2022 Scholarship Recipient

Serena Mangual

2022 All-Star Scholarship Recipient

Can you introduce yourself to the UMPS CARE community? Where are you from, where are you going to school, and have you chosen a major?

Hello, my name is Serena Mangual. I’m from Connecticut, where I was born, and I stayed there for many years in my childhood. I moved to Florida in 2015 to live with my grandparents. Now, I am going to the University of Central Florida. I plan on majoring in Health Science because I’m interested in the medical field. I chose Health Science because it gives me a pathway to multiple degrees. I think I want to be a doctor.  

You headed off to college early and just completed a summer semester at UCF. Tell us about that. 

I got an offer to go to UCF in the summer or the fall. I was looking at how difficult the course load would be so I thought it would be smarter to not have such a crowded schedule for the fall and spring.  I took three classes this summer so my first year will run much smoother. I also got to know the campus and some of my professors which was great. My friends, who are also attending UCF, have texted asking me questions because I already know the campus. 


How did you find out about the UMPS CARE All-Star College Scholarship? 

My boyfriend, Jordan, was going through a scholarship forum online and he came across it. He was interested but didn’t fit the criteria, it did, however apply to me. Jordan and I will both be attending UCF this fall.

Can you talk a bit about what this scholarship means to you and your education?

It means so much to me. It just lifted off a huge weight… of the financial part of attending college. I won’t have to work two jobs or overwork myself. I can really focus on my studies which was the original plan. I love school, I have always loved school. I love attending class and learning new things. Because I would like to go beyond a bachelor’s degree, this sets me in a wonderful place to pursue my dream. 

What are some of your interests/passions?

One of my passions is art. I enjoy drawing. I won numerous art awards when I was younger. I enjoy cooking and baking especially now that I am cooking my own meals at college, I didn’t sign up for the meal plan.  

While in school I’d like to join a dance club. I’m also interested in a finance club.

Tell me about your family and your adoption story.

I grew up with my birth mom and birth grandmother in Connecticut. In 2015 my half-brother and I went into foster care because our mom could not take care of us. A little while later I moved to Florida with my half-brother to live with his grandparents, Diane and Donald. It took six months to move to Florida due to foster and adoption laws across state lines. The first years of being split from my mother/birth grandmother were very hard, nothing was secure. In 2019, my mother passed away and a few days later, my half-brother’s father (the only ‘dad’ I have known) also passed away. I was fortunate to have already been living in Florida with the support of my half-brother, Hunter, and my ‘grandparents’ through that challenging time.

Then 2020 happened – all of the court houses were closed so it took until November 2021, a week before my birthday to get adopted. It was really important to my brother and I that we get legally adopted, our grandparents were always my parents. They have always been there for me. My birth grandmother is also still alive and supports me. 

Hunter, my half-brother is 13. He is my best friend. It means a lot that we live only two hours away from school so I plan on visiting him!

How has being adopted shaped your goals for the future?

Since I was young, I was forced into the position to parent my brother and not have the opportunities that a child should have. I was always worrying about my brother and myself. Being adopted allowed me to feel secure. Living with my grandparents enabled me to be a kid again and not have to worry so much.

Is there anything else you want to share with the UMPS CARE community?

I am very grateful that you gave me this opportunity. You will not be wasting it on me. I will be using it to achieve my dreams and I really believe I’m going to succeed.


Hear Serena in her own words in this VIDEO