A high school education is not the norm nor taken for granted in Cozumel. However, it enables learning trade skills and gaining further education that results in greater job opportunities and helping families become self-sufficient.
Lack of financial resources is the biggest obstacle for students continuing their education to high school or beyond. The “inscripción” (registration/tuition fees) for public high schools and the local university is approximately 1,300 pesos (~$80 USD) per semester plus weekly or monthly school related expenses depending on the area of study. Of course, private schools and some public university programs are more expensive.
Friends of Cozumel (FOC) began a scholarship program several years ago funded by private donors who sponsor one or more students. We dedicate at least 50% of the earnings from each Gran Bazar to scholarships. Scholarships are available to high school and university students as well as young people or adults who want to study English or specific trade skills. All recipients are from Cozumel families with limited resources; have to demonstrate academic achievement; and each student volunteers to give back to the community.
Meet a few of our scholarship recipients below; 75% of the 24 are high school students; 25% are university students. We anticipate adding learners to study English or special trade skills in the coming months.
Sisters Dulce and Guadalupe are high school students FOC identified to receive Chrysalis scholarships for first semester tuition and uniforms. Like other high school scholarship recipients, they will be eligible to receive FOC partial scholarships (50%-80% of tuition) for second semester if they maintain a grade point average greater than 7 of 10. Their family includes two younger siblings, mother with a rare blood disease that impacts her ability to work consistently and father who works as a cement laborer but sometimes struggles with alcoholism.
Nuria is a 5th year medical student at UADY in Merida. She is bilingual and has been an FOC volunteer for years. Nuria led a team of med students to provide a health fair including screening for diabetes in July. Other university scholarship recipients are studying business administration, interior design, veterinary medicine and marketing.
Blanca graduated from high school in July 2017 with a major in Food and Beverages along with her “novio” (boyfriend), Edwin, who majored in Human Resources. They are the first from their extended families to complete high school and are looking forward to continuing their education at a university. Both are working for a year to save money for university, caring for Blanca’s grandmother, Antonia, who will be having an operation in the coming months and they plan to take English classes at a local technical school.
Alex, a former FOC scholarship recipient, also graduated with a major in food and beverages, studied English for a year while working and now has an excellent job at Coral Princess resort. He has received special training under the chef and is now doing a rotation working in the beverage side of the business.
Interested in learning more or contributing to the scholarship fund? Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen and Larry in Cozumel