Natazia Quinones was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her parents, who are both from Cuba, did not have the opportunity to pursue a higher education, but have encouraged Natazia and her older brother to do so. In fact, she says they were the “biggest influencers” in her decision to go to college, and although finances were an obstacle, her parents encouraged her to pursue her education, regardless. She adds that her parents also passed along some important life lessons that made a difference. “They taught me the value of hard work and how I can get far in life, with a fair mind and strong work ethic,” she said.
She worked hard, as they advised her, and it paid off. For one thing, she has earned scholarships, including one from HSF, which have enabled her to attend the University of Florida, where she is studying Business Administration and majoring in Management and General Psychology. She hopes one day to have a career in human resources, data analytics, and/or marketing.
At the University of Florida, she is member of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity she pledged during the fall semester of her freshman year, and she is enthusiastic about the professional development opportunities the organization has provided. In the fall of 2019, she was elected to serve as the chapter’s Director of Career Development, which has allowed her to mentor new Alpha Kappa Psi pledges. And she became a Alpha Kappa Psi International Academy Fellow in April 2019.
One of the scholarships she received is from the Southern Scholarship Foundation, which also provides her rent-free accommodation during the academic year. The organization maintains houses for its scholars, and in return for staying there, they are asked to give back by doing chores, which she explains they do “multiple times a week to take care of the house that takes care of us.” Another way she has given back to the foundation is by serving as an ambassador and student board representative, on which she currently serves as business manager—a position she states she is proud to hold.
In November, Natazia was one of 100 Scholars invited to attend HSF’s Media & Entertainment Summit. The event is an annual conference that exposes HSF Scholars interested in the field to diverse career opportunities and specialized knowledge gleaned from industry insiders. The rising college juniors and seniors who are chosen to attend this program, from a highly competitive pool of current HSF Scholars, spend several days learning about the industry, exploring career options, and meeting and networking with distinguished media and entertainment professionals, including HSF Alumni. Natazia notes that although there are a many online resources available to Scholars, she found the in-person aspect of attending the Summit, and the networking that takes places there, to be unparalleled assets.
“Go for it—apply!” she encourages those considering college, adding that high school students who qualify for free or reduced lunches may be able to get college application fees waived. She firmly believes that with drive and a good work ethic, it is possible to overcome obstacles and succeed. “Think about the future you want to have and how to get there,” she says, “Make a plan and adjust it accordingly to meet your goal!”