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Luis Zambrano with his father Alberto Zambrano. (Courtesy Luis Zambrano)

Scholarship winner keeps promise to dad

By Cinthya Aguilar/ALMA Intern

Luis Zambrano is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an intern at Arizona Capitol Times, where he is reporting on political issues. He will be graduating in the spring and is the 2021 winner of ALMA's student scholarship. Zambrano is a DACA recipient, first generation, and a transfer student who is pursuing journalism to share important stories and issues that affect the Latino community, particularly those related to immigration. 


Zambrano was born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix. He was one year old when his family immigrated to the United States. His father, Alberto Zambrano, has been one of the primary supporters in his life and has pushed him to get a higher education. Zambrano's upcoming graduation means the achievement of both his and his father's hard work. Throughout his school life, Zambrano said there have been several barriers that he and his family had to face, but as a family, they have overcome. Being the oldest brother and first generation has not been easy, since college life was something new to him, but a promise that he made kept him going. 


"I promised my dad that I would get him that degree," Zambrano said. "Eventually, that kind of kicked in my inspiration and turned from like a promise to something I wanted."   


Since an early age, Zambrano has been interested in news, which is one of the many reasons why he decided to pursue journalism. He recalls going to construction sites when he was younger with his father, who would listen to different types of radio stations, something that, according to him, has allowed him to have a broad spectrum of news. "My dad would listen a lot of times to Rush Limbaugh and Carlos Galindo, like two people on the very opposite spectrum on immigration issues," he said.   


Throughout his student life, Zambrano has spent time doing community service, including working for an undocumented student-led organization called Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE) at Arizona State University. During his time at USEE, he helped raise money for undocumented individuals and establish a scholarship; he later applied and received that same scholarship.


Zambrano's spring graduation means a promise kept to his father. Seeing his father and mother, Julia Martínez, work hard throughout the years has been the primary motivation in working to obtain his degree. He is the oldest brother in the family and believes that it is essential for him to succeed and be an example for his four siblings. 


After graduation, Zambrano said he would like to do political reporting, freelance work and hopes to have the opportunity to move to another state. 


The ALMA scholarship is recognition of Zambrano’s dedication to achieving his goal. He adds that he is grateful for the opportunity that ALMA has given him to keep doing what he loves. He remembers being excited when he received the call because all his hard work has been recognized.  


"As a first-generation student, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart,” Zambrano tells the ALMA organization. “And know that what I do next will be because of you."

Do you know a college student who could use scholarship help? ALMA's fall scholarship will be open for applications in April 2021.

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