On average, only thirty percent of the students leave school without debt. It is something that many see as impossible. However, a Harlem College student, Javier Sarmiento Jr., proves that it is possible. Sarmiento did not only graduate debt-free. He also became the first Harlem student to win 13 scholarships—a feat that helped him graduate without a loan.
Many would wonder how anyone could get thirteen scholarships. As Sarmiento said, it was not easy at all. He attributed the success to his tenacity, grit, and discipline. His scholarship search journey involved numerous applications, of which around sixty were rejected. He did not give up; he persevered. Because of that, he enjoyed the glory of graduating debt-free. It is not only that Sarmiento says that without the scholarships, he would not have graduated given the cost of tuition at the school. He had to work extremely hard to get the scholarship so that he can graduate on time. Also, as a resident of Harlem a neighborhood in New York where crime, poverty and homelessness reign, he overcame these odds and now he is an inspiration to many young people facing similar circumstances.
His search process involved combing through multiple platforms. He scoured the web for resources where he searched for scholarship databases and tapped into the community and professional organizations that offer assistance to the underrepresented groups. According to Sarmiento, the scholarship search journey was rigorous. It involved long hours of search and disappointment when some things did not go according to plans. However, through resilience and patience, success awaits. Sarmiento said he has a large file where he keeps the scholarship materials, a reminder of the journey that he has once traveled to get where he is now.
First in his family
He is the first in the family to earn a college degree of any form; this was when he graduated as an associate degree holder at Gutman Community college in NYC. As a first-generation college student, Sarmiento said his family and community voices had driven him to success. He aspires to become a journalist, focusing on social justice reform and improving people's lives in Harlem. His journey to his career of choice is on the right path. He is achieving it through dedication to education and gaining the necessary experience. He attributed his success to the support systems in places he has been, especially at Guttman College. Sarmiento added that the institution's support of the students is what makes them special.
Buena Vista University
Buena Vista University fraternity is all praises. They recognize the resilience, determination, and hard work that Sarmiento has shown over the years he has been at the institution. "Javier was a remote student, but you couldn't tell because he was always so engaged," said Dr. Andrea Frantz- Professor of Digital Media at Buena Vista University.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Jamii Claiborne, professor of Digital Media at Buena Vista University/Director of Retention & Assessment/Fine Arts Division Chair, who said, "I don't know that I've worked with a student who showed more resilience and pure determination than Javier." Donna Musel, Director of the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) at Buena Vista University, also has high hopes for Sarmiento to accomplish great things in the future. "He's gonna accomplish things, and we're just all gonna sit back and go, 'Look at that, isn't that cool?'
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Javier Sarmiento Jr