The 19-year-old sounds a bit timid when she picks up the phone. She is soft-spoken and quiet at first, not quite sure what to say. Cesmarie Perez Miranda is just thankful.
School has always been important to her, and with her mother as her biggest cheerleader and a scholarship from Crowley Maritime Corporation she says she has all she needs to have a successful college career.
"I consider myself to be the type of person who is totally dedicated in everything that I do. I am the type of person who works hard for what I want," Perez Miranda said in a recent phone interview from her home in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
"And I am truly grateful and would like to thank Crowley for helping me achieve my goals," she said.
Last week, Perez Miranda was awarded the Thomas B. Crowley, Sr. Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is offered every year to students who show academic success and show a financial need. The scholarship covers $1,500 each semester for books and tuition.
Perez Miranda, a Boston native, moved to Puerto Rico with her mother, Marianita Miranda, and her now-15-year-old brother shortly after her parents divorced. She was three. The family lived with her grandparents.
Perez Miranda graduated from Antonio Sarriera Egozcue High School in Carolina with a 4.0 grade-point-average and is planning to pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Puerto Rico, located in Rio Piedras. On Sundays, she leads the youth group at her church. She likes to talk about real-life situations with others and admits life hasn't been easy in a single-parent home.
With the support of her family but especially her mother, a public school social worker, Perez Miranda was able to leave a mark both as an exemplary student and as a positive role model to other young adults her age.
"It hasn't been easy to get to where I am. I have had a lot of experiences in my life but I think all those experiences have helped me mature and make me into the person I am today," she said. "I also credit my mother because she always put her children ahead of herself and always encouraged us. She's given us the liberty to make our own decisions but she always had words of wisdom for me."
Rita Gonzalez, the director of HR/Labor Relations in Puerto Rico, presented Miranda Perez the scholarship check last week. Gonzalez described the 19-year-old as a bright, positive and beautiful young woman.
Perez Miranda has received numerous accolades for her academic performance, including recognition from the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. She has also volunteered for the "Programa Rescate a Tiempo", a tutoring program geared at assisting elementary school children with their homework and keeping them focused on school.
The Thomas B. Crowley, Sr. Memorial Scholarship began in 1984 in Puerto Rico. Perez Miranda is the 25th student to receive the award. The Puerto Rico Department of Education selects the student who will receive the scholarship based on specific criteria set by Crowley. The student continues to receive the $1,500 scholarship each semester throughout their college career and must maintain good academic standing at the college.