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Goizueta scholarships focus on community service

Miguel Vila and Rocco Ranallo are two of the 15 UNG students selected for the Goizueta Foundation Scholarship for the 2019-20 academic year.

When Miguel Vila enrolled at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Blue Ridge Campus, he got involved with a student program that focuses on community service. When he transferred to UNG's Dahlonega Campus two years later, he searched for a similar group. He found one: the Goizueta Foundation Scholarship.

The scholarship program is designed to support the academic success and leadership development of Hispanic and Latino students at UNG. It provides financial assistance, group activities, mentorship, personalized advising, and community service opportunities, said Kyle Murphy, coordinator for Multicultural Student Affairs and Latino success.

Vila and and Johan Rodriguez-Soto have received the Goizueta scholarship twice. This year, they are joined by 13 new scholars, who met for the first time Sept. 4 on UNG's Gainesville Campus. A few of the scholarship recipients are Maria Sanchez Acosta, Alondra Hodges Irizarry, Dayanara Mancilla, Camila Colman Pagliaro, Jim Ramirez-Ruiz, Marilen Rodriguez-Antunez, Juan R. Velasquez Tercero, and Karina Fuentes Viruegas.

A committee interviewed 25 students from the 183 applicants and selected the winners; eligible students are those who are of Latino or Hispanic heritage. All 15 recipients receive a scholarship for one academic year and complete at least one community service project.

Ranallo, a freshman pursuing a cybersecurity degree, said he searched for groups to join with a commitment to community service. When he discovered the Goizueta program, he found the perfect fit.

"I really liked giving back to the community and making it a better place," Ranallo said. "The scholarship also helped me out tremendously."

As a first-generation and nontraditional student, Ranallo is excited that he will meet with his fellow Goizueta Scholars on a monthly basis.

"With me being a nontraditional student, I know the camaraderie will help me build relationships that may last me years and years to come," the 34-year-old from Blairsville, Georgia, said.

The community service portion also appealed to Vila, since he watched his family struggle.

"My dad worked three jobs to support his family," Vila said, explaining his father served as a circuit pastor. "Having been in difficult situations myself, I have a passion to help others out of those."

The Goizueta scholarship is helping Vila, too. After working full time and later part time for three years, he has some breathing space.

"If I didn't have the Goizueta Scholarship, I would have to continue to work part time," said the 21-year-old originally from Fayetteville, Georgia. "This year I have a cushion, so I can focus on school."

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