Introducing the 2012 Esperanza Scholars!

After reviewing more than 250 applications and interviewing 25 finalists, we’re thrilled to announce this year’s ten Esperanza Scholars. Thanks to the generous support of the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, our Board of Advisors, and contributors like you, our ten Esperanza Scholars will receive a total of $120,000 in college scholarships, which includes well over $10,000 raised through our matching gift drive. Thank you to everyone who participated — and special thanks to Tom Olson, Bruce Berman, Sergio Oehninger and Brian Greene for sponsoring the match. Your generosity allowed us to award larger scholarships than ever before, enabling us to cover the vast majority of each scholar’s unmet need.

Here are their stories:

  • An Ecuadorian immigrant who earned straight A’s in an advanced curriculum while working 20 hours a week as a self-taught web designer and serving as president of three student organizations, including one he founded to promote higher education among Latino students. He will study civil engineering at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
  • Chinese immigrant who worked three jobs, maintained a 4.02 GPA, passed ten AP exams, scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT, and served as president of two school clubs while she and her single mother struggled with homelessness. This Fred Wang Memorial Scholar plans to study math or economics at the University of Virginia.
  • A recent immigrant from Honduras who gave up working 50 hours a week as a busboy to take night classes so that he could complete high school on time and pursue a college education. As a youth board member of the Northern Virginia Gang Prevention Task Force, this Marquez Family Scholarorganized soccer tournaments for at-risk teens. He plans to study history at Northern Virginia Community College.
  • A recent refugee from Ethiopia who earned straight A’s in an advanced curriculum and served as president of seven school clubs while taking care of her younger siblings. She plans to study physics or biology at Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to the University of Southern California.
  • A young woman who grew up in a family of twelve in a rural village in El Salvador, did not start school until age nine, immigrated to the United States on her own to pursue further education, and worked cleaning houses for several years before attending an alternative high school while working 25 hours a week. The first in her family to complete high school, this Alfonse A. Russo Scholar aspires to become a doctor after studying biology at Northern Virginia Community College.
  • An immigrant from the Dominican Republic who speaks four languages, plays on three varsity sports teams, and was elected captain of two of those teams. Raised by a single mother who struggled to support the family as a housekeeper, she aspires to become a social worker after attending George Mason University.
  • A young man who immigrated from China seven years ago after his family was persecuted for running an underground church. An accomplished musician, artist, and AP scholar, he has won state and national competitions ranging from painting to science. This SMI Scholar intends to study business or international relations at the University of Virginia.
  • Bolivian immigrant who earned an International Baccalaureate diploma, founded and ran his high school show choir, played percussion in the school band, and worked 30 hours a week at a restaurant while struggling with domestic violence. An avid reader and writer, he aspires to become a journalist after studying at George Mason University.
  • Mexican immigrant who maintained a 3.5 GPA, played on the softball team at her D.C. public high school, and was described by her teachers as a “success story” and “model student.” An avid environmentalist, she plans to study biology at Northern Virginia Community College.
  • A young woman who grew up amid political violence in Colombia and came to the United States three years ago to join her mother, only to lose her mother to cancer a year later. Inspired by her mother’s work as a labor organizer, she plans to study political science at the University of Maryland and pursue a career in international human rights.