Daniel Miranda, a 20-year-old Crofton resident pursuing a degree in English at the University of Maryland, has been named the first recipient of the national Roberto Clemente Memorial Scholarship, a new award created by the Roberto Clemente Foundation and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
The scholarship, worth $2,500, is named in honor of Clemente, the Hall of Fame baseball player and humanitarian from Puerto Rico, who died Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane crash while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Managua, Nicaragua.
Qualifications for the Roberto Clemente Memorial Scholarship include holding a grade-point average of 3.4 or higher, being the child of a Marines or U.S. Navy veteran, and having a particular need the scholarship would help. Students of Puerto Rican and other Latino descent are given priority.
Students become eligible to receive the Clemente scholarship once they have become recipients of other Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation awards.
“The Roberto Clemente Memorial Scholarship is a tribute to his enduring legacy of selfless service and sacrifice,” said Ted Probert, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marines and current president and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, in a news release. “Awarded annually beginning in 2023, this scholarship will ensure that more children of Marines have the opportunity to pursue higher education and achieve their academic aspirations.”
Miranda, who hopes to become a journalist, has been receiving scholarship funds from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation since he graduated from high school in 2020. He also is a graduate of Howard Community College.
The nonprofit provides scholarships to the children of current and former Marines, as well as enlisted Navy medical specialists who have served with Marine units.
Miranda’s father, Roger, a former sergeant in the Marines, couldn’t transfer his GI Bill, so the help his son has received from the foundation has been instrumental in his success, he said.
“My mom’s friend told me about the scholarship when my first year of college was coming up,” Miranda said. “Thankfully, I was accepted. It’s been tremendous in helping me graduate from Howard Community College.”
Miranda, awarded the Clemente scholarship Sept. 12, has received more than $1,000 each semester, which he spends on tuition and books.
Miranda, who is half Bolivian and half Salvadoran, as well as a baseball fan, said Roberto Clemente has always been a hero in the Latino community, not just for playing baseball but for putting the community on the map in the sport.
The Roberto Clemente Foundation’s scholarships are typically awarded to high school students of Hispanic descent who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership and community service.
“This scholarship is a fitting way to honor our commitment to veterans and community,” Luis Clemente, chairperson and cofounder of the Roberto Clemente Foundation, said in the release. “It’s exciting to see my father’s vision and dream go out into the world as we continue to develop the Clemente family tradition of giving and caring. The military was an important part of his life and his pride as a Puerto Rican and an American.”
Miranda was chosen for the award because he exemplified the principles of service, sacrifice and education that both foundations attempt to honor, according to the news release. His community engagement was also a factor, as Miranda actively volunteers locally, playing piano at senior homes, helping with Meals on Wheels and coaching soccer.
“Even for Roberto Clemente Day that just passed [on Sept. 15], my family and I were absolutely delighted to be volunteering with them by making packs to send over to military families,” he said.
Miranda was able to meet the Clemente family in Pittsburgh and formally accepted the scholarship at a gala.
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“The Roberto Clemente Foundation has really reinforced my love for education by showing me how much they care,” Miranda said. “I want to make it clear they have done something no other scholarship has — they made it personal.”