Hispanic Brotherhood provides funds for college-bound students


Four soon-to-be high school graduates were taken by surprise to learn that they would each be receiving a scholarship from the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, a non-profit community organization established in 1984 to assist a growing population of immigrants from different Spanish-speaking cultures.

The Hispanic Brotherhood held its 2024 annual Scholarship Dinner on May 9 at Temple Avodah in Oceanside. This year’s scholarship recipients are Alyson Paulino, Christopher Rodriguez, Andy Banegas, and Alfredo Molina of Rockville Centre. The four scholarship winners were honored for exhibiting academic success throughout the school year.

Each recipient was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to help cover the cost of tuition for the first year of undergraduate studies. The scholarship funds were matched thanks to additional contributions from GalaFresh Farms Supermarkets, United Way, and both the Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union and the Father Joseph O’Connell Knights of Columbus Council No. 3481 in Oceanside, providing a total of $3,000 in aid for the four students.

The Hispanic Brotherhood has been serving the Rockville Centre community for more than 45 years, providing daily assistance filing documents with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, citizenship counseling, employment placement, legal representation, housing referrals and emergency food provision. This is in addition to its two major programs — the after school tutorial program and Hispanic Senior Citizen Club, which provide support and meaningful care for participants in more vulnerable age demographics.

With four additional locations outside of RVC in Freeport, Oceanside, Lynbrook, and Baldwin funding is provided through grants from the New York State Division of Housing, Nassau County Youth Board, Nassau County Department of Senior Citizen Affairs, and additional support from United Way and local churches.

Margarita Grasing, the executive director of the Hispanic Brotherhood, said the organization has been operating its scholarship for as long the organization has been around.

According to Grasing, the scholarships are intended to provide much needed help to low-income students in the Rockville Centre and Oceanside communities. Applicants are required to maintain at least an 80 average in high school, showing their seriousness and commitment to academics. Each student must also participate in at least a month of tutoring at the Hispanic Brotherhood’s RVC location.

Alyson Paulino, 18, a senior at South Side High School, said she plans to put her scholarship funds towards attending Stony Brook University and studying clinical laboratory science. Paulino shared that she is currently deciding between having a minor in biology or film studies on her way to being a clinical lab scientist.

“Receiving the award was the first step for me to let go of that dependence on my parents,” Paulino said. “I’m proud of myself, … and I know my parents are proud of me too.”

Alfredo Molina, 17, plans to study mechanical engineering at Binghamton University. Even though Molina will be a first-generation college student, he credits his cousin who works in mechanical engineering for inspiring him to enter the industry.

Molina also shared that the scholarship from the Hispanic Brotherhood was both a surprise and a much-needed financial blessing to him and his family. Molina plans to work in the summer for the Hispanic Brotherhood before leaving for school.

In addition to the four young honorary scholars, the Annual Scholarship Dinner featured honors being given out to several other community members and organizations.

Notable honorees recognized this year included New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy L. Goosby; Joseph Tedesco, president and chief executive officer of Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union Joseph Tedesco; The Salvadoran-American Chamber of Commerce; David Nemiroff, president and chief executive officer of Harmony Healthcare; Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island; attorney David M. Sperling; Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Services’ among others who helped support the scholarship fund. The fund allows graduating seniors to enter higher learning and supports the organization’s after school tutorial program.

The Hispanic Brotherhood provides support for the community with programs on foreclosure prevention, which provides legal counsel to local homeowners about the best practices regarding homeownership.

Grasing also shared that the scholarships, programs, and various means of community support that the Hispanic Brotherhood has provided over the years goes beyond just Hispanic pride, to create a more prosperous Rockville Centre for all.