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To College and Beyond

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Ashley Moyer turned her love for teaching and education into a full-time job, but not in the way she originally expected.

When Ashley Moyer was 7 years old, she dreamed of becoming a teacher. Although she started as an education major at Texas Christian University, the now 27-year-old made the switch to communication studies and found her interest in the nonprofit sector. Little did she know her love for education would stay with her.

This year, Moyer is celebrating her third year as the executive director of the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium, a nonprofit organization focused on investing in students as they navigate college and continue to establish themselves in the professional world.

In essence, Moyer’s work has come full circle, as the purpose of the HSC is to help students achieve dreams of their own.

“More than a scholarship program, we try to work with our students throughout their college careers. The majority of the scholarships that are offered on our website are renewable,” Moyer says, noting that the average scholarship awarded is $2,000 and can be renewed for as long as four years, making it an $8,000 scholarship in total. “Most of the time, we are with these students until they graduate college and beyond that.”

Upon completing her studies in Fort Worth, Texas, Moyer embarked on a six-month job search in the surrounding Dallas area. With her focus aimed on working in the education and nonprofit fields, she eventually accepted a position as an AmeriCorps-VISTA with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

After moving to Austin a few years later, Moyer found a job in just two weeks. Prior to her current position as executive director of the HSC, Moyer worked at San Juan Diego Catholic High School in Austin, as well as in admissions at Concordia University Texas, where she continued to follow her passion of supporting students.

Since the consortium was founded in 2004, HSC has awarded nearly $2 million in scholarships to Hispanic students—the majority of whom are primarily concentrated in Central Texas, and often come from low-income households from which they are the first in their family to attend college.

Moyer is the HSC’s only full-time employee, but she is not alone in her efforts. Sponsors such as the Hispanic Physicians Association help make each scholarship possible.

“It is so great to be able to reach out to our sponsors for the students,” Moyer says. “It’s those sponsors that are so supportive. They really want to see the students succeed by giving them all the resources they might need.”

In order to connect scholarship recipients with working professionals in a variety of fields, HSC also hosts two leadership-development conferences each year. Moyer explains one of the largest obstacles eligible students face is the lack of networking opportunities with both young professionals and university students, something the leadership-development conferences address.

“This year, 86 percent of our recipients are the first in their families to go to college,” Moyer says. “We try to get them caught up on what we call ‘social capital’ by reaching out to professionals in their field of interest.”

For the students, receiving a scholarship award from the HSC is a point of entry into a larger community. More than simply offering an exchange of funds, the consortium focuses on building relationships that last long after the students have graduated from college.

“When I started at HSC, we had just started a partnership with Austin ISD,” Moyer says. “We replicated the conferences we put on for our [college] students and brought it to the high-school level.”

At the end of the program, the high-school students were able to provide personal feedback to Moyer and her team. One student in particular, Moyer remembers, stood out.

“One student said their favorite part of their day was that they got to talk to an {actual} college student. The word ‘actual’ stands out to me. [It was] as if, for them, the idea of even getting a chance to talk to someone in college was farfetched,” she says.

Since Moyer joined the HSC in 2014, the nonprofit has awarded more than 162 renewable scholarships. She may not have pursued her childhood dream of instructing a classroom, but her impact in education is an accomplishment that surpasses her biggest dreams.

“If I could time travel, I could touch base with 7-year-old Ashley and she would be happy with what I’m doing now,” Moyer says. “I think she’d be happy to see that I am still supporting education and students in some capacity.”

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