Edgar Rivas Lizama is going places. Since immigrating to the United States from his native El Salvador a few short years ago, the Huntington High School Class of 2019 member has worked exceptionally hard to learn English, assimilate into a new culture and master all the tools needed to excel academically.
Mr. Lizama is this year’s recipient of the Howard H. Munson Memorial Scholarship Award, which honors one of the town’s legendary business figures. The $5,000 Munson scholarship will help defray some of Mr. Lizama’s college expenses as he goes about pursuing a degree in computer science. The scholarship is administered by the Huntington Fire Department.
Huntington Class of 2019 member Edgar Rivas Lizama is the recipient of this year's Howard Munson Scholarship Award.
Mr. Lizama is eager, determined to succeed and willing to work long hours to complete the tasks at hand, just like Mr. Munson was during a business career that spanned a remarkable seven decades.
Inducted into Huntington’s Spanish Honor Society and Social Studies Honor Society chapters, Mr. Lizama will begin studies at Suffolk Community College later this month.
“Edgar’s motivation and resilience have made him the remarkable student he is today,” Huntington Spanish teacher Mercedes Pena said. “He has been able to succeed despite all the barriers that he’s had to face.”
While Mr. Lizama never had an opportunity to meet Mr. Munson and might very well have no idea where his benefactor’s automotive shop was located on New York Avenue in the village, the businessman’s success and splendid generosity will benefit the teenager as he moves into the college ranks and pursues his career goals.
“In Advanced Placement Spanish, Edgar always contributed to the literary discussions with great analyses and critical thinking skills,” Mrs. Pena said. “His essays were based on news articles and research papers, which he used effectively to convince the reader to accept his point of view. The same went for his oral discussions on controversial issues, in which he was able to defend his perspective with authoritative sources.”
Mr. Lizama’s favorite Huntington faculty members were Mrs. Pena, math teacher Amanda Scott, social studies teacher Sarah Buchalter and English teacher Steven Kroll.
The teenager was vice president of the Spanish Honor Society as a junior and co-president as a senior. He wrote articles for The Dispatch, the high school’s student newspaper. He won a Bronze Award in the National Spanish Exam competition. He was chosen to participate in the Angelo del Toro Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute in Albany. A very hardworking young man, Mr. Lizama holds down a job at Huntington Hospital.
Although Mr. Munson admitted that he never really enjoyed school, he knew it was important. So he did what needed to be done, graduating Port Washington High School and affixing his eyes squarely on the future. The scholarship award presented in his honor is made payable to the recipient’s college of choice.
Born June 28, 1908 to Frank and Dora Hill Munson, Howard didn’t like school very much. He liked being around cars and told his dad to forget about the new car he had been promised if he stuck it out and graduated, because he would rather use the money to study engineering at Pratt Institute, which he did, graduating in 1928. After Pratt, he went on to graduate from General Motors Tech.
Mr. Munson opened an auto repair shop in Huntington in 1930 and continued running it until the very day he passed away on October 22, 1999 at 91 years of age. During the almost 70 years he was in the auto repair business he served the local fire department, the rich and famous, the poor who could not pay, the local town folk and those who came from afar.
A telling episode in Mr. Munson’s life illustrated his character and the values he held dear. On a terribly cold and icy night, when there was a very bad fire in Huntington, he worked all night to keep a truck pumping and got it out of the way when the building started to collapse.
Over the years, the business continued to grow, largely due to the fact that he cared about his customers, never once over charged nor cheated them in any way and while he got his hands dirty, he was noted for always wearing a necktie with his uniform and keeping the shop neat, clean and organized.
Just like Mr. Munson, Mr. Lizama’s work ethic is exceptionally impressive. He will do very well in life if he realizes even a small fraction of the success that Mr. Munson did. Though he chose “blue collar” work, Mr. Munson died a wealthy man.
This marks the 19th year the Howard N. Munson Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington senior.