LANSING, Mich. — After taking a break from school for 15 years, first-generation college student Ronaldo Linares is headed back to class.
On Thursday, Lansing Community College awarded him the Thomas J. Pung Scholarship for $20,000. The money is meant to cover his education for the next two years.
"I don't have to worry about financial need, as much as I did before, because I been struggling this past summer trying to save up money for the semester, save up money for my living expenses," said Linares, a nursing student at LCC.
Money wasn't his only challenge. Linares was born in Mexico. His family moved to the U.S. to work as seasonal farm laborers when he was just a year old.
"We spoke Spanish all the time. The only time I spoke English was going to school. And even this time, I didn't understand why we needed to speak two languages," he said.
Learning English was tough and the constant moving didn't make things any better. Linares jumped from school to school.
"I was just always lost and for a minute, I didn't really enjoy school," he said.
But that isn't the case anymore. Once he completes the nursing program at LCC, he plans to go on for his bachelor's degree in nursing.
"What draws me to nursing is that do you know I've, as a migrant, a person, a Hispanic person, Latino, I have seen and been apart like, experienced the barriers that you get in nursing, like, not everybody treats you the same and I want to mitigate that barrier," he said.
Linares is grateful to be chosen for the scholarship, and, if his family could attend the event, he knows they'd be proud.
"I feel like I'm the face of America..." he said, "You have to work and there will be rewards like this blessing that I was just given for all the hard work that my family and I have put in."
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