I experienced racial and financial embarrassment throughout most of my college career. While studying sociology, I learned that most low-income families come from the Hispanic and Latino population. I was embarrassed. When learning that the racial disparities that Hispanic males face every day are higher than the ones Caucasian males face, I was mortified. When learning about society norms for Hispanic males, I wanted to drop out. But, with the help of Hillsborough Community College, my obstacle became my biggest strength.

My name is Carlo Cabrera and I am one of the founders of The Dale Mabry Student Leader Endowed Scholarship. I am also the past President of the Student Government Association at the Dale Mabry Campus, and a past board member of several committees and school organizations. I have volunteered over 350 hours to my school and my community.

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As a first-generation college student and Hispanic immigrant, HCC has been a safe place for learning and growth for me and other individuals looking to overcome stereotypes and broaden their horizons. When addressing things like lack of money or financial stability, students and Hispanic students in particular, are often embarrassed to ask for support. Coming from a household with strong Hispanic pride, we often are taught the idea of “if you want something, then work hard to obtain it, but don’t ask others for help.” This mindset is very prevalent in our community, and has to a fault, permeated in to the minds of our youth.

HCC has taught me that I can work hard but still ask for support and achieve my goals without shame. The faculty and staff, and especially my fellow students at HCC believed in me and made sure that I was financially able to attend college while achieving my goal of obtaining my associate’s degree. The experiences and skills I learned here have prepared me to lead myself into success, and to mentor other students with similar struggles to academic wealth. I am confident, that with the strong foundation HCC provided, I am ready to pursue my bachelor’s, master’s and law degree and continue supporting my community and alma mater.

male in grad regalia

This student-formed endowment is the first of its kind at the college. It will provide an added layer of financial assistance to HCC students who support their school and community selflessly to make it a better place for those who follow. It is a discussion that Kay, Rafat, and I have had for some time, and for it to become a reality is beyond anything I could have imagined. As a new HCC alumnus, to be that bridge where I can help set students up for success to achieve their dreams will be my biggest accomplishment thus far.