Whiz Kid: Maria Jose Aveiga
School: Senior at Fox Lane High School
Whiz Kid Accomplishment: After applying for the Modern Foreign Language Scholarship offered by Manhattan College, Maria Aveiga was one of fifteen winners chosen from a pool of 90 applicants. She was awarded a four-year scholarship that includes tuition, room and board, to attend the Roman Catholic, liberal arts college located in Riverdale, NY.
Whiz Kid’s Key to Awesomeness: Maria Aveiga came to the United States from Ecuador in 2006 and began her American school life as an eighth-grader at Fox Lane Middle School. Now a senior and the eldest of three siblings, she says she has always loved languages and learning about the world.
“I did not expect this. I was so surprised to learn that I actually won this scholarship,” she says. “My mother was crying when we found out.”
The criteria for the scholarship, according to Marlene Gottlieb, chairperson of the department, is that the applicant be a high school senior with a solid GPA, who has plans to major or minor in language and who excels on an essay exam that is administered by the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures.
Back in November, Aveiga sat for the exam—four hours of reading and writing an essay in Spanish. The topic was about stereotypes of women—and she clearly aced it. The essay was judged with different criteria than those used to judge standard learners of the language. Aveiga was contacted a few months later and told about the award.
“I am so excited to go to Manhattan College and I am prepared to study and learn a lot,” she says. Plans for the immediate future, this Whiz Kid says, include a major in International Relations and minor in Italian. “I would like to have a career as a diplomat and work to address issues of poverty in Ecuador and other places around the world.”