Maya Francis, francism@congreso.net, (215) 763-8870 ext. 1528

Award Marks Second Year Congreso Clients Have Earned Prestigious Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Scholarship

PHILADELPHIA – Geraldo Oyola, 18, of Eastern North Philadelphia, has been announced as the winner of the Dr. José E Lebron Scholarship Fund by the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC). The Lebron Scholarship Fund is housed within GPHCC’s Professional Mentoring Network (PMN) program and awards the expenditure of a two-year tuition program at the Community College of Philadelphia. Oyola will accept his award during a reception held on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at Ralph’s Café in the Comcast Center beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“We decided to start the scholarship fund because there is a great need for Latinos to graduate high school given the 46% drop out rate that we have in Philadelphia,” said Varsovia Fernandez, President and CEO of GPHCC. “We decided to start it with the Community College of Philadelphia because the college provides a great support base for students, and we found it to be the best and most cost-effective vehicle to ensure the students are able to get degrees.”

Oyola is a participant in Congreso de Latinos Unidos’ Éxito after-school program, which serves to support and expand upon classroom-based learning with tutoring, homework help, and extra-curricular lessons. Oyola cites Éxito as a motivational resource that provided educational support and mentorship while he was enrolled in Thomas Edison High School. The program helped him to transition him from a student with C average grades, to one who received second honors within a matter of months.

“I felt really safe there, and when you first step inside, you feel a sense that it’s okay to be who you are,” Oyola said of the program. “The opportunities there are endless and you never know what’s going to be in front of you. When I was there, someone was always guiding me. And I feel as though I can always go back there and get help when I need it.”

Oyola plans to study Computer Technology during the upcoming fall semester using the monies he has received through the Dr. José E Lebron Scholarship Fund. He remains committed to encouraging his peers and other young people, providing mentorship and support to those who need it, just as he once received.

“My community needs a role model [and] I want to be that role model,” he wrote in his submission essay to GPHCC. “This scholarship won’t just help me, but it will open the doors for others to receive my help.”