Meet our 2019 Scholars!

If you’re looking for inspiration during this season look no further than the 2019 Scholars.  From an aspiring pilot to a working EMT to a filmmaker in the making, our 2019 scholars are all seeking to change the world in ways big and small. Read more about them here.

Thanks to the generous support of our major financial donors like Donald Graham, Mike Seltz and Gillie Campbell, Google-DC, Esperanza Alumni, Peter Skiff,  JBG SMITH, Alice Wang and Andy Felton, Tom Olson, and Claire Alexander we awarded nearly $100,000 to 12 scholars in 2019 and reached  $1 million in total scholarships for immigrant scholars since Esperanza was founded 11 years ago.

Donors like you make that possible.  Below the short bios of the 2019 Scholars.

Dieudonne is a young refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who lost both his parents before the age of 5. He and his 3 siblings were raised by his grandmother and uncle, who were forced to flee to a refugee camp. He arrived in the United States at age 13, was designated an unaccompanied refugee minor, and lived in 4 foster homes in 5 years (read more about his journey in the Washington Post)   He will be attending Arizona State University and plans to become a pilot.

Nhu, a young woman from Vietnam and an aspiring physician—made her mark in school as the founder of two different clubs.  Nhu maintained a 4.0 GPA and interned at the Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Lab (U.S. Department of Agriculture), where she plans to continue interning while studying Biological Sciences: Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Oscar is an aspiring filmmaker from Mexico who has made several short films, co-founded a Latin rock band, joined a competitive dance troupe, and performed in his school musical, all while maintaining over a 4.0 GPA.  He will take the first step toward his career by getting a general studies degree at Montgomery College.

Yetunde is a Nigerian immigrant who, shortly after moving to the United States, started a writing a club at her local library and has contributed poetry yearly to the club’s anthology. She plans to double major in Mathematics and Economics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Muhammad, an aspiring doctor from Pakistan, has been studying to become an EMT.  On his first shift in an ambulance, he realized that the cardiac arrest victim he was dispatched to was his best friend. He became interested in medicine after his father was shot at work. He plans on studying Neuroscience at George Mason University in hopes of becoming a Neurosurgeon one day.

Safa is a young woman who arrived in this country two years ago from Afghanistan.  English is her fifth language, which she speaks it fluently after just 6 months of study before departing her native country.  She and her classmates organized a protest in support of an Afghan girl who had been beaten to death. Safa received the Good Citizen Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.  She will study Neuroscience and Pre-Med at George Mason University.

Kejsi is an immigrant from Albania, who is passionate about advocating for women and girls.She revitalized the Girls Evolving, Mentoring and Supporting Club (GEMS) at her high school, working with her classmates to serve the community, while also discussing and combating struggles women and young girls face on a daily basis.  She volunteered at the Woman, Infants and Children, Breastfeeding clinic, working with low-income families in her community. She plans on studying nursing at the University of Virginia.

Rodrigo is a young honors student from Peru who has been taking 7 honors or dual-enrollment classes in high school while working 25 to 30 hours a week and participating in the Link Crew, which helps freshmen adjust to high school.  He will study Biology at George Mason and plans to become a Veterinarian.

Anubhav is a young immigrant from Nepal with near-perfect grades and SAT scores, who spent four years of high school volunteering with LIFT (Learning through Inquiry Fellowship and Tutoring).  In the summer of 2018, he completed a neuroscience internship, studying Rett Syndrome, at Georgetown University.  Guaranteed admission to its medical school, he will study biology/pre-med at Virginia Commonwealth University.  

Jerzel, a recent immigrant from Guatemala who, although he immigrated with no English skills, graduated from ESOL within two years and is now learning Arabic.  In Guatemala, he worked at a Mayan Village cooperative that protected indigenous rights.  Jerzel plans to attend Montgomery College for dental hygiene and eventually become an orthodontist.

Valeria is the daughter of Bolivian immigrant parents, the first in her family to attend college, a valedictorian of her high school class, and captain of the swim team. She has been a member of National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society. Valeria also works part-time as a lifeguard and plans on pursuing a degree in Industrial engineering at Virginia Tech.

Nallely is an IB student from El Salvador who has coached young girls in running and, was her Junior Class President.  Committed to helping those who have suffered abuse, Nallely is an aspiring social worker, lawyer and foster parent. She will begin her studies at Northern Virginia Community College and then transfer to George Mason University .