My mother came to New York from El Salvador to stay safe from the civil war that had been going on for 12 years. I was born in New York, and shortly after my birth the El Salvador peace agreements were signed. We returned to our country, to San Salvador, where my mother raised me while finishing her medical degree from the National University in El Salvador.
When it came time for me to go to college, I knew I wanted to return to New York to study economic development. My hope was that I could one day help developing countries like El Salvador. But my parents didn't have the means--my mother had been working for many years in impoverished and rural areas, providing medical attention and health campaigns. I came any way, on my own. I lived with relatives for a short time and got a scholarship to attend Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), before transferring to Baruch in my sophomore year.
At first, I wasn't sure how I could pay for school. I thought I might have to take a few semesters off to save the money, which would delay graduating. But the Baruch Financial Aid Office helped connect me with the London Family Scholarship, which I received for two years. It meant a lot to me: I don't even know the London family, yet somehow they believed in me and saw my potential. It helped me not only with school, but also with being able to find housing and to live on my own.
The scholarship gave me more confidence in the reasons that I came to study economic development in the first place, and it allowed me to focus on school. I got to work as a research assistant to Professor Sean Crockett, who is conducting a study of behavioral economics. I was also able to work through the Admissions Office as an admissions ambassador at the Welcome Center, helping students and their families at events such as Open House.
Now, as a graduate, I am currently working on my Master's in economics. To do research for international organizations and nonprofits, to bring new ideas to developing countries, such as El Salvador--that is still my goal. The London scholarship helped to make this possible, giving me the important financial and emotional support to make it this far. I'm so grateful.
Without philanthropy, students like Ana would not be able to obtain an outstanding affordable education. This November 29, the City University of New York (CUNY) is participating in its first-ever global day of giving, #CUNYTuesday. 24 Hours. 24 Colleges. 1 CUNY.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the #GivingTuesday Team at 92nd Street Y, to celebrate #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a global giving movement, and the series (which will feature content throughout November) aims to celebrate how people are giving back around the world. For more information about #GivingTuesday, visit here. And to join the conversation on social media, use the hashtag #GivingTuesday.