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Carlos Zaffirini Jr. announces grants for Healthcare Workers Student Loan Debt

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

AUSTIN - In the spirit of giving, while being mindful of the unprecedented events in 2020, Carlos Zaffirini Jr. is pleased to award six grants to frontline healthcare workers to help pay off their college student loans as part of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Debt Grant Program, which he founded in honor of his mother, in 2018.

This recognition is an expression of gratitude for the sacrifices made by these remarkable members of our Texas communities.  It is the honor of Zaffirini Jr. to contribute resources to reduce the debt of our neighbors who worked tirelessly to earn their degrees in pursuit of careers dedicated to the lives of others.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, the recipients attended a virtual ceremony hosted by the CEO of Central Health, Mike Geeslin. Friends and family of the recipients, community leaders, educators, and many others gathered as Senator Zaffirini recognized the 2020 award recipients and acknowledged their dedication to keep Texans healthy and safe while continuing to work during uncertain and high-risk conditions.

Partnering with Community Care, this year’s honorees are Dawn Martinez, Senior Medical Admitting Clerk; Celestina Morales, Medical Assistant/Medical Admitting Clerk; Rozanne Nolasco, Medical Assistant--Care Coordinator; Ann Thomas, Registered Nurse; Rocio Torres, Medical Assistant; Melody Valdez, Administrative Supervisor.

Each of the honorees will receive a $2,000 grant toward their college student loans.  To qualify for this award, applicants need to have been employed in their current professional positions for a minimum of one year and have a minimum of $5,000 in student loans. Each recipient of this grant was nominated by their employer, our partner, Community Care.

Zaffirini, Jr. established this program as a testament to his mother, Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini, who thanks to a National Defense Student Loan, earned three degrees at The University of Texas at Austin.  Zassirini Jr. witnessed first-hand the countless benefits of higher education and the burden of student loans.  For this, the Zaffirini family is committed to create new pathways for others.  

“It is your compassion, your love, and your humanity that is helping society survive this terrible pandemic,” Carlos Zaffirini said. “These grants are intended to incentivize more people to accept the call to help our safety-net, and to help our healthcare workers through these difficult economic times. You see, my mom and I both believe that you and other healthcare workers should not need to mortgage your lives for wanting to help and serve our community’s patients.”

“This pandemic is presenting physical, financial, and emotional obstacles that only exacerbate the stresses of an already-demanding career—not to mention the persistent burden of student loan debt,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Your commitment to serving your community every day, despite the circumstances, is as impressive as it is inspiring.”

Since 2018, The College Student Debt Program has awarded 10 grants in Laredo and 11 in Austin with recipients including educators and frontline healthcare workers. The impact of this program has encouraged us to continue this work in the years to come.