After enduring unspeakable abuse as a child at the hands of a family member, Kristyne Ramirez not only survived, but is now thriving as a freshman at SUNY College at Old Westbury.
But as the daughter of a single, student loan-wary mother, the question of how the family would afford tuition loomed large. That is, until her mother, a social worker, heard about the DREAMS For Youth Scholarship program — and Ramirez won.
“When she found out about it she just thought it was a perfect opportunity to tell my story,” the 18-year-old Glen Cove woman says. Kristyne is a DREAMS For Youth Scholarship recipient and Anthony J. Stupore Memorial Scholarship recipient.
Since its inception in 2002, the nonprofit United Way of Long Island, which runs the scholarship program, has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships and grants to college students.
Ramirez, a Great Neck South High School graduate, is now majoring in psychology and minoring in neuropsychology with the help of the scholarship. The money helped her afford textbooks and two semesters of tuition.
“I was actually very surprised,” Ramirez says of when she learned she won. “It was very surreal because everyone was very concerned and they cared about how my grades were and how we were doing financially. It was very moving for me.”
Once she graduates, her goal is to become a neuropsychologist in her own private practice, drawing on her own experience to give a voice to the voiceless.
“I just want to let people know just because you come from a hard time or hard place or you’ve been through hard things, it doesn’t determine your future or what you want to do with your life,” she says.
Kristyne’s story is proof of that, as her dreams are on their way to becoming a reality.
To apply for the DREAMS For Youth Scholarship, visit unitedwayli.org/dreamsforyouth The deadline is April 19.