Scholarship Spotlight: Mercedes Merrill-Pequeño
Mercedes Merrill-Pequeño, a Freedom Alliance Scholarship recipient from Auburn, Maine, is a freshman at the University of Tampa seeking a criminology degree.
Mercedes’ father, Staff Sergeant Jose Pequeño, was hired as Police Chief of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire in 2002. A former U.S. Marine, he signed up with the New Hampshire National Guard and then volunteered to deploy to Iraq in May of 2005.
On March 1, 2006 Mercedes’ father was severely injured in Iraq. While on an observation post with his team, a grenade was thrown into his Humvee with exploding parts going under his helmet and into his brain. He suffered a devastating and traumatic brain injury and nearly died. The injury left him completely paralyzed, rendering him 100% permanently disabled.
While accompanying her father on his numerous hospital visits during the last six years, Mercedes would help nurses deliver food to other injured patients. During those days she thought she would pursue a nursing degree to help others like her father, but once in college she realized that she wanted to pursue a degree in criminology to follow her father’s career path as a police officer. When Mercedes told her father she was going to switch to a criminology career he cried with joy.
Despite the circumstances that have stricken her father and her family, Mercedes understands and supports her father’s reasons for serving in the military and subsequently going to Iraq. Not only was he fighting for our freedom, but he was protecting this nation in the best way he could.
Freedom Alliance supports hundreds of students like Mercedes. We are now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 academic year.back