THE Bronx (PIX11) — A Bronx Latina is now the head of one of the largest nonprofit organizations, by women for women.

Through education and fundraising, she helps other Latinas obtain scholarships and finish college. Catherine Garcia grew up in the Bronx. She was a teen mom who said she refused to become a statistic. She went to Hostos Community College and is now a health care executive, giving back to her community.

Catherine Garcia said when she found out she was pregnant at the age of 17 years old.  She was terrified. Her dreams of a career in healthcare would be out of reach. 

Going to college at night, taking out loans to pay for her classes. Now, decades later, Garcia is a health care powerhouse, the administrative director of the Bronx health care system.

She is in charge of their department of ob-gyn, giving back to other young moms. She’s also the newly appointed president of the 100 Hispanic Women organization—her group is giving 28 scholarships to Latinas in need this year. 

One of the scholarship recipients is 19-year-old Jayde Ithier from the Bronx. Ithier is a communications major at Lehman College. She said the scholarship is going to help her afford tuition for one more year. 

No one understands the need more than Cindy Batista Thomas. She applied for a scholarship in 2014. She got it, a moment that changed her life. She was able to afford a new laptop. Thomas got her Ph.D., the second Latina to get her Ph.D. in her large Dominican family. And is now the director of scholarship programs at the non-profit. The same program that helped her. 

In 1995, the organization was created in someone’s living room. Now, 100 Hispanic Women have helped connect Latina leaders from Westchester to New York City to New Jersey. Their primary mission, give hundreds of scholarships to help young women pursue their college dreams.

Garcia made a promise to herself to pay it forward. Now a mother of four, she’s paying it forward and is incredibly proud of her Puerto Rican Heritage. 

It’s women helping women, making the community stronger, one scholarship at a time.