Pan American Association of Philadelphia grants annual scholarships remotely amid COVID-19
Ten students from universities throughout the Greater Philadelphia region received awards worth up to $5,000.
Since 1940, the Pan American Association of Philadelphia (PAAP) has been dedicated to promoting cultural, educational and economic activities to increase understanding and cooperation among the peoples of the Americas.
Some of its founders were academics from universities in the surrounding Philadelphia region, making awards for students an early mission for the association.
“The notion that there would be support for students was part of the DNA of the organization,” said current PAAP president Romy Diaz.
The amount given out to students has also gradually increased in the last eight years. In 2020, the organization granted nearly $20,000 in awards to Greater Philadelphia-area students for their academic excellence, community service and engagement with Latin America.
There are four awards in total. The Alejandro Reyes Award, named for one of PAAP’s founders is worth $5,000 goes to an undergraduate junior entering their senior year of college who’s displayed both academic and extracurricular excellence in studying something in the realm of Latin America and has plans to work there after graduation.
The Carmelita Manning Community Service Award, named for a past president of PAAP, is also worth $5,000 and goes to an undergrad that has displayed exemplary community service in Latin America or in the surrounding Philadelphia Latino community.
The last $5,000 award is the Irene Rivera Diaz Award, named for the mother of current president Romy Diaz, and goes to an undergrad that, like the other awards, displays academic excellence in the area of Latin American studies (including Spanish and Portuguese languages) and comes from a disadvantaged background.
There is also Janice Bond Memorial Plaques, which are presented to a host of excelling graduating seniors worth $250 each.
The awards are normally given out at an annual luncheon hosted by PAAP on April 14, or Pan American Day in commemoration of the First International Conference of American States held in Washington D.C. in 1890.
But this year’s coronavirus pandemic canceled the ceremony, as it has many events for the remainder of 2020.
The cancellation seemingly put PAAP on shaky ground on whether it was giving any awards this year, but thanks to its sponsors, which included PECO/Excelon, Comcast/NBCUniversal and Blank Rome, they were given virtually.
In total, 10 area students received awards. They are as follows:
The Alejandro Reyes Award: Ivyanna Colón Greider, Temple University
Majoring in Latin American studies, Colón Greider hopes to receive a Fulbright scholarship for her work with ecofeminism and indigenous women in Latin America before pursuing a career in an organization helping indigenous women and immigrants after graduation.
The Carmelita Manning Community Service Award: Angela Reyes Cervantes, Swarthmore College
Coming from a mixed-status family has taught the sophomore computer science major about the importance of organizing in the community connecting its members to movements that help them prosper in the future.
The Irene Rivera Diaz Award: Jenni Berrios, Ursinus College
The native Texan and sophomore Spanish and photojournalism student comes from a Salvadoran family and is involved with the bilingual after school program CCATE, catered to Norristown’s Latino community.
Janice Bond Senior Award recipients:
Paul Ammons, Saint Joseph’s University
Maria Francesca Arruda de Amaral, University of Pennsylvania
Haley Clemson, Drexel University
Ellie Fleming, University of Delaware
Andrew Liflyandchik, Temple University
Amanda Turcios, Ursinus College
Lauren VanArsdale, Immaculata College