Community Impact

The Inspiration Behind One PSA

Each year, Comcast donates tens of millions of dollars of airtime for public service announcements (PSAs), typically 30-second television spots promoting a nonprofit cause or organization. Many are part of a larger campaign or advertising effort; some are simply labors of love. Below is the story of one PSA and the inspired employee behind it.

Most 18-year-olds don’t have business cards, but Nina De La Rosa was no ordinary 18-year-old. When she met Comcast Community Investment Manager Mary Spillane in 2012, the high school senior from the Denver suburb of Aurora handed her a card that said: "Future Speech Therapist." She shared with Mary her desire to help people like many of her friends’ parents, who struggled with English. She said she also wanted to become a foster parent and open her home to children who didn’t have one.

Mary recognized that Nina was a remarkable young woman, in addition to an exceptional student. That year, she was among 50 Colorado high school seniors, and 1,800 students nationwide, to receive a $1,000 Comcast Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship – some of the nearly $20 million in tuition assistance that the Comcast Foundation has provided to almost 20,000 students across the country since 2001.

In addition, Nina was also a finalist for the Comcast Founders Scholarship – a $10,000 award given to two Denver Leaders and Achievers® winners to use at the college of their choice. It was Mary’s job to select the winners. When she met Nina, something clicked.

"It’s always a tough decision, because the students are amazing," Mary said. "But Nina stood out right away." 

Nina celebrates her scholarship award with Superintendent of Aurora Public Schools John Barry (far left) and her family (mother Joyce and twin brother Joey, right) at the 2012 Colorado Leaders and Achievers® ceremony.

A few months later, Nina and the other 2012 Comcast Founders Scholar, Daniel Besmer, were honored at a ceremony at the Colorado State Capitol. There, Mary met Nina’s mother Joyce, who had raised Nina and her twin brother, Joey, on her own. They had faced tough times as a family, but Joyce was determined to see her twins succeed, and she stressed the importance of education from an early age.

When Nina and Joey were both accepted to the University of Colorado at Boulder, Joyce was incredibly proud – but also concerned about how she would pay for two tuitions at once. When Nina received the scholarship from Comcast, it was a huge relief.

A year later, Joyce called Mary to fill her in on Nina’s freshman year. She had enrolled in the Speech Language and Hearing Sciences Program, where she was earning straight A’s and on track to graduate a year early. With Joyce’s phone call, Mary was reminded of how much the scholarship meant to Nina’s family. She wished she could share Joyce’s words with other parents and students and encourage them to apply.

It was then that Mary got to work on a public service announcement about the Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship program. Featuring Joyce, Nina and Joey, the PSA was filmed during the twins’ summer break. "I remember the day Nina found out she had won the scholarship from Comcast," Joyce said in the PSA. "It was so exciting, and I was so relieved."

Mary’s PSA started running in September 2013, just as the window for Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship applications opened.

"The best part of the day was when Nina told me about her first year at college," Mary recalled. "She had worked so hard to get where she was, and she wanted to share her success with people who believed in her."

Watch Mary’s Leaders and Achievers® PSA.

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