Manuela Ponce knew Concordia University, St. Paul would be a “good fit for me” with its small class sizes. “Here the teachers actually know who you are when you send them an email,” she says. “You can talk with them without explaining every time which of their classes you’re in.”

She is also grateful for the college’s career services center, which she has already used for help with a resume and cover letter. “I don’t know exactly what job I can find after graduation, but the people in the career center are always open to taking with me about it,” she says.

Ponce chose biology because she likes science and enjoys learning about the human body. “One of my favorite classes was human gross anatomy — that was really fun,” she says. “All the physiology courses, both human and animal, have been very interesting.”

Working in the dining hall as a cashier has helped with the bills, but it is the U.S. Bank Foundation Scholarship that has made the big difference, says Ponce. U.S. Bank scholars must be students of color with demonstrated financial need, good grades, and a home base in a state served by U.S. Bank.

“I have four siblings and I’m the first person in my family to attend college. My parents are helping me pay for school, but having this scholarship has relieved a lot of our stress in figuring out how to cover the expenses,” says Ponce.

“Growing up, I saw how hard it was to get a good job without a college degree. I know that getting this degree will make my life easier.”