TAMPA, Fla. — College can be expensive — it’s why scholarships are awarded to students to help aid in their college journeys. One new scholarship is helping migrant students continue their studies at the University of South Florida (USF).

What You Need To Know

  • Newly established scholarship is helping students who come from a migrant family and/or low-income household
  • This scholarship was created by the Leung family to give back to students who live in the Wimauma, Ruskin areas
  • Crystal Vazquez is one of four recipients of the scholarship that will go towards her tuition as she finished

The scholarship was created last year by the Leung family to help students in an area where they established their roots, to help support students who want to pursue a higher education.

It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words — that’s certainly true for Crystal Vazquez.

She’s been drawn to cameras her whole life. “The emotion of just being in that moment and wanting to capture and keep it forever, so ever since then, I told my parents I want to buy a camera when I grow up.”

Her love for cameras led her to start her own photography business a few months ago.

It’s a hobby she says she couldn’t have started if it wasn’t for the USF migrant scholarship. “I generally never thought that I would be able to receive anything like this and it’s just changed the experience of college for me all together.”

Without the scholarship, Vazquez says she would have to work multiple jobs to pay for her tuition.

“When I got these scholarships, I didn’t only feel like it was a weight off of me, but a weight off of my parents as well, I think that as any parent, they just want the best for their kids,” she says.

Vazquez was one of four USF students who received the migrant scholarship for $10,000. It’s yet another accomplishment, she says, she and her family can be proud of, after all the challenges they’ve faced growing up.

“My parents would take me and my sisters to go pick oranges with them after school, and then after the first day, I did it, I was like, ‘I think I’m going to go to college, I think it’s a little hard out here,’” she said.

Now heading into her senior year as a marketing major at USF, Vazquez says she’s gained peace of mind knowing her hard work is paying off, and she’s doing it with the help of her family.

“I just hope to make them proud and allow to see that their sacrifice was worthwhile.”

In just a few months, Vazquez will be walking across the stage with people snapping photos to capture her own special moment, just like she’s able to do for others.

This scholarship is the second USF scholarship the Leungs have created. It’s tailored for migrant students who live in the Wimauma and Ruskin areas. The four students awarded this year will receive $5,000 for each semester.