As an international student studying in the U.S., Jeydri Urbina Rubi is severely limited as to what money she can earn. Consequently, she has learned to pinch every penny, knowing that frugality can help buy a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread or pay for an Uber ride.
So, when the Honduran resident found out last year that she was a partial recipient of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras’ annual monetary gift, she was thankful beyond words. Each year around Thanksgiving, the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida raises money for its sister diocese in Honduras, which then decides how to allocate the funds.
In years past, the Diocese of Honduras has used money for roof repairs and the like. But this year, the diocese decided to allocate some of the funds in a personal manner – much to Rubi’s delight.
“I am so grateful to have the Episcopal Church in my life,” said Rubi, who hails from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. “As an international college student, we have our economic limitations since we cannot work on campus. We do not have Social Security numbers, which limit us from applying to outside jobs.
“Although we have full scholarships, we still have personal expenses such as groceries and traveling expenses,” Rubi said. “For example, I have an unpaid internship at a nonprofit organization right now and I have to pay for my Uber rides/bus passes. Since I’m not getting paid, this comes from my parents’ pockets, and it has not been easy.”
In Rubi’s favor, though, she has traveled to the U.S. before and had an idea of what to expect when deciding to study here. She participated in the 2014 EYE in Philadelphia with the Episcopal Church of Honduras in partnership with the Maryland Diocese, and participated in an exchange program at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Mississippi, where she completed her senior year and lived for six months.
But Rubi, 19, still had her share of adjustments to make at Saint Augustine’s, a historically black college/university founded in 1867 after the Civil War. “Saint Augustine’s University is my new home, and I couldn’t be more happy,” Rubi said. “I’ve learned so much about myself and really appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me.
“At first, it was a cultural shock for me,” Rubi said. “Saint Augustine’s is an HBCU (historically black college/university), and before coming here, I had never heard the term before. Now I know the history of my campus and I am a student ambassador who enjoys giving tours to future Falcons.”
A sophomore majoring in Mass and Media Communications-Strategic Communications, Rubi said the financial assistance has made Thanksgiving this year much more meaningful.
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite American traditions because it reminds us to be thankful for our blessings,” she said. “The Diocese of Central Florida is my new blessing. Although the people in charge of raising money and the ones giving do not know me, they still give, and that blesses my heart. I’ll be grateful every Thanksgiving for my new angels on Earth, the Diocese of Central Florida.”
As for her future, Rubi said she would like to attend graduate school and get a master’s degree, and then give back. “I’d like to give back to my country, to my people, and to my church,” she said. “I want to create an organization with its main goal: to help young Honduran girls with economic limitations to attend school and to help them to achieve their dreams of earning an undergraduate degree, just as I am being helped.”