Latino Film Festival for Scholarship Fund

“Neruda,” a biographical drama about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, will be shown as part of a Latino film festival at Southampton High School on Friday, March 16.

Aspiramos, a recently formed nonprofit entity, will host its first Latino film festival on Friday, March 16, at Southampton High School, with screenings of “Mi Gran Noche,” a comedy about Latino traditions of New Year’s Eve, at 6:30 p.m. and “Neruda,” a biographical drama about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, at 8:30. Tickets are available at the door for $10.

The event marks the first fund-raising effort for Aspiramos, which was formed in the fall of last year. The name translates to “we aspire,” and its goal is to provide financial scholarships to Latino students graduating from Southampton who have expressed a desire to attend vocational school or college.

The idea for the organization germinated after Barbara Fair of Southampton became aware through Diane Guida, a teacher at the school, of the thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded each year to Southampton’s graduating seniors, of which almost none were going to Latino students.

“The imbalance struck me,” Ms. Fair said, “and I asked for a meeting with Southampton School administration and faculty to explore the reasons.”

What she discovered was that Latino students were simply not applying for scholarships, as their higher education aspirations are often thwarted by cultural expectations or financial constraints. With the school’s backing, Ms. Fair and Ms. Guida co-founded a Latino scholarship committee in order to identify the issues affecting Latino students and find ways to help them reach their academic potential. Subsequently, about 20 school administrators, faculty members, and community members have joined the committee, Ms. Fair said.

“Aspiramos is the title the committee chose for the nonprofit we are in the process of creating for the scholarship program,” she said. 

One of those committee members is Isabel Sepulveda de Scanlon. The Latino community liaison for the Southampton School District, she has been instrumental in putting together the film festival. “As a Latino community member, I feel it is my duty to represent my community the best way I can — opening doors,” she said.

For Latino students at Southampton High School looking to apply for an Aspiramos scholarship, the committee will take into consideration academic achievement, attendance records, participation in extracurricular activities, leadership qualities, financial need, and teachers’ recommendations, among other factors.

The high school is at 141 Narrow Lane. The $10 tickets are valid for both movies and can be purchased in advance by calling 631-591-4611.