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12 students have earned an opportunity that will launch them into the next level of their academic and professional careers.
Juarez-Lincoln High School has 12 recipients of The Dream.US National Scholarship in their Class of 2020, which will cover most if not all of their university education.
The Dream.US National Scholarship is for first-time college students, and awards $29,000 over the course of four years for a bachelor’s degree. All of these seniors will be attending the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, a partner school of The Dream.US Scholarship, and will be pursuing various degrees in nursing, teaching and engineering.
The national scholarship is designated for students impacted by the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. Lori Cantu, the Go Center College Transition Specialist at Juarez-Lincoln High School, has seen the 12 graduates triumph over the years.
“All of them are in the top ten percent of their class,” Cantu said. “They’re pushers and they’re doers.”
The Dream.US Scholarship recipients will also be designated a Scholar Adviser who will support the students with their college experience individually and as a group.
Taking this next step of higher education will allow our students to be able to identify their passions, grow as an individual and set their future up for economic mobility.
The students began working on the applications for the scholarship in October of last year – Cantu said the process was more lengthy than they initially realized.
“It does ask them various questions from their rank to their ACT scores, weighted and unweighted GPA and what classes they took their senior year,” Cantu said. “In their essay, they asked applicants to write about something that happened to them in the course of their education that they have had to struggle with, or a challenge they have dealt with.”
Cantu said the graduates answered very personally, describing difficult situations such as their struggles entering the United States, living in single-parent households or with people they don’t know just to survive. She spoke on their strength in surpassing obstacles through their education.
“Some of them wanted to be able to participate in extracurricular activities but they couldn’t, because they had to be at home taking care of their siblings and help their mom out,” Cantu said. “There were just a variety of stories, and they were just all really touching – and I think that’s one of the main things they look at in the scholarship program.”
In order for these students to attend college, they had to apply to TASFA [Texas Application for State Financial Aid] because they don’t have a social security number and therefore cannot apply for FAFSA [Federal Application For Student Aid].
“These are monies that Texas has set aside to be able to offer these students the chance to go to college,” Cantu said. “But even just doing the application, a lot of the time even parents are hesitant, because it asks a lot of personal questions that they’re afraid to answer.”
Cantu explained that TASFA only covers tuition, not other fees like books, computer fees and student recreation fees, so these students would have had to pay all the extras out of pocket, which many cannot afford.
“This means they don’t have to depend on TASFA,” Cantu said. “This will pay their tuition, it will pay their fees, it will give them money back for their books, they will have their hour years paid for.”
The Dream.US National Scholarship opens the doors for them to succeed in the future, according to Cantu.
“They don’t have to worry about the next year,” Cantu said. “Now, it’s basically covered.”
Juarez-Lincoln graduates are ready and able to go further than they expected, according to Cantu.
“It shows their perseverance, it shows their determination, their want and their drive for success,” Cantu said. “Nothing is going to hold them back, they’re going to continue and be great citizens for our community, and come back and hopefully give back.”
Cantu was proud to see these 12 move on to the next chapter, noting that their entire department is filled with joy in being able to help these graduates take on their new roles as university students.
“We have shed so many tears,” Cantu said. “It’s an emotional time for all of our students, and it’s hard working from home – it feels like no matter what we go through, they’re going to be okay and they’re going to come out on top.”
“That’s why we’re here – we’re here for them,” Cantu added. “Even through these times, even through a computer or over text, we still have that connection. It’s just wonderful that we’re able to see that and help with that foundation. Having this [scholarship] is paving the way for the rest of their life.”