Nelly Quijano came to America in the aboriginal 1960s as a adolescent Cuban teen, allotment of an departure of 14,000 unaccompanied accouchement beatific into banishment in the U.S. by their parents afterwards Fidel Castro’s left-wing “revolution” took ascendancy of the island.
Quijano was 15 aback she accustomed on a flight with a attache accustomed her bare backing and no money. Today, she’s a fable amidst restaurant authorization owners afterwards operating added than 20 McDonald’s in the Houston breadth with her backward bedmate Dominic Quijano. The brace is accustomed with developing the breakfast burrito that is now served at McDonalds about the world.
But her proudest ability is allowance authorize McDonald’s Hispanic American Commitment to Apprenticeship Assets Foundation — accepted by its initials, HACER — which has awarded $4.5 actor to disadvantaged Hispanic acceptance aback it was accustomed in 1985. The Spanish chat “hacer” agency “to make.”
This year, HACER awarded bristles scholarships of $100,000 anniversary to socioeconomically disadvantaged Latino students, including two from Houston.
Application: The aeon begins October and continues until February.
Amounts: Two of $100,000, two of $50,000 and 20 of 25,000.
Be a aerial academy senior.
Be a acknowledged U.S. resident.
Be adolescent than 21 years old.
Carry a minimum 2.7 GPA.
Be acceptable to arise a two- or four-year academy or university with a full-time beforehand of study.
Disclose added scholarship programs for which he or she has applied.
Enroll and arise an accepted academy in the bookish year afterwards actuality selection.
Have at atomic one ancestor of Hispanic heritage.
“To me, this is about authoritative absoluteness the dreams that we all accept aback we arise to America through the ability of education,” said Quijano. “I capital to advice added kids to get the apprenticeship that I so abundant capital aback I came… but with annihilation to pay for it.”
Heights Aerial Academy alum attends Harvard
One of those advantageous aerial academy acceptance to accept a HACER scholarship is Bridgette Ramirez, a alum of Heights Aerial School.
Ramirez, a first-generation American built-in in a ancestors of immigrants from Mexico, is application the money to arise Harvard University.
The HACER scholarship is “a actual base acquaintance and a actual motivational one as well,” said Ramirez, who is advancing a bulk in animal adorning and adorning analysis while afterward the pre-med track. “To accept complete strangers abutment me in doubtful means is actual inspiring.”
Ramirez was aloft by a ancestors with few assets who formed tirelessly, she says.
“My sister and I referred to my dad as the moon aback we were young,” she recalled. “He would arise aback we were sleeping, and he’d be gone by the time we awoke.”
Ramirez keeps in blow with her continued ancestors in Mexico and remembers that her affectionate grandmother never abstruse to apprehend or write.
“Attending Harvard at no bulk is a admirable way to avenge what was ripped from her aloof because of society’s norms for women,” she said.
Legacy of adamantine work
Working endlessly has additionally been the activity adventure of Quijano, who congenital a business authority from blemish with her husband.
Sitting afresh at one of her restaurants, she remembered her aboriginal struggles afterwards she boarded the quick flight from Cuba to America as allotment of a U.S.-coordinated affairs accepted as Pedro (Peter) Pan. The operation, run in affiliation of the Catholic church, lasted about two years from its birth in backward 1960. Quijano’s parents, like others who beatific their accouchement abroad, remained abaft in the mistaken acceptance that Castro would be bound overthrown.
Quijano’s bond of an acute adieu on the island ample her eyes with tears.
“I was the alone child; you can brainstorm the cede (my parents) were authoritative to be accommodating to abstracted from me to accomplish abiding I had freedom,” she says, apropos to a five-year separation.
Quijano accustomed in Miami with bare belongings: three sets of undergarments, a purse, the dress she wore, a bounce covering and the best admired of all — a baby arena engraved with her initials. Her mother ordered a clothier to accomplish the coat, which she recalled looked “beautiful” on her, abnormally for the trip.
On that day in February 1961, she accustomed in the U.S. to alive with ancestors in New Jersey and go to assignment in a packing facility.
“I capital to study,” she said. “I dreamed of actuality a doctor, but they didn’t put me in school.”
Quijano said it became bright the approaching was chastening to make.
“I accepted that (path) wasn’t activity to booty me anywhere. ‘Nothing is activity to stop me from authoritative article out of myself,’ ” she thought.
She begin her aerial academy sweetheart from Cuba, and the two were married.
When a New Jersey t business they created austere to the ground, her bedmate capital to clean it, but she didn’t see their approaching in an industry already corrupt amidst growing imports.
Quijano focused on the befalling of owning a McDonald’s restaurant, and they confused to Houston to accessible their aboriginal authorization in the heavily Hispanic East End on Harrisburg Boulevard.
It was there that the brace began to agreement with capacity to actualize the burrito.
“We Cubans don’t accept burritos in our cuisine,” she said, but they accomplished that in Texas, the alms should be included on the breakfast menu. And so the McDonald Mexican bowl was built-in in their aboriginal restaurant kitchen in 1985, afterwards six months of attempts and bounded customers’ recommendations.
The association broadcast the action nationally and after to the apple in 1989. Today, Quijano is acclaimed in the account of the McDonald’s association and was accustomed aftermost ages in Chicago with the Legacy Award.
She insists that to beforehand in a career, you charge accept in the ability of baby steps.
“We began HACER in Texas with alone $500,” she said. “It was a little alarming if you anticipate about the amount, but we anticipation that it could at atomic advice bristles acceptance with $100 to buy academy books.”
‘You accept to persist’
That is a continued way to the $100,000 accustomed by Miles Aceves-Lewis, the added civic scholarship champ this year from Houston.
Aceves-Lewis is an Afro-Latino from the Midtown area, area he was homeschooled due in allotment to banking constraints as able-bodied as actuality at his mother’s ancillary as she battled a abiding illness. Application the HACER scholarship, he affairs to accompany a bifold above in government and amends and accord studies at Georgetown University.
“It fills me with joy to apperceive that my adamantine assignment has been accustomed and rewarded,” said Aceves-Lewis, a aerial achiever who has won several recognitions, including the Memory Master Accolade for three after years.
Quijano, who is a affiliate of the HACER board, said that she is afflicted by both Ramirez and Aceves-Lewis.
“It makes me appreciative to be allotment of the bodies from my aggregation authoritative an appulse in their life; it’s my way to accord back,” she said.
In accession to the civic McDonald’s grants, the authorization owners in Texas amalgamate their efforts to accolade 50 scholarships of $2,500 per year, she said. The owners accord one penny for every batter of broad French chips they buy, behindhand of how abounding they end up affairs at their restaurants.
Beginning after this month, McDonald’s aggrandize its scholarship to accommodate two scholarships of $100,000, two of $50,000 and 20 of $25,000.
“I appetite our Texas (high school) seniors to apply; it can accomplish a big aberration in the activity of kids that are acceptable acceptance but cannot allow college; I appetite them to go advanced ceaseless as I did,” she said.“And honey, I haven’t accomplished yet, we accept to accumulate growing,” said the acknowledged baron “No is a chat that isn’t in my vocabulary. You accept to persist.”
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