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Boro-based supermarket group gives pupils $85K

The National Supermarket Association awarded $85,000 in scholarships last Thursday to more than 80 inner-city students from the five boroughs and New Jersey during its annual banquet at Flushing's Terrace on the Park.

The association, headquartered at a site on the Whitestone Expressway in Flushing, gave $1,000 each to the students, who applied for the scholarships by sending in transcripts, letters of recommendation and an essay on how a college education would benefit them.

The students lined up by last name in alphabetical order in the front of the banquet hall to have their pictures taken after receiving their scholarship money.

Francisco Jorge, the association's outgoing president, who owns Freeport's Compare Supermarket, urged the recipients to earn a college degree.

"Don't drop out at any time," he told them. "I know most of you work outside school to support your families, many of whom cannot afford to send you to college. But don't let anyone discourage you. I urge you to continue your education."

The students, including many who had emigrated from Latin America or whose parents were immigrants, said the scholarships would greatly assist their quest for higher education.

"It's a big help for students," said Brooklyn's Eva Jorge, 22, who attends Kingsborough Community College. "I'm glad I took part in [the program]. Education takes you places."

Queens Village's Catalina Delahoz, 19, a Queens College student, said her essay for the contest focused on how she would use her education to change negative perceptions of immigrants.

"I wrote that if I go to college, I'll beat the stereotype of immigrants who come to this country and do not get an education," she said.

Kevin, 13, and Miguel Abinader, 15, who grew up in Flushing but now live in New Jersey, said the award holds a special meaning for them.

"Our father passed away recently," Miguel said. "So we are getting the scholarship in his honor."

The NSA scholarship program, which began 16 years ago, has awarded more than $1 million to minority students in the tri-state area. The association was formed in 1989 by a group of independent supermarket owners who operate in the New York metropolitan area.

"They have a commitment to our communities and our future by investing in our youth," City Councilman Miguel Martinez (D-Manhattan) said. "They're saving a dollar for tomorrow, for the next generation."

The association also inducted its incoming president, William Rodriguez.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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