Sulma Campos is an exceptionally hard working young woman so it is especially fitting that the Huntington High School senior captured the Howard Munson Scholarship Award, which is presented in memory of a remarkably dedicated local businessman who served his customers for an incredible 70 years.
Ms. Campos is headed to St. Joseph’s College to study biology. She immigrated to the United States from El Salvador three years ago and immediately went to work, putting in long hours studying in order to master all of her courses.
The $5,000 Munson scholarship will help defray some of Ms. Campos’ college expenses as she goes about pursuing a degree in biology and ultimately a career as a physician. The scholarship is administered by the Huntington Fire Department.
“I couldn’t believe that I was picked for the scholarship,” Ms. Campos said. “I was coming from work and I heard my name. It was just unbelievable. Then. I just felt so proud of myself. I remembered the day that I left El Salvador, leaving everything behind to come here and fulfill my dreams. I felt so proud and I just couldn’t wait to tell my mom and dad because they’re my inspiration.”
The senior has compiled an impressive academic grade average and challenged herself with Advanced Placement courses. Ms. Campos has volunteered at Huntington Hospital. She learned the English language within a year coming to America. She reads as much as possible to advance her command of English and to increase her knowledge as well as for her overall enjoyment.
“I want to be a doctor; it’s been my biggest dream since I was a little girl,” Ms. Campos said. “I would like to go into surgery or become a pediatrician.”
A member of the Spanish Honor Society and the United Amigos club, the senior has been a mentor to students new to the United States, assisting them with conversational English skills and helping them adjust to the high school. Ms. Campos was honored by the Town of Huntington with a Hispanic Heritage Award.
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 fixing his eyes squarely on the future. The scholarship 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 overcharged or otherwise 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, Ms. Campos’ work ethic is impressive. She will do very well in life if she realizes even a fraction of the success that Mr. Munson did. Though he chose “blue collar” work, Mr. Munson died a wealthy man.
This marks the 20th year the Howard N. Munson Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington senior