial aid is] for someone better than me.'"
Networking and mentoring between past, present and future HSF Scholars was the key theme of the evening. Tucker emphasized the importance of keeping Hispanic secondary school students in school and encouraging them to apply to college.
"I want my former scholars to mentor my current scholars, and my current scholars to mentor my future scholars, to get them in the pipeline," Tucker said.
Carlos J. Ledezma, a first-year at Harvard Medical School and an HSF scholar, echoed Tucker's sentiment.
"It's like a ladder-you always turn around to look at who's behind you so you can help them out," he said. "This is going to be a life-long thing, not a one-time shot."
Students welcomed the move to form campus chapters and encourage networking.
"It would be nice to have a list [of Scholars]," said Miguel A. Segovin, who is a third-year Divinity School Student and HSF Scholar. "Unless people tell you, you really don't know."
Erica L. Maclandon `03 cited Harvard's small Hispanic community as a potential disincentive for prospective students.
"There are so few Hispanic students here-you don't want to come to a school knowing that you'll be one of 200," she said.
According to Fitzsimmons, 9.1 percent of this year's admitted class is of Hispanic background.
Both Fitzsimmons and Tucker praised the GSF, and particularly its president, Stephanie Bell-Rose `79.
"I want to thank Goldman Sachs for being pioneers in this initiative," Fitzsimmons said. "What we're trying to build here is the future."
Bell-Rose emphasized the current scholars' role as future leaders.
"We see you as a very valuable part of the solution to some of those sad statistics," she said to assembled students. "We want to be part of the equation for your excellence."
There was another reason for cheer in the midst of sometimes somber talk-the 26 members of the new Harvard chapter of the HSF also received their scholarship checks last night.