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Endowment and Awards Luncheon Remarks: Valeria Ayala Cucalon

I was so appreciative when I learned that I was selected as a recipient of the Scott Trustee Scholarship. I am from Guayaquil, Ecuador, but I moved to Florida when I was eight. Moving to the United States at such a young age opened up doors for me to unimaginable opportunities—opportunities that I did not understand at that moment. That was the same moment I learned the importance of being able to adapt to any situation and to embrace what the world throws your way. I learned the importance of not limiting yourself and always believing that as far away as a dream may seem, it is much more within reach than you will ever know. Most importantly I learned that there are things that are out of our control, but the simple acts of faith and hope can go a long way.

Penn State Architecture has played a large role in this. When I was young I had two dreams: one of becoming an architect that helped those in need, and one of traveling the world. Penn State has given me the ability to do both. I have had the opportunity to study abroad twice in the past two years. I took part in a study abroad program in China, the summer of 2014, where I had the opportunity to study real estate and construction management. This program led to my desire to pursue a master's in real estate development. I then proceeded to spend another semester abroad in Rome, where I was able to encounter first hand all of the beautiful architecture I had learned about throughout the years. Words cannot describe an experience of that nature. I am now in the process of finishing up my thesis, where I have had the chance to contribute to my community with the lessons that I have learned through my studies abroad in the last couple of years. I will receive my Bachelor of Architecture on May 7.

These experiences, however, did not come without a price—a price that I was fully aware was not within my capabilities. By awarding me the Scott Trustee Scholarship, you helped lighten this financial burden, you helped make those dreams that were out of reach feel like they were at the tips of my fingers. Without your generous contributions, all of these experiences I have mentioned would have been inaccessible, and I am extremely grateful that you have allowed me to make the surreal a reality.

Your help allowed me to focus on the most important aspect of school—learning—all the while making my dreams come true. It is because of this scholarship that I not only have had the ability to finish my studies, but I also was able to have experiences that changed my perspective entirely and opened my mind completely, making me the person that I am today. I hope one day I will also have the joy of helping other students just as you have helped me.