Cindy Lozada is excited to venture somewhere her parents never got to go.
“In my family, it’s really a big deal that I’m going to college because my parents didn’t go,” said Lozada, 18, who recently graduated from Miami Senior High School. In the fall, she is slated to begin attending classes at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus, where she is enrolled in MDC’s School of Education.
Before embarking on her collegiate career, Lozada was recently celebrated for being part of Take Stock in Children – Miami’s Class of 2017. On May 25, the organization hosted its annual Senior Scholarship Ceremony at MDC’s Wolfson Campus.
The 189-member graduating class was the largest in TSIC Miami’s 21-year history, according to executive director Joanne Messing. She estimated the value of the scholarships awarded during the ceremony to be about $1.7 million.
“Some of the students have 2 + 2, and others have two-year scholarships,” Messing said. “Either way, we’re covering at least an AA (associate degree).”
To achieve its goal of helping low-income students throughout the state work toward earning a college education, Take Stock in Children provides resources that include mentors and school-based ambassadors who monitor student progress.
While TSIC receives support from businesses, civic groups, and other generous organizations statewide, Messing believed the Senior Scholarship Ceremony was a way to celebrate a specific group of crucial contributors.
“I feel it’s such a special moment for the parents too,” Messing said. “They’ve had to come to Saturday workshops and do this for many years, since kids are in the program early on.”
TSIC, which is active in more than 800 schools throughout the state, typically selects students between the 6th and 9th grade.
“When you entered Take Stock in Children, some of you nearly six years ago, you made a decision that would forever change your life,” said Sandy Grossman, Chair of TSIC Miami’s Leadership Council, to the graduates. “And because of that decision, you’re on your way to college and the promise of a very bright future.”
The Senior Scholarship Ceremony’s keynote speaker was former NBA star Shane Battier. He is also the founder of the Battier Take Charge Foundation, which is dedicated to providing resources for the development and education of underserved youth.
While he congratulated them on graduating high school, Battier spoke of the determination students will need to complete their college education.
“True growth comes when you’re a little scared…when you can be embarrassed,” Battier said. “By being uncomfortable, you get a chance to look at yourself and ask, ‘What am I about?’”
Lozada is excited to take on the challenge that lies ahead. Her older brother Danny, a fellow TSIC graduate, preceded her into college and helped blaze a path to higher education in her family.
She is grateful for the role TSIC has played in her development.
“They really informed me about scholarships that were out there and motivated me to get better grades,” Lozada said. “I am so thankful for them.”