Carlos Cordero-Salazar is a very hard worker, who has managed to successfully juggle numerous responsibilities while maintaining high standards across the board for himself. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2017, the teenager is headed to Farmingdale State College to study mechanical engineering.
Mr. Cordero-Salazar was smiling as he was presented with the $5,000 Howard N. Munson Scholarship Award by Huntington High School college counselor Bernadette Walsh on behalf of the Huntington Fire Department, which maintains the endowed fund.
The teenager was announced as this year’s scholarship recipient at the senior academic awards ceremony held on June 7 in the high school auditorium.
While Mr. Cordero-Salazar was never privileged to meet Mr. Munson, who passed away nearly 20 years ago and probably has no idea where his benefactor’s automotive shop was located on New York Avenue in Huntington village, the businessman’s success and unparalleled generosity will benefit the teenager as he moves on to college and pursues his career goals.
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 keeping his eyes fixed 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,” according to the Huntington Fire Department’s Neil Getter, who has presented the scholarship award in past years, but was unable to attend this month’s ceremony. “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,” Mr. Getter said
A telling episode in Mr. Munson’s life illustrated his character and the values he held dear. “On one 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,” Mr. Getter said.
“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,” Mr. Getter said.
Just like Mr. Munson, Mr. Cordero-Salazar’s work ethic is second to none. “Throughout his high school career, Carlos has managed many family obligations,” Ms. Walsh said. “He works every weekend at a restaurant as a food runner. He is a faith filled young man as well. As a member of his youth group, he teaches Sunday school classes and even volunteers at the annual summer camp. Moving from Guatemala when he was just seven years old, Carlos was forced to learn a new language and assimilate to a new culture. Thus, he understands the hard work it takes to be successful. This bilingual young man will bring an incredible work ethic to college.
Mr. Cordero-Salazar will do well if he can realize even a fraction of the success that Mr. Munson did. “Though he chose blue collar work, he died a wealthy man,” Mr. Getter said.
This marks the 17th year the Howard N. Munson Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington senior.