The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) presented the “Reach Higher” Business Scholarship program in partnership with Florida Technical College (FTC). To contribute to the growth of Latino entrepreneurship, the annual Hispanic Heritage Month scholarship initiative awarded one full-ride scholarship applicable towards tuition and fees for the bachelor’s degree program in Business Entrepreneurship, Management, and Marketing.
Nonetheless, Gladys Sherpa a Puerto Rican native and an entrepreneur herself was honorably awarded the “Reach Higher” scholarship to attend FTC at no cost.
A ceremony for celebration was hosted on her behalf at her future school facility. Family, friends, FTC and HCCMO representatives, and local elected officials all attended and delivered messages to honor Gladys in this new journey she is about to embark.
After the celebration, we had the opportunity to talk to Gladys, and thought it would be great to share her beautiful story full of inspiration and empowerment.R
A mother of two, an entrepreneur, an active member of HCCMO, and in our community Ms. Sherpa embodies all that is for a great leader. What you may not know is the story behind her personal and professional journey, which began with her mother, someone who is a great source of inspiration for her.
Gladys tells us, “I grew up watching my mother, a smart and talented woman, struggle so much when she came to this country, she was always working and giving her best, even though she didn’t know how to speak English”.
“She set a great example for me and constantly told me, ‘If you want something, you have to work hard and never give up, don’t listen to anyone. If your heart races when you think about it, that’s your passion. Go after it.’ Even today, I still hear the echo of her words: KEEP GOING AND NEVER STOP” a messaged stated by Ms. Sherpa.
What has it meant to you to be part of the HCCMO family?
It’s motivating! You go with the intention to network, but end up building a family. I joined HCCMO 3 years ago. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for my growth and personal development. You find courage in others’ stories, struggles, and wins. Also, find guidance and mentorship from those in your community. It has completely changed my perspective on all the goals I can achieve, which I didn’t think were possible before.
What prompted you to apply for the FTC scholarship?
I saw an opportunity, and I had to go for it! It aligns with all of my current business goals. I didn’t get the chance to go to college, and I knew the scholarship would open more doors for me.
What do your children tell you about this new chapter of your life, seeing their mother as a student?
Honestly, my son is amazed. He sees all my hard work and knows that I’ve wanted this for such a long time. We were so focused on getting him into college soon, and now both of us can attend and obtain our degrees. This opportunity still allows me to finish college before he does and keeps motivating him to never give up.
How do you feel your life has changed after winning this scholarship?
Since winning the scholarship, I’ve received tons of congratulations from people that NOW know about my business and who I am. Winning the scholarship has provided a ton of exposure, and that’s great for any business owner. Plus, I love to learn. If you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room. This opportunity will allow me to learn skills I can use to develop myself as a leader to help others.
In closing, Ms. Sherpa shared a few words for all those who are pursuing their dreams: “Always be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Her story and message has motivated us to strive for better and that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Here, at HCCMO, we feel confident that FTC will provide Ms. Sherpa the right tools to continue to gain knowledge and grow her entrepreneurial journey.