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UAlbany Student Helps Mother Fight Crippling Disease, Recognized For Academic Success

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 17, 2014) -- University at Albany junior Maribell Guerrero was one of 11 college students to be recently honored by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) for overcoming personal adversity.

Adversity Scholarship

UAlbany junior Maribell Guerrero (bottom row, second from right) was one of 11 college students to be recently honored by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies for overcoming personal adversity. (Photo courtesy of Ed Satterwhite)

The FPWA annually awards scholarships to college juniors or seniors in the New York metropolitan area. Its network nominated Guerrero for maintaining a strong academic record despite her mother’s battle against severe arthritis. She received $2,000.

A Manhattan native, Guerrero learned of her mother’s diagnosis the summer before starting high school. She took on a care-taking role, cleaning and cooking for the family – including her father who worked as a security guard.

Her mother used a wheelchair, leaving Guerrero to help with transportation to doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. She also monitored the sugar levels of her younger brother – a type I diabetic.

Guerrero continued to attend high school at the New York City Museum School. She studied while her mother napped or during down time in doctors’ office waiting rooms. She used her mother’s fight as motivation, graduating with honors near the top of her class.

“I told her how well I was doing in school. I wanted to make her proud,” Guerrero said. “Graduating as an honors student felt like the greatest thing in the world because I knew that I accomplished my goal of making my mother proud.”

Currently, Guerrero is an economics major and sociology minor at UAlbany. She transferred with her mother’s blessing after one semester at Hunter College.

Guerrero envisions a career that involves helping others; possibly as a financial advisor. She’s part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Capital Region and a first-year student assistant with the University’s Department of Residential Life.

“Transferring to UAlbany was one of the best decisions of my life. I’m learning to succeed academically and growing as an individual,” Guerrero said. “I have pushed forward my entire life and will continue to do so in my remaining two years of college, and in whatever life brings me in the next chapter.”

Comprised of 200 New York social organizations, the FPWA’s nonprofit network serves more than 1.5 million New Yorkers each year. To date, the FPWA has given away more than $500,000 in college scholarships. Learn more about the FPWA network by visiting

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.