Meet our 2017 scholars!
We are so proud and humbled to announce our 2017 scholars! Of the almost 700 applications we reviewed, our nine new Esperanza scholars share a pride in their immigrant heritage, a commitment to giving back to their communities and, of course, unbelievable smarts and drive. We are so excited to award a total of $100,000 to these immigrant rock stars hailing from Syria, Cameroon, El Salvador, and all corners of the Earth. As with all our scholars, this group has overcome challenges many of us could not ever imagine, yet they are hopeful that through education they will achieve more for themselves and their families.
At the Esperanza Education Fund we are committed to helping immigrant students take full advantage of the opportunities available to them through higher education regardless of their immigration status, national origin or ethnicity. We could not be more proud of these scholars and welcome them to the Esperanza family. Read their bios below and you’ll be inspired and filled with hope that our country’s future is in good hands.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to sharing more about our scholars throughout the academic year!
Alaaeldin: A Sudanese refugee who spent his childhood in Egypt, where his father was briefly imprisoned, before he moved to the United States four years ago and attended three Virginia high schools in four years. While working twenty hours a week at Chick-Fil-A, he became commander of his JROTC unit, co-founded the African Student Association and volunteered for his high school’s IT department and his mosque. He will study Information Systems at Christopher Newport University.
Maeov: The daughter of Iraqi Kurdish refugees who maintained a 4.4 GPA, was ranked seventh in her class, and became Student Council president, despite her father passing away from brain cancer the summer before her junior year of high school. She is our 2017 Fred Wang Memorial Scholar and she will study Biology at the University of Virginia-Charlottesville with plans to become a pediatrician.
Juanita: A Colombian immigrant, the first in her family to go to college, who founded an after-school mentoring program for young ESL students because she wanted to make sure they were not overlooked as she had been when she first arrived in the United States. She also captained her softball team and is teaching herself to code in her spare time, while working part-time as a barista at Starbucks. She will study computer engineering as a CWIT scholar at University of Maryland-Baltimore County as our 2017 Google Scholar.
Vidalia: A Salvadorean immigrant who came to the United State alone, and while working full-time and occasionally struggling to find housing and food, maintained a 3.99 GPA, became senior class president as well as co-captain of the softball team and valedictorian of her senior class. She will study towards a teaching degree at the University of the District of Columbia.
Luleit: A political asylee from Ethiopia, at 13 helped keep her family afloat by working after school and filling out SNAP, TANF and Section 8 applications. Despite these hardships, she was able to take Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes and founded an Ethiopian-Eritrean Club at her high school. She will study political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, and hopes to become either a diplomat or an immigration lawyer.
Aya: A Syrian refugee who had to flee her home and leave all her belongings behind to avoid a battalion of tanks. She was separated from her parents for two and a half years while living as a refugee in Jordan. In Jordan, she organized a distribution program of feminine sanitary products in refugee camps and interned at an e-commerce company. After arriving in the U.S., she organized a program at her high school to prevent food waste. Having maintained a 3.85 GPA and earning a 700 on her math SAT, she will study bioinformatics at the University of Maryland-Baltimore College.
Fawziyah: An immigrant from Nigeria, who, upon finding out that her high school did not offer any computer science courses, taught herself to code through Girls Who Code, and then founded a computer science club to help teach other students. The salutatorian of her high school class, with a 3.9 GPA, she will study computer science at Prince George’s Community College and hopes to become a professor of computer science. Fawziyah is our 2017 Mike Seltz and Gillie Campbell Scholar.
Gilson: An immigrant from El Salvador who, upon arriving in his Maryland high school, enrolled in its ROTC program, varsity soccer team and drill team, and maintained a 3.8 GPA — while working 20 hours a week in construction. He will study at Prince Georges Community College and hopes to become an ESL teacher. Gilson has been named our 2017 JBG Cares Scholar.
Victoria: An immigrant from Uruguay who aspires to be an elementary school or ESL teacher. She has served as president of National Honor Society for two years, founded the French club in her school, and maintained a 4.02 GPA despite working many hours after school providing childcare at her local YMCA. She will study at William & Mary.