National Puerto Rican Day Parade awards college scholarships

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Joe Torres speaks to recipients of this year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade scholarship award.

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade is about cultural pride and celebrating ethnic heritage, but it is also about education.

One-hundred students will be honored during Sunday's parade with a $2,000 college scholarship.

Adrian Pastor was waiting for a bus when he received an email with the good news.

"I'm like, 'Oh my God!' So immediately I jumped from the bench and everybody on the sidewalk is looking like at me like I'm crazy," Pastor said. "And I'm sitting with one of my friends and they're like, 'What happened?' I was like, 'I just got the Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship!'"

RELATED: What to know about this year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC

The 100 winners come from a dozen different states. Puerto Rico had the most winners -- 30.

Adriel Soto is one of those winners. He left the island after Hurricane Maria devastated his family home in Ponce and settled in New York.

"With that scholarship I can buy accessories for the university, computers, bag," Soto said. "It means everything to me. I really appreciate it."

"He's a swimmer and he wants to be an Olympic swimmer, but he also wants to be a medical doctor," National Puerto Rican Day Parade board member Nilda Oyola said. "He has a 4.0 average, left Puerto Rico with a 4.0, maintained a 4.0 and has been accepted to every single college he applied to."

Board members received 400 applications from students in 19 states. Judges examined the entries, read through all the 500-word essays and conducted hundreds of interviews before selecting the young men and women who represent the face, the future and the passion of Puerto Rico.

You can learn more about this year's parade by visiting nprdpinc.org.

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