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Back to School with Youth Awards | Maria Salmeron

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

HHF’s Youth Awards are back! Entering its 19th year, the Youth Awards honor Latino high school seniors who excel in the classroom and community in various categories. Meet Maria Salmeron, 2016 National Youth Awards Education Recipient.

Maria is a vanguard leader in the ethnic diversity spaces and closing the achievement gap that exists between African American and Latino students and their counterparts. She will be attending the Liberal Arts Lafayette College in just a few weeks. She talked to us about her introduction to HHF, advice for other students who are applying to the Youth Awards this year and what HHF means to her! This is what she said.

How did you first hear about HHF’s Youth Awards?

I heard about the Youth Awards through an event that I had previously attended, and Antonio and Gilberto told me I should apply to the grant. I heard about the scholarship towards the end of my junior year. It was so great because I had the chance to meet Antonio even before I applied and or won the grant, and that was my introduction to the Foundation. I applied to the Youth Awards before going into senior year.

You attended our Youth Award Regional and National ceremonies, how were those experiences?

Attending the regional ceremony was such a great experience, but what I really took away from it was that I saw so many familiar faces. I saw people that I have worked with in my county, there were past youth awardees there and everyone and was so approachable at this ceremony!

The National ceremony was awesome because my mom was getting recognized for the Parent Award presented by Learning Heroes. Getting to experience this with my mom was amazing, it was my one moment that I experienced with her.

When you first got that call that you won the Youth Awards grant, how did you feel? Who was the first person you told?

I first received a phone call, email and then directions on how to follow-up and steps I would be taking after. I was actually by myself when I received the call that I won, but once I got off the phone I told my teacher that I was having a meeting with and then waited until I got home to tell my mom!

How did the Youth Awards grant help further your education, to be more specific, what did you use the grant on?

I still haven’t used the grant, as I will be receiving it later this year for my second year. When I do receive the grant, I plan to use the money for books my second semester and other school stuff that I might need. I’m excited for when I will get the grant because it will come when I least expect it!

Would you recommend other students to apply to this grant?

Of course, the experience goes far beyond just applying for the grant. Like I had mentioned, I keep forgetting that part of the award was the scholarship. I am more thankful for the experience than the money of course.

What advice/tips would you give other students that are applying to this year’s Youth Awards?

To start off, a lot of the essays on the Youth Awards application resemble college applications so that was really helpful. The Youth Awards application helped me a lot when I was filling out college applications at the same time. The questions on this application were great and they really helped me capture all that I have done. When you are applying to the application, don’t overthink it and do the best you can. Filling out the application and then finding out that I received the grant really did help me with my confidence. With scholarship’s you really never know what the chances are that you will get it, and getting this one was an amazing feeling.

Tips: Don’t fill it out just like another scholarship that you will fill out, really do your best to fill it out as thorough as possible, there are so many ways that HHF can help you.

Youth Awards categories include Business & Entrepreneurship, Community Service, Education, Healthcare & Science, Media & Entertainment, Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM).

The Youth Awards is a grant that can help further your education, all while becoming a part of something bigger, the Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) Network! If you are interested in learning about our Youth Awards program and or have any questions on the application, contact Andres at and Brenda at

Apply to the Youth Awards here! 


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