Three Saint Peter’s Students Receive HBCSF Scholarship Award

Earlier this year, Nataly Ruiz ’15, a nursing student at Saint Peter’s University, came face-to-face with a difficult situation.

“On January 13, my grandmother fractured her hip and, to this day, is in the hospital as her Alzheimer’s continues to worsen,” she said. “Not only did if affect me, I was unable to focus the first two weeks of school once my spring semester had begun.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, Ruiz pushed forward and used her experience in an essay, titled “Evaluate a Significant Experience, Achievement or Ethical Dilemma You Faced and Its Impact on You,” for an application to the 2013 Hispanic Business Council Scholarship Foundation (HBCSF) of N.J. Inc.’s scholarship program. In her essay, Ruiz wrote, “Schooling was a rough start. But as time went on, my grandma was the light that allowed me to see clearly and keep moving forward no matter the circumstances that may come my way.”

She added, “I was very grateful to have this opportunity with my grandmother because it made me realize that being a nurse is my vocation.”

Because of her essay and other application materials, Ruiz received a $2,000 scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year at Saint Peter’s University. However, she was not the only University student chosen for this award. Biology major Esther Rodriguez ’14 and Jose Bustillo ’14, a communication major and finance minor, respectively, were also named recipients of the HBCSF scholarship.

According the HBCSF website, the organization’s mission is to advance the educational aspirations of Hispanic students so they may become professionals, leaders and valued citizens of the community. The Foundation accomplishes this by providing scholarships and/or stipends based on academic excellence and financial need. In order to qualify, students must be of Hispanic heritage; a New Jersey resident; enrolled full-time in an accredited college, university, community college or technical school anywhere in the United States; and have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

“Receiving this scholarship meant a lot, especially because I wrote about someone really special in my life, which is my grandma,” said Ruiz. “Not only do I feel proud of being the first in my family to be in college, but winning this scholarship has given me the boost I needed to keep going with my studies.”

Bustillo agreed, adding, “This scholarship means a closer step to my success. It means hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and optimism. It means the beginning of a rewarding professional career. I love Saint Peter’s and I really enjoy my classes, professors and the quality of education overall. I like that there is a very close student-professor connection, which is very important for me.”

As part of receiving the scholarship or stipend, students are required to complete 80 hours of community service to “pay it forward.” Ruiz plans to “continue volunteering at my church as a Sunday School teacher by preparing my students to make their Holy Communion,” while Bustillo will perform community service at Saint Peter’s.

According to Sondra Edwards Buesing Riley, director of the cooperative education and internship program for the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services at Saint Peter’s University, finer students could not have been chosen for the scholarship award. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with each of these students, and have to say that each is truly exceptional. All are high academic achievers who manage to balance school, work and extracurricular obligations,” she said.

She added, “We are not only delighted that each of these students is a member of the cooperative education and internship program, but we are also confident that they will ‘pay it forward’ in the tradition of previous HBCSF scholarship recipients. We have no doubt that Esther, Jose and Nataly will continue to embody our Jesuit core value of ‘men and women for others’ as they help other students realize their dreams of college.”