First generation student receives $5,000 college scholarship

Tai is one of 15 students nationwide, and the only one in Fla., to be selected
First generation student receives $5,000 college scholarship Lesley Tai in New York City

Published Sep. 13, 2011

Lesley Tai, a senior at Lynn University, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for the 2011-12 academic year from the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC) 2011 HSBC First Opportunity Partner Program. Tai is one of only 15 students attending private institutions nationwide, and the only one in Florida, selected for the scholarship.

Lesley_TaiTai, a 19-year-old, first-generation college student, is grateful for the support.

“This scholarship means a lot to me,” said Tai. “It has encouraged me to work harder and to fulfill my dream of being a college graduate.” Karen Reed, a financial aid counselor at Lynn, nominated Tai for the scholarship.

Tai came to Lynn as a freshman in 2009 and signed up for Lynn’s 3-year degree program once it was announced. Majoring in hospitality, while maintaining an on-campus job as an office assistant in the College of Hospitality Management, Tai has proven herself a dedicated student.

“I grew up knowing that everything in life is possible when you work very hard for it,” said Tai. “Education has always been very important to my family which is why I have always pushed myself to get better grades and improve in everything possible.”

Although born and raised in Ecuador, Tai comes from an Asian family. At 11 years old, Tai, her mother and her two siblings moved to New York City to learn English and strive for better opportunities. Tai’s father passed away from lung cancer when she only was nine years old.

After graduation, Tai, who speaks Cantonese fluently, plans to travel to Shanghai to learn about the culture and improve her Mandarin. She would also like to work for a boutique hotel.

HSBC First Opportunity Partner Scholars program:

The $5,000 scholarships for the 15 students’ senior year of study were funded by a grant from HSCB-North America, the global financial services company. In the selection process, special consideration was given to students striving to overcome extraordinary hardships or obstacles. Students from families in the greater Los Angeles and New York City areas – the primary markets for HSBC-North America – were eligible to be nominated for the award by their respective colleges.

In addition to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., students from the following higher education institutions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia and Oregon also received a $5,000 scholarship.

Universities with scholarship recipients include:

  • Allegheny College (Pa.)
  • Caldwell College (N.J.)
  • Cedar Crest College (Pa.)
  • College of Saint Elizabeth (N.J.)
  • Drew University (N.J.)
  • Felician College (N.J.)
  • George Fox University (Ore.)
  • Georgian Court University (N.J.)
  • Hollins University (Va.)
  • Monmouth University (N.J.)
  • Saint Peter’s College (N.J.)
  • Seattle Pacific University (Wash.)
  • Susquehanna University  (Pa.)
  • University of Puget Sound (Wash.)

The grants were provided by CIC to the state association for private colleges and universities in each student’s state. These “State Funded Members” of CIC then presented the scholarship checks to the respective colleges and universities.

This is the sixth successive year in which HSBC and CIC have partnered on the HSBC First Opportunity Partner Program and the project “has already proven successful,” Ekman said. "HSBC Scholars have achieved a truly remarkable 96 percent graduation rate, far above the national average.”