VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local non-profit is working to help students of all ages attend college.
Scholarship Sharing is hosting a college and scholarship fair on Saturday, September 21 at the Batten Center at Virginia Wesleyan University.
Founder Lorraine Santalucia is encouraging students to come out and learn not only about different colleges and vocational schools, but scholarships they’re offering to help make dreams come true.
“College is expensive, and there are so many students who don’t know what resources are out there,” she said.
Santalucia, who went to Virginia Commonwealth University, says she graduated from the school debt-free three times.
She wants others to not have to stress about financial issues as well.
Scholarship Sharing started when she was a freshman at VCU in 2010 after her family and friends asked her about her tips to scholarship success.
“My friends and family said ‘how are you doing this? Where is it coming from?’ I made it a Facebook page. I accidentally left it public and a week later, we had hundreds of students from VCU asking ‘where’s your office? What are your office hours? How can you help?'” she said.
Nine years later, she’s turned it into a non-profit that’s helped students not only in Virginia, but North Carolina and Washington, D.C.
VCU sophomore Erika Hernandez is one of those who has benefited.
She says she found out about the organization online.
“I was like this is super interesting. I did some research and background and saw they had Latino opportunities. That put me one up because I’m Latino. The internet is good use to be honest,” she said.
So she traveled all the way from Staunton to the college fair in Virginia Beach to learn more about colleges and the scholarships.
Hernandez believes that if she didn’t attend the fair and get the scholarship, she wouldn’t be in schools.
“We’re lower middle class, that doesn’t have all that money. I’d probably be at home working two to three jobs trying to get myself into school and actually pay for school. I wouldn’t be moved out at all if it wasn’t for scholarships helping to get into school,” she said.
The biology major says the best part about Scholarship Sharing is she can continue to apply for scholarships in the database.
Santalucia says it’s free to use, and so is the fair this weekend.
“It’s a real blessing for me to help so many students and give back to the community in this way, because the community supported me when it was time to go to school,” she said.
Santalucia says there will be seminars on how to look for scholarships as well as a scholarship raffle of $500.
Some colleges and schools will have on-site admissions and wave admissions fees.
All students are welcome to attend, from high school and college students as well as adults looking to go back to school.
Santalucia recommends registering before attending the event at https://www.scholarshipsharing.org/2019scholarshipfair.