A Gates Millennium Scholar who graduated with a 4.13 GPA. Attends an Ivy League university where she studies chemical engineering.
What gets her up in the morning? “Taking advantage of the opportunities my parents never had.” Biggest obstacle? “Beating the stereotype. I grew up in a neighborhood where gang violence and drugs are no joke. I have seen friends go down the wrong track from pregnancy to death.
As a minority, people don’t expect me to be successful. I’m a girl, I’m Hispanic, I’m low-income, underrepresented, and I’m a first generation college student. When I tell people about my accomplishments, they stare at me in awe, because it’s not expected.”
Her biggest obstacle: “My siblings, mother and I were abused. We ran away, were dead broke and struggled to make it through each day.”
Cynthia now attends City College while working full-time. She studies child development, so she can help other abused children.
Advice for peers: “I struggled, but reached out to every possible resource for help. You come from a tough background? So break the cycle. Become your own role model.”
She comes from a hard-working and loving Latina family. She graduated high school with A’s and B’s, became Athlete of the Year, and received a full scholarship to college with hopes of becoming a teacher.
A week before Christmas during a routine traffic stop, Maria’s mother was arrested and imprisoned due to lack of citizenship. As the oldest daughter in her family, Maria has had to shoulder the responsibility of running a household and caring for her younger siblings.
What keeps Maria going? “Knowing that I have to maintain good grades to go to college so I can get a higher paying job.” Applying to over 20 scholarships, she was “encouraged to have someone believe in me during times when I didn’t believe in myself.”
She is all about “shredding” (her word) stereotypes. She says “I struggled in math and science. Although I was not the only one to struggle, I was usually the only one encouraged to drop.
But I proved teachers wrong with hours of studying, asking for help, and ultimately, earning a decent grade in their class. It was then that I gained their admiration, and they recognized my intelligence and potential.”
As first in her family to attend college, she is fiercely committed to “beating the stereotype within my culture that Mexican women should be domestic, rather than academic. I believe this leads Mexican teenage girls to not have the drive to go after their dreams.”
A high school senior at the top of his class who never stops smiling. Four years of AP courses and honor roll with dreams of becoming a biochemist.
Biggest challenge: “when I learned last year that I’m not a U.S. citizen. I was crushed to realize that I can’t attend my dream college because I won’t get the same financial aid as my friends. I felt like I worked so hard for nothing.”
Advice for peers: “when you’re poor, you wanna give up because it’s too hard. Ask for help. There are people who care about you succeeding. They will give you hope.”
A high school junior who came to us broken and in tears. Her parents have been patiently awaiting visas in Mexico for over 10 years. Susana and her sister, both U.S. citizens, live with their parents in Mexico, where the family survives on less than $60/week.
Every morning, Susana wakes up at 4 am to stand in line for 2 hours at the border followed by an hour-long bus ride so she can attend school in San Diego and eventually achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.
Susana is the ultimate embodiment of hard work and resilience.