About the scholarships
The Fr. Jon Cortina Solidarity Scholarship program has provided youth from the town of Guarjila, Chalatenango, El Salvador the opportunity to study in universities since 2011. The students who apply need to show not only great academic performance, but more importantly a commitment to improving their community while they study and after they finish their degree. Students complete community service work during the academic year like teaching adult literacy classes, helping in classrooms and giving lessons to youth on radio broadcasting. Students are supported locally by the program coordinator, Luis Lopez, who has worked with the Tamarindo youth group since its founding in 1992 and is employed by the Tamarindo Foundation. Luis has served as president of the town’s leadership council. Luis monitors student’s academic progress, community service work, and communication with funders. Luis runs the monthly scholarship committee meetings which consists of 5 members who represent a broad spectrum of the community including education, youth work, and town leadership. The committee’s role is to select deserving applicants and support them throughout their course of study. The program is supported by Tamarindo Foundation Board Member Joe Albers. If you have any questions please contact Joe.
Recent Scholarship Recipients
Sonia Navarro Palma (Science Education)
Sonia is in her fifth year of college and has achieved straight A’s in a science education program at a university an hour away. Sonia’s goal is to become a science teacher and eventually a principal. Her father works the fields and earns modest income while her mother takes care of the house. For her community service project, Sonia continues to assist a 1st grade teacher in the classroom every week.
Magali Tobar Guardado (Public Relations)
Magali is in her fifth year studying Public Relations at the local private university. She hopes to work for local businesses in the marketing field. She is the daughter of an elementary school teacher in Guarjila and has a little sister and another sibling on the way. For her community service project, Magali tutors students weekly in the local grade school who are having difficulty reading and writing.
Jacqueline Molina Lopez (Nursing
Jacqueline is in her fifth year of Nursing School at the local private university. Upon completing her 5-year degree she wants to work both in the local hospital as a nurse and as a health educator within the community. Her father works in agriculture and her mother works as an assistant in the local health clinic. Her community service project is addressing the issue of teen pregnancy through working with teens by hosting talks about sexuality and pregnancy prevention.
Leticia Munoz Dubon (Computer Science)
Leticia is in her fourth year of pursuing a degree in Computer Science at the local private university with the goal of becoming computer education teacher. She has faced a lot of adversity growing up as her younger brother suffers from muscular dystrophy and her parents divorced. For her community service project, Leticia tutors students in the third grade who are in need of extra help.
Yesica Cruz Rivera (Science Education)
Yesica is in her fourth year of her bachelor’s degree in Computer Education at the private university an hour away from Guarjila with the goal of becoming a computer education teacher. Yesica has not only worked hard academically, but has also been challenged by supporting her younger brother who has lived with cerebral palsy. Yesica volunteers weekly assisting a teacher to not only help the students, but also learn more about the teaching profession for her community service project.
Juan Carlos Miranda Rivera (Accounting)
Juan Carlos finished a technical degree in Civil Engineering last year and has enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Juan has been a very active Tamarindo and wants to become an accountant. Juan is the only child of a single mother and wants his education to be able to support his mother. Juan currently volunteers as the assistant to the principle of the local grade school.
Ana Marilu Chavarría Alfaro (Computer Engineering)
Marilu Chavarria is in her third year of a computer system engineering degree. This is her first bachelor’s degree, but also has a technical degree in computer maintenance and an associates degree in business administration. She hopes to someday continue studying in the United States. Her father works in the fields while her mother has a tiny store in the center of town to help support the family. Marilu hopes to use her degree to support herself and family. Almost fluent in English, Marilu teaches an english class once a week at the Tamarindo.
Yanci Johana Melgar Monge (English)
Yanci is in her fourth year at the National University in San Salvador. She is pursuing a degree in the English language and hopes to use her degree to be an English teacher or translator. She has 4 siblings and lives with her parents who met in the refugee camp in Honduras during the war. Yanci volunteers in the Museo Jon Cortina assisting to document and record stories from the war.
German Alexander Delgado Muñoz (Law)
Alexander Delgado is a fourth year law student at the National University in the capital, San Salvador. The youngest of 13, Alexander hopes to support his family by using his law degree to defend human rights and eventually open his own practice. He gives back to his community by giving talks about laws and rights at the Tamarindo.
Carlos Ernesto Pineda Castro (Business Administration)
Carlos Pineda is in his second year of a business administration degree at the local university. After the death of his father, Carlos and his brother lived at an orphanage for five years while his mother worked. Later, he moved to Guarjila to live with his step father, mother, and brother and sister. After graduation he hopes to work as a general manager or project manager for new businesses. He currently volunteers with the town counsel, or “Directiva” of Guarjila.
Gerson Andony Zelaya Ortega (Social Work)
Gerson Zelaya is in his third year as a Social Work major. His family owns a small store in the town of Chalatenango, which supports him, his older brother, younger, sister, mother, and father. In the future he hopes to help people live successful lives, hoping to deter the desire to emigrate to the United States and other countries. Gerson is passionate about helping others and demonstrates his dedication to his community through volunteering to teach illiterate adults how to read and write.
Ana Marisol Cruz Serrano (Law)
Marisol Cruz is in her second year of law school at the National University in the capital. She lives with her mother and sister in Guarjila. When she was 3 years old her father left her mother to move to the United States. Marisol hopes to make an impact on the justice system, convicting those who negatively affect El Salvador and defending the innocent. Along side Alexander, a Cortina Scholar, Marisol give talks and lessons on laws at the Tamarindo.
Susana Beatriz Serrano Castro (Nursing)
Suzie Serrano is in her 5th year of studying to be a nurse and is in her practicum, receiving hands on experience. She comes from a family of 5: her mother, father, brother, sister, and herself. Her father worked in construction until he was diagnosed with spinal tumors which prevented him from working and took his life a few years later. As a nurse she hopes to help support her family and those in similar situations as her father. She currently volunteers tutoring first graders who have trouble learning to read.
Oscar Antonio Castillo (Social Work)
Oscar Castillo is in his third year as a Social Work major at the local private university. He is the only of his family to finish high school and attend college. Active in his community, Oscar participates in a local theatre company and art communities in Guarjila, Los Ranchos, and Las Flores. He hopes to work in educational development of communities. For his community service project he hosts workshops for other Cortina Scholars and community members.
Saira Stefany Carabantes Dubon (Social Work)
Saira is a third year social work major at the local university. She has two younger siblings and lives near the Tamarindo. She hopes to help others and her community through her social work degree. To give back to her community she works with two other Cortina Scholars to host workshops for other Cortina and community members.
Rosa Delmy Chavarria Miranda (Social Work)
Delmy is also a third year social work major at the local university. She comes from a family of six. Her father works in agriculture while her mother is a stay-at-home-mom. She is purusing her degree to help support her family and give back to her community. Along with Saira and Oscar, Delmy volunteers her time to put on workshops for Cortina Scholars and other community members.
Alexis Omar Mejia Miranda (Public Relations)
Alexis Mejia is a first year at the local university studying Public Relations. He is a long time Tamarindo thanks to his mother and siblings who are also Tamarindos. He hopes to use his degree to help support his single mother and little sister. Alexis currently volunteers in the local public school as a teacher’s assistant, yet loves music and radio and hopes to volunteer in the community through the local radio station.
Idalia Brendaly Pineda Muñoz (English)
Brendaly Pineda is in her first year at the Technological University of San Salvador studying English. Her father works in construction when there is work to help support her family. Her older sister was blinded in an accident, yet is now studying at the local university. Brendaly hopes to become an English teacher and hopes to help with English classes at the Tamarindo as her community service project.
Erick Geovanny Sibrian Ayala (Accounting)
Erick Sibrian is in his first year as an Accounting major at the local private university. His family was displaced during the war and lived in Honduras as refugees. They later came to Guarjila where his father now works in the fields and his mother as a stay-at-home mom. He hopes to use his accounting degree to have a stable job to help support his family. Erick is passionate about health and nutrition and hopes to volunteer in the clinic.
Fanny Elizabeth Orellana Morales (Social Work)
Fanny is a third year social work student at the local university. She lives with her mother and step father and two half brothers. Her sister emigrated to the United States at an early age and was unable to complete her dream of becoming a doctor. Fanny hopes to complete her degree for her sister and to help out her family in the hopes that her younger siblings will be able to study as well. For her community service project Fanny tutors children in first through fourth grade.
Ingrid Zuleyma Peña Serrano (Nursing)
Ingrid is a first year nursing student. She lives with her mother, stepfather, two siblings, grandparents, and uncle in a small house in Guarjila. Her stepfather makes ends meet through working in the fields and construction. Ingrid is the first of her family to go to college and she hopes to help support her family through a career as a nurse. To give back to the community she currently volunteers at the local clinic.
Noemy Rivera Orellana (International Relations)
Noemy is a first year International Relations student at the National University in San Salvador. Having taken a two year break after graduating high school, Noemy is motivated to return to school to help make a better life for her and her family. As her community service project she hopes to give sexual education talks to teens.
Cortina Student Memorium: Dinora Amaya
Dinora was not on this earth long enough, but was a flash of life that enlivened all of our hearts. Her infectious laughter, zest for life, passion for others, and determination are remembered by everyone who knew her. She was studying to be an accountant when she died suddenly from an acute medical condition. Her generosity and dedication are examples for all of our current students.
About Fr. Jon Cortina, SJ
The scholarship program is named honoring Fr. Cortina, a Spanish Jesuit Priest, who lived and worked in El Salvador from 1955 until his death in 2005. He dedicated his life to improving the community of Guarjila, a community of former refugees from the Salvadoran Civil War, throughout the war and after. In addition to organizing many of the efforts to rebuild Guarjila after the war, he also founded an organization, Pro-Búsqueda, which sought to reunite children who were abducted during the war with their families. He always embodied solidarity with the people by choosing to do everything in his power to make Guarjila whole after being ravaged by a brutal war. The scholarship committee chose the name honoring the life of Fr. Jon Cortina with the hope that the scholarship recipients will continue his work of improving the community in Guarjila.