Leal scholarship to help first-generation college students
Palm Beach State College alumnus Alberto Leal wants to help and mentor first-generation college students through a new five-year scholarship that bears his name.
“Scholarships played a major role in financing my education,” said Leal, attorney and owner of The Leal Law Firm in Wellington. “I wanted to give back and provide that same opportunity for hard-working and qualified students. I strongly believe that we have an obligation to assist one another as fellow Panthers and as fellow people.”
As part of the PBSC Foundation first-generation college scholarships, the $2,400 a year Leal Scholars Program Scholarship will be awarded to three first generation college students this year as the Florida state legislature decided to match first generation gifts 2 to 1. After that, it will be given to two students each year for the remaining four years.
In addition to being a first-generation college student, those interested must also be enrolled nine or more credit hours and have a GPA of 3.3 or higher. Preference will be given to Florida residents who are Hispanic. Financial need is also required.
PBSC is currently accepting applications for Foundation scholarships. Students submit one application and are considered for all the scholarships for which they qualify based on donor criteria. There are more than 200 scholarships available. The deadline to apply is Sept. 15, 2018.
Leal, a South Florida native and the first in his family to earn a graduate degree, also wants to meet with the scholarship recipients on a regular basis.
“Mentorship is extremely important. As a first generation college student, it can be tough making decisions that can best prepare you for the future when perhaps members of the student’s immediate family did not have the same opportunity to make those type of decisions. I want to be able to help students with what I can because I know how important it is to have someone in your corner.”
While at PBSC, Leal received a Foundation transfer scholarship that he used to pay for books at Florida Atlantic University. After graduating there with a bachelor’s degree in political science, he then earned a juris doctorate degree at Nova Southeastern University. Today, he works on accessibility cases for the blind. He says the motivation for the work comes from his grandmother, who has been blind most of her life.
Today, Leal encourages people to attend college so they can learn more about themselves.
“College is a time for personal growth as much as it is a time to learn. I don’t think we as people should ever find reasons to miss out on opportunities that can help us grow on a personal level.”