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A college education is costly, and it doesn’t come with an “allowance” for students – especially those with limited resources – to treat themselves to more than necessary academic expenses.

In 2011, Dr. Massoud Eghrari and his wife, Tayebeh, established the Isabella Eghrari Scholarship, to honor Dr. Eghrari’s late wife, Isabella.

Each year, the Eghraris provide $500 “fun money” scholarships for first-year college students enrolled in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs, recognizing the need for students to maintain happiness as they face the challenges of adjusting to college life. The funds give them an opportunity to enhance the enjoyment of life beyond academia.

Students are required to apply for the gift with an essay describing what they would do with the money. The only stipulation is that students must spend the money on themselves, however they wish – not on family members or anything related to school. Dr. and Mrs. Eghrari, together with the charitable foundation committee, then select the recipients.

The 2020 scholarships were awarded to 16 first-year college students during an Isabella Eghrari Scholarship ceremony, which was held via Zoom on Dec. 16.

The scholarship recipients are Cristina Alvarado, Maria Andres-Francisco, Ruth Bellevue, Ruthamar Bellevue, Britney Garcia, Lizbet Garcia, Jadah Guerrero, Selena Jarquin-Venegas, Gisselle Nava, Stephanie Ortiz, William Plata, Thianica Previlus, Alison Quintero, Alondra Salazar, Alex Soriano, and Lukas Soto.

“As an inspiring artist, finding affordable art supplies while also looking for quality is difficult,” Salazar said. “Art has always been a way to express myself and a way to show the world what I see. I genuinely believe that while science and math help the world function, art – along with poetry, literature and music – is what keeps the world functioning.”

Soriano, a freshman at Florida State University, said, “I am very appreciative of Dr. Eghrari’s generosity and am looking forward to using the funds to purchase a guitar. In addition to the opportunity to have fun during my first year of college, this scholarship inspires me to pay it forward in a similar way once I am earning my own income. I believe it is important to help others, and Dr. and Mrs. Eghrari are terrific role models.”

Paulina Magana, postsecondary program coordinator with The Immokalee Foundation, said witnessing the Isabella Eghrari scholarship event is just as rewarding for her as it is for the students.

“Dr. Eghrari is an absolute delight,” she says, adding that he “truly cares about the students beyond his financial support. He leaves them with motivational words to push the students’ potential and never lose sight of their goals.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


Mrs. Tayebeh Eghrari and Dr. Massoud Eghrari award “fun money” scholarships to honor Dr. Eghrari’s late wife, Isabella

Alex Soriano

Ruth Bellevue

Micaela Soto – a 2019 scholarship recipient – used the funds to skydive

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