EMPORIA (KSNT)- Higher education can sometimes be taken for granted, especially if you can easily access it. A local organization is doing what it can to make sure teens in the Hispanic community continue their education for a better future.
Every year in May, Emporia gets a taste of Hispanic heritage in the city with events like Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos. While it’s a day filled with fun and a new culture, it’s also a chance to help better a kid’s future.
Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow, also known as H.O.T.T, is a non-profit organization founded in Emporia. Since 1998, it’s raised awareness and money for the Hispanic community, helping hundreds of students get to college through scholarships, students like Amy Guillen.
“Going to university and being the first generation is really hard, for just anyone,” Guillen said.
Guillen grew up in Emporia and wanted to go to college. In 2019, she raised enough money to be crowned the 2019 Fiesta Queen at the Cinco de Mayo event. This meant she received $500 to go towards her education thanks to the H.O.T.T. organization and the community.
“Our main focus for H.O.T.T. is to provide scholarships,” Veronic Sotelo said, the president of H.O.T.T.
Scholarships the organization provides are a way to make sure someone’s financial situation and surroundings shouldn’t be the reason to hold them back. For Guillen, the college scholarship was also a chance to make her parents proud.
“I’m really trying to further my education,” Guillen said. “And not necessarily be better than them because, my parents, I love them so much. They’ve sacrificed their whole life for me and my sisters. But, [I will] do what they want me to do.”
The non-profit could have raised money for the Hispanic community in different ways, through food pantries or clothing donations. However, they saw a need to make sure Hispanics in Emporia received the help they needed to get more than a high school diploma.
“Todo sacrificio tiene
“We try to embed that into our kids,” Sotelo said. “You know, whether it’s a technical college, whether it’s a university, a four-year university. Any kind of college as long as they go on to have a better life than we had, and further on have a great career. You know, and not have to live paycheck to paycheck.”
Within the last two decades, Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow raised $100,000, giving 291 kids a chance to go to college to better their futures.
“Todo sacrificio tiene su recompensa,” Guillen said as she recited a saying her parents always told her. “Every sacrifice has its rewards.”
H.O.T.T.’s next event will be Dia de los Muertos in Emporia on Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will start with a parade which will go down the 900 block of commercial street.