Javier Sarmiento, Jr. is a self-described “proud” Guttman graduate of the Class of 2019. He is an award-winning journalist, writer, social justice advocate, basketball enthusiast, and an honors student of digital media on his way to graduate from Buena Vista University in May. He is also a recipient of a record thirteen scholarships (and counting) he has earned over the last year. In this case, “lucky” thirteen is just a phrase – Javier earned the awards through hard work and determination.
Javier’s LinkedIn profile begets a loud “wow.” In his young career, in addition to all his scholarship awards, the impressive Harlemite has garnered multiple accolades. He serves as the Opinion Editor and Staff Writer in his college student newspaper. He is a member of the National Association for Black Journalists, the National Association for Hispanic Journalists, and the Society for Professional Journalists. Sarmiento won first place in the collegiate sports writing category of the Robert L. Vann Media Awards for his article “The Impact and Influence of LeBron James.”\ Last summer, he was selected to be a part of the NABJ’s Student Multimedia Project and produced two articles pertaining to race in the teaching and book industries. His poem, A voice from Harlem was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Rhyming Poetry category in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. He is currently working on a book detailing his scholarship and career journey.
How does one earn thirteen scholarships in a year? Through tenacity, grit, and discipline. Throughout his scholarship search journey, Javier said he received around sixty rejections. Despite those setbacks, he persevered and will be graduating debt-free. To find multiple scholarship opportunities, Javier scoured the web for resources and tapped into his community and professional organizations. Scholarship databases online can offer a variety of surprising opportunities. Local organizations often offer funds to underrepresented groups. Membership in a career- or interest-centered association also opens doors to applications. He acknowledges the scholarship journey is “not easy,” but would encourage fellow seekers to keep searching and applying, and to stay organized. He boasts of having a thick folder where he keeps all his scholarship files.
As a first-generation college student, Javier said he is driven to succeed to give his “family and community a voice.” His goal is to become a journalist whose work will help put focus on social justice reform and improving the circumstances of people in his hometown of Harlem. Javier is well on his way to achieving his goal through education and dedication to gaining experience. His latest award is the ProPublica Student Conference Stipend. ProPublica is “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” The stipend recipients use the funds to attend a virtual or in-person conference in 2022.
So, what makes Javier a “proud” Guttman grad? He said the support system that Guttman offers to students is what makes it special. He fondly remembers his interactions with the advising team that helped him sketch out his college journey and sings the praises of UMOC, Peer Mentoring, the financial aid staff, and his professors. One piece of advice he offers to Guttman students is to get involved at school. Javier said it is a fantastic way to “make friends and make lifelong connections.” He also advises to apply for scholarships. “You never know,” he said.