As the Graham Center pit filled with Miami Marlins staff, local media, FIU baseball players, FIU cheerleaders and photographers ready to surprise Ana Ribeiro with a first-generation scholarship, the junior unknowingly walked right past it all.
After a quick meeting at the scholarship office, Ribeiro learned she needed to head back to the Graham Center under the pretext that an “interview” would be taking place. There she quickly discovered the real reason for her unusual turnaround: The Miami Marlins and third baseman Martín Prado surprised her with a scholarship.
Ribeiro, a psychology major, is the first Miami Marlins Foundation First Generation Scholar. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, she moved to the United States at the age of three and was raised by her mother and grandmother.
“It was incredibly surprising,” Ribeiro said. “I had no idea what was going on. It just keeps getting better.”
Prado was the first Marlins’ player to contribute to the Miami Marlins First Generation Scholarship Endowment, which will fund a new scholar each year and continue to fund the awardee from the previous year. As Prado shared parts of his own story with Ribeiro and the crowd that had gathered, he revealed that her story spoke to him, particularly because of his Venezuelan heritage.
“It was emotional for me, to be honest. I had never met her before. I had just read her story,” Prado said. “I see myself, just in a different way.”
The scholarship is the first of many that the Miami Marlins Foundation will award through the newly established endowment. Each year, a new player may step forward and contribute to the endowment so that it continues to grow.
“We know how committed our team is, and we hope that other players will get inspired by [Prado’s] commitment and continue to support these efforts in the community,” said Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, executive director of the Miami Marlins Foundation.
Ribeiro’s experience with the organization will not end with the event, either. She will meet Marlins’ players and be treated to a VIP experience as part of FIU Day at Marlins Park on Sept. 22. During the festivities, she will be featured in “Ballpark Wishes” and the FIU Foundation will be presented with a ceremonial check.
“The possibilities are endless,” Ribeiro said. “I can continue my studies and not have to worry that I don’t have enough financially. I’m so thankful for that.”