Paying for college profile: Sam Figueroa
A sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, Sam Figueroa has already overcome a lot. That includes losing his father when he was young, which impacted his academic performance.
“Going into high school, I saw that I had to make a change. I learned to control my anger by thinking about the future and about the consequences of my actions for the first time. I gave everything I had to my studies,” Figueroa said, reflecting on his past. And the Oakdale native developed a passion for education. “I heard about St. Thomas from one of my high school teachers who went to there,” Figueroa said. “Even though the odds were against me I made it though and got accepted here.”
Although he’s just a sophomore, Figueroa is already focusing on a career in law and will be joining the pre-law society at St. Thomas. “I’m going to become a criminal defense attorney and fight for the rights of people who don’t have the education and advantages that I have had — minorities, poor people, people who are looked down on by society, and people who don’t have anyone to speak for them,” Figueroa said. “All of my efforts in school are focused on this goal.”
He is also committed to personal fitness; he works with other students to achieve their personal fitness goals as well as working towards his. In addition, Figueroa is a member of St. Thomas’ Saint Paul’s Outreach, a student faith organization that offers him a chance to reflect on his spirituality.
As for paying for college, he recalls some initial challenges figuring out how to make it work. “The application process for financial aid was definitely time-consuming.” He received some guidance about the FAFSA from a tutor and applied to a large number of scholarships.
His financial aid package from St. Thomas includes Minnesota State Grant funding, a federal Pell Grant and multiple scholarships, including need-based scholarships from the institution. “I feel really blessed to have lots of scholarships and grants from the government,” Figueroa said. Figueroa also received the Cashman Scholarship, a scholarship for first-generation students. He said he is glad that he can focus on his academics and not worry about student finances.
Figueroa has some advice for students going through the process: “Don’t be afraid of applying to as many scholarships as possible,” he said. “Also, do your FAFSA as soon as possible, don’t procrastinate.”
by Tom Lancaster
Other paying for college profiles:
- Chazz Robinson, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
- Tiana Danforth, St. Catherine University
- Haley Coller, Gustavus Adolphus College
- Delissa Hernandez, Augsburg University