Just a small part of a network of programs that make a student’s journey a successful experience.” -Nineth Garcia
One barrier to education for families in Guatemala is the cost associated with going to school. While public school can be “free” through 6th grade, once in 7th grade, parents must pay annual registration fees and monthly fees, among other miscellaneous fees.
As a part of the Common Hope model, the scholarship department (Becas) was developed to administer financial resources, school supplies and uniforms to schools and families, regardless if the student has a sponsor or not. Common Hope pays between 80-100% of of tuition and fees depending upon the family’s financial capabilities.
One of many important departments at Common Hope, the Scholarship team is critical in maintaining and building partnerships with every school Common Hope students attend. Nineth Garcia, Gerente Administrativa de Becas (Manager of Scholarship Administration) leads the team to do this important work. The relationships the Scholarship team has with both families and schools are essential to their success and to achieving their dreams of a high school diploma.
Nineth joined Common Hope in 1998 as a receptionist. She not only advanced her career at Common Hope over the years, but she attended university while working. Today, she holds a Master’s Degree in Management and Analysis Reliability. Her skills and 22-year history make this program one of Common Hope’s best.
The Scholarships team is four strong including Nidya Gonzalez, a Common Hope graduate and staff member for 15 years (click here to hear her story), Luis Pichilla, a ten-year veteran, and Victor Martinez, new to the team but not Common Hope––he has been with the foundation for 14 years. All in, that makes for a combined 61 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE helping students and families navigate the school system.
This team works closely with 110 different schools to make sure that fees/tuition, uniforms, school supplies, books, and transportation needs are met. Nineth will tell you that their work is just one piece in the puzzle. She says scholarships are “just a small part of a network of programs that make a student’s journey a successful experience.”
When asked, Nineth will quickly share with pride that there are many stories that inspire her every day. Recently she told a story about Miguelito, a Common Hope student that wanted to become a teacher but suffered from a vision impairment. His mom had doubts about helping him pursue his dream because she thought it would be too hard for him. Nineth was able to work with the school and Miguelito’s mother to find a solution to the challenge. Miguelito started taking his tests verbally. And, guess what? Miguelito graduated! And he now teaches at a school for the blind. Nineth still remembers the day she saw him walk on the Pathway of Dreams to receive his teaching degree. These stories of inspiration are her motivation for continuing to work hard for Common Hope students.
“What motivates me is being able to support the people of Guatemala. It isn’t always easy, but the love and commitment of the students and the team is what keeps me going,” Nineth said.
Nineth is also excited to offer additional help to a special group of 35 students in 2021. This year, in response to increased financial insecurity for students not in the Common Hope program, the team is ready to help.
After learning from teachers in partner schools that some students who had only one year left of school were planning to drop out because they could not afford it, an idea took shape. Because of Nineth’s strong relationships with schools and quick thinking, Common Hope is stepping in. This year, Common Hope is helping 35 students by providing scholarship-only support for one year––their senior year––so that after years of hard work they don’t miss out on getting their diploma. “This is a great way for Common Hope to help in the face of a pandemic,” Shari Blindt, Executive Director shared. “We’re glad to deepen our partnership with schools and support families in local communities to make a better Guatemala.”
The Scholarship Department’s work is more than just a piece of the puzzle––it could be said it is the four corners––and thankfully, Nineth and team and their 61 years of experience have created the foundation for great things.