2016 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
REEDLEY HIGH SCHOOL
YASMIN AVILA OREGON's family came to California with hopes of building a better life. "It was very difficult for my family because we have struggled financially most of the time, since it wasn’t always so easy for my parents to find work. The barriers in my life made me stronger and taught me to learn how to stand up for myself, appreciate my life, and be someone who is honest and responsible; but also yearn for my success in life. My career goal is to attend a four year university, receive my Bachelor’s degree as a registered nurse and then enter the workforce. Later on I plan to return to college and earn my Master’s degree as a midwife nurse.” Yasmin will attend California State University, Fresno in the fall.
MARIANA BEDIA was born in Mexico and came to this country at a young age. Both her parents are farmworkers. She said, “A farmworker works any day, either in extreme hot sunny days or freezing windy days just to earn some money. My parents serve as my biggest motivation and I thank them for my success. My dad tells me, ‘Mariana, I’m going to do all I can to help you reach your goals because I don’t want you to end up like me and your mother working hard every day to only receive unjust pay.’ I have learned that all you need to accomplish your goals are perseverance and dedication. Nothing is impossible if you have the will to try. I will never forget the values my parents input in my life.” Mariana will enroll at California State University, Fresno and major in nursing.
CINDY CISNEROS' parents have sacrificed much by working in the fields so she and her brothers can get an education. "The role that I play in my family is a role model when it comes to education. I have a ten year old brother and three cousins who look up to me. This is a difficult situation because failure is not an option. They tell me, ‘When I grow up I want to be exactly like you, Cindy.’ This statement gives me the encouragement to keep going strong; those kids are waiting for me to complete this chapter. I know that in helping myself, I will also help them. Obtaining a scholarship would be a great help to pay for my classes and materials. My parents and I would gladly appreciate the help from our hearts.” Cindy will enroll at Reedley College in the fall.
ARACELI DURAN-JIMENEZ grew up in a farmworker family. "I remember how my dad looked when he got home from work. My strongest memory is how he always took of his boots and sat outside for awhile. I would go and sit on his lap and ask him how his day was and his answer was always the same, ‘Bien y tu’, fine and you. As I got older I wanted to work with him to help. However, I knew that the best way for me to help was by getting an education. When I graduate from college and earn my degree I will dedicate my diploma to my father.” Araceli’s father passed away in April of 2015 after a long painful process from the West Nile Virus. Araceli will attend Reedley College and then transfer to a university to pursue teaching.
MARIA ITZEL GORDILLO, like her other family members, was born in Michoacan and comes from a farmworking family of seven. “My siblings and I have also worked in the fields with my dad. I was 15 when I first worked in the fields as a cherry picker. My dad wanted us to see how hard the labor could be. This experience made me appreciate my father and mother more because this is what they go through every day of their lives just so that we can have a better future. I thank God I come from a hardworking and humble family. I have high expectations of my myself just like my parents have for me, and I will not let myself or my parents down . . .” Maria will attend California State University, Fresno and pursue a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Liberal Arts and a teaching credential.
PAOLA HERNANDEZ "Both my parents are immigrants who came to the United States in search of opportunities and success. Both my parents have worked in the fields for as long as I can remember. Growing up was not only an economic challenge, but also an academic one. I will be the first in my family to go to college and I plan to get my Master’s in nursing so that I can become a nurse practitioner. I want to have a meaningful role in society by making a difference in people’s lives and being a part of people’s most difficult and happy times. I am passionate about joining the nursing profession because nursing is a vital component of the health and well-being of people all over the world." In the fall Paola will attend California State University, Fresno.
DIANA MEZA grew up with parents who are agricultural workers. "They are always busy and hardly have time to spend with us. While my parents work, I help take care of my little sisters on weekends; sometimes it can get a little difficult to deal with. Their work doesn’t pay much and it’s hard to provide for four children. I have been involved in athletics ever since I was small. Kinesiology studies is about human movement so it will allow me to pursue a career working with athletes. I plan to become a physical therapist. As a cross country runner, I have learned valuable lessons. Running has taught me to push past my limits to achieve something that I thought was impossible. When I run there are sometimes doubts, insecurities, and fears that try to get the best of me, but I overcome them. I see running as being a metaphor for life; you get out what you put in it."
ANGELINA RAMOS’ parents work in farm labor to support their family of six, and Angelina does her part to help out the family by cooking, babysitting, and doing other chores around the house. She wakes up early, regularly works out, volunteers at her neighborhood church, and works with her mother packing almonds. “It teaches me responsibility, leadership skills, and prepares me for perhaps having my own family in the future. My goal is to major in Criminology and become a detective. I plan to get credentials in this field and help my community when they’re in trouble or hurt.” Angelina also wants to support her family financially. She will attend Reedley College in the fall and then transfer to a four year college.
JULISSA RANGEL "Growing up in a farm working family, I learned that it is vitally important to work hard because the best opportunities are not given to those who sit around and wait. I have also learned that we all play a very important role no matter if we’re doctors, teachers, secretaries, or farmworkers because in the end we all help to contribute to something bigger. My personal goal is to become someone who will make other people’s lives better, have a lasting impact, and provide them with encouragement. By receiving a teaching credential I will motivate children daily by letting them know that there are many people who believe in them.” Julissa is pursuing a degree in social work at California State University, San Jose.
STEPHANIE RUBIO VELASQUEZ encountered difficult times when her family was separated before the family joined her father in the United States. Every time her father went down to Mexico she spent as much time as possible with him. At age six, Stephanie begin her transition to a new culture and language in the United States. She added, “In my 8th grade year I was awarded the Patriot Award. For me, that is one achievement I treasure.” In college Stephanie plans to study medicine because her family has battled leukemia. She stated, “Even though I may not be the person to cure cancer, my (dream) is to one day help others.” Stephanie will be attending California State University, Fresno in the fall.
SERGIO SALDANA "Throughout my life I have had many obstacles that made me the person I am today. One of the hardest obstacles of my life so far is poverty because I was born in Mexico where poverty is extreme, to the extent of having no money for food. In terms of academics, I want to graduate from high school with honors and obtain a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from California State University, Fresno. I am a hard-working student because of the examples my parents taught me. I plan to buy my parents a house in order to thank them for all their work and sacrifices.
JOSE I. SANCHEZ "Growing up in a two-bedroom apartment with five other family members is tough on anyone. It is even more difficult when the two supporters of the house are farm laborers; it adds more responsibility to life. During the harvest season my parents work seven days a week and have to leave us children home alone. I have gone to work with my parents on my vacations or during the weekends; that type of work is very difficult. My academic studies mean a lot to me. I need to be the first in my family not only to graduate from high school, but also to go to college. Where I’m from, I’m not supposed to go to college because more than half of my relatives are gang members and they all dropped out of high school. My parents’ determination and dedication has inspired me to go beyond high school and better my education.” In spite of all his adversities, Jose is on the varsity football team, earned a 3.64 GPA, and ranks 31 in his class. He will attend San Diego Community College and major in Business.
FRICEYDO VENTURA is the eldest in his family of one brother and 2 sisters. "I will be the first in my family to attend college. I am motivated to succeed in school because my parents did not have the opportunity to get an education. I appreciate the sacrifice my parents have made working in the fields. I am more than proud to call them my parents. One thing my dad has taught me is to never give up on something. I will attend Reedley College, study business and culinary arts, and then transfer to The Culinary Institute of America. I see myself in the future working with big companies and starting my restaurant."
KEVIN VALLADARES "Growing up with my mom who is a farmworker has given me a lot of benefits. I learned how hard it was for my mom to get money. I have seen her work because I have worked weekends and summers with her in the fields. She had no other choice but to work because my father died when I was only two months old. It seems that during the harvest season I rarely get to see my mom because she is up and out to work very early before I even get up to go to school. Summers for me included field work during the day and football practice in the evening. I do not regret being the son of a farmworker; I could not have been as tough of a person today without that. The Central Valley’s agriculture has not only cultivated fruit for the world but it has also cultivated the man I am today and the successful man I will be tomorrow." Kevin was captain of the football, basketball, and track teams. He will attend Pacific University in Oregon where he will play football and major in Engineering.
ANGELITA ZAMORA "I look at my childhood and realize that my experience was rough, but one grows from tough situations. I have a total of seven brothers and sisters. When my little sister was born my parents still worked long hours so I basically had to take care of her. Since a very young age I knew that I wanted to succeed and be different. The pressure for me to go to college is enormous since I will be the first in my family to do so. I hope to one day become a school counselor and get a teaching credential. I want to help teenagers get through high school even when presented with tough obstacles. Most importantly, I want to do it for my parents and be the person that they can say was worth all their blood, sweat, and tears." Angelita will attend California State University, Fresno and major in Liberal Arts.
MARTHA ZAMORA "Like every other farmworker family, we’ve had our struggles because of our financial status. After my parents got injured due to a car accident, it was hard for us because we hardly had any money to put food on the table. My siblings and I were too young to even know how to help. My dad has not been the same since. Now my mom is the only one that works and I will be the first to go to college. My personal goal is to become an orthodontic assistant and start working right away." Martha wants to work to help out her family. First she will attend Reedley College in the fall.
MADERA HIGH SCHOOL
ALEJANDRA AGUILAR-HERNANDEZ is clear on her goal to attend CSU, Fresno and major in Business. She would like to be an entrepreneur and one day start her own business. “My parents could not attend school due to financial difficulties and worked in the fields to help their families. As a child, my father took my sister and me to toil in the fields so that we could understand hard work and the importance of education. My sister, a former JGFS scholarship recipient, was the first in our family to attend college. In high school I am involved in various school activities, such as the M.A.Y.A and Art clubs. These opportunities keep me busy and prepare me for college. The reason why I would like to reach higher education is to provide for my parents just like they did for me.”
SILVESTRE ARZATE has wanted to study Criminology in order to become a correctional officer ever since he was a boy. “I am a hard worker in both school and sports. I have been involved in football and track and field for four years where I received two patches for being a Madera Scholastic Athlete. I plan on being the third one in our family to go to college. My parents do not have a high school education. They were both born in Mexico and couldn’t afford to pay for school. When they came to California, they began working in the fields to support me and my two siblings. Today, my parents continue to work hard in the fields to give us a better life. We will forever be grateful for our parents’ sacrifices in order for us to have a better life than they did.”
ABIGAIL CELESTE BAZANTE-REYES’ parents are from a little village called Santa Catarina in Oaxaca, Mexico. “My parents came to this country when my mom was pregnant with my oldest brother because they wanted to give us the opportunity to have a better life than what they had. My dad cannot work anymore because in his late 20’s he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his brain. For sixteen years, my mom was responsible for supporting the family financially. I now live with my mom and one brother, Florencio, who struggles with autism. My dad lives with two of my brothers who take care of him. My dad is largely part of the inspiration of why I want to pursue the medical field. I have my mind and heart set to never quit. I realize that I will not be done with school until I am at least thirty, but I am determined to finish school no matter what it will take.” Abigail wants to become a neurosurgeon. She dreams of graduating from Harvard Medical School and pursuing a doctorate in Biology.
IVAN CHAVEZ-VALVERDE considers himself extremely fortunate to have a life infused with experiences that have shown him the meaning of being a leader and a hard worker. “I am the head coach of a boys’ soccer team in Madera and have spent many weekends with my family working in agriculture. As a family, we picked grapes and tied vines to make raisins. I am not forced to go to work but with the income my parents make, I feel it is a necessity. As a young adult, I see the struggles my parents endure and it gives me motivation to strive for a better life.” Ivan wants to become a California Highway Patrol officer. He has already taken classes in Criminology at Madera Community College and has interned at Madera Corrections Department.
JOSE DE LA CRUZ AVALOS and his family came from Mexico seeking the American dream. “Although my life has not consisted of gifts or luxuries, I do have a stable life, family, and basic needs. My parents taught me from an early age to work hard and be responsible so I could accomplish my goals and aspirations. For this reason, I have put the utmost effort into school to enhance the opportunities available to me. I have had the opportunity to help others through my involvement with the Junior Volunteer Program at Madera Community Hospital and Kid’s Day.” Jose plans to attend CSU, Fresno to receive a Bachelor’s degree and eventually go to medical school to pursue a medical degree.
GLORIA L. GONZALEZ has been a solid A/B student at Madera High School. “When I was pregnant, I kept up with school work and never got behind on any of my classes. The person who inspires me most is my mother. She was a teacher and I admire the patience that my mother has to teach people. I would like to teach elementary school because I love kids. I remember when I taught catechism in the church of my community with a group of six to eight year olds. I fell in love with those children and they loved me back. I want to save enough money in order to attend college and make my dreams come true. I know I have the will to continue my education.” Gloria plans to attend CSU, Fresno to earn a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
LAURA LUPIAN Before coming to Madera High School, Laura felt like an outsider. “I was motivated intellectually but I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. Upon entering however, I became part of the Link Crew, which helps freshmen through their first year of high school. This experience of helping freshman has been rewarding. I plan to major in psychology and ultimately to complete medical school and obtain a degree in Psychiatry. My goals for the future involve being an advocate, a constant learner, and most importantly, a source of aid and resource for people with mental illnesses and disorders. Due to my family’s low income, I would appreciate any financial help as it would make it easier for me to concentrate on my studies.”
ARACELI MARTINEZ “Growing up, I was always encouraged to do my best in school. I was told that it is the only way to avoid living a hard life. I strongly agree with this. As the youngest of six children, I was practically raised by my older siblings because my parents were always busy working. My dad has worked as a field worker all his life and my mom spent most of her working years as a field worker also. Although they struggle to pay their bills, I am their American Dream. I firmly believe that by continuing my education after high school, I can make something better for myself and make sure that my parents’ efforts were not in vain.” Araceli’s plans are to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma and attend Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. She plans to study technology and major in non-destructive testing.
ELVIN MARTINEZ “The mistakes I have made in life have shaped me into the Elvin Martinez I am today. I was able to leave my mistakes behind with the help of all my mentors who took an interest in my story, when most did not. My goal is to become a Special Education teacher. What was once considered a threat to my future has now been transformed into my biggest inspiration in life motivating me to do what I love and that is working with special needs children. Coming from a family of nine with low income makes it really difficult to even consider enhancing my education by attending college. Although the odds are against me, I will not let it stand between me and my goals. Martin Luther King once stated, “Judge me not by the color of my skin, but of the content of my character.” This passage from Dr. King will continue to inspire me, for my character has improved along with my lifestyle, making me a better me.
OLGA RAMOS MARTINEZ “Because of my heritage, many individuals expected me to drop out of school and end up raising children. I felt like I wasn’t meant to become someone who would end up going to college. It wasn’t until I helped my parents work in the fields that I knew I had to attend college and better my life. My family has always been supportive of my goals and I have continued to help them by cleaning and cooking for our family of eight. Even though I had to grow up much faster than most kids, I appreciate it because it has made me a responsible person.” Olga plans to earn her Associates Degree, then transfer to CSU, Fresno to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
GRISELDA SANCHEZ-MARTINEZ “Coming from a field working family, working in the fields is an exhausting and difficult job; I worked once during my winter break to see what it felt like. I realized that working these jobs is not something I want to do in my future - not just because it is hard, but also because there is never sufficient money for living, as my family and I have experienced. My parents are from Oaxaca, Mexico and knowing the type of life my parents have lived, it has motivated me to pursue higher education. They have also taught me that if things do not come out the way one has planned, it is not an excuse to abandon hope; actually, it is an opportunity to try something else and make it better. I am enrolled in the ROP Nursing Career class to become a Certified Nurse Assistant.” Griselda is also a volunteer at Madera Rehabilitation Center. She plans to attend Madera Community College and transfer to CSU, Stanislaus for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
EVELYN ORTIZ "As a child I remember sitting on top of a tree outside my house thinking about the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. My dream of becoming part of the medical field as a nurse has not been an easy process. At a very young age, I took on bigger responsibilities at home to help my family. I babysat my younger siblings so that my parents could work in the fields and support us financially. In elementary school, I struggled with speech and had difficulty speaking in both English and Spanish. To this day, I’ve had a difficult time in English but that hasn’t stopped me from pursuing my dream of becoming a nurse. I am part of the Madera Center College Advantage Program, and the ROP nursing program. My plan is to become a nurse and give back to my parents everything they have done for me."
ALEXIS RAYMUNDO BAUTISTA’s parents faced many obstacles coming to the United States, one being the language barrier. His parents are from Oaxaca and speak Triqui, a native dialect from the area. “My parents have worked agricultural fields of the Central Valley for a very long time. Due to our financial needs, I started working in the fields at the age of twelve with my parents to help with our expenses. My family has faced many obstacles in life but we learned to appreciate what little we had and made the best of it. My parents taught us that with hard work and dedication we could achieve our dreams.” Alexis’ career goal is to become a Civil engineer. He plans to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after earning his Bachelor’s at CSU, Fresno.
YOLANDA VASQUEZ VASQUEZ and her family have lived in a small community for ten years. “We came to the United States with hopes for a better future. I am the youngest of five children and the first one not only to graduate from high school but also to go to college. I have received numerous awards for outstanding grades and attendance. My parents have worked very hard for me, and they motivate me to work hard in school and to make sure their sacrifices are not worthless. Due to the drought in California, my family’s struggle with finding jobs in the summer has increased. As a result, they have had to look for jobs in other states such as Oregon and Washington. During the summer, I work with my parents to help them financially.” Yolanda plan’s to attend Madera Community College and then transfer to a university. Her goal is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and continue her education in order to get her Master’s.
IRIS VILLALVA “My mother works hard in the fields to provide for our family. For a family who doesn’t have much, I can honestly say we’re happy. I am forever grateful for what I am given, even if it is not a lot. My goal in life right now would be to pursue a career in education and become a really great teacher. Taking care of my younger siblings and helping them do their homework made me think I can help other kids as well. I plan on attending Fresno State with a major in Education. I will be the first person in my family to go to college because my older brother plans on going to the military. I am motivated and driven to get to where I want to be because I work hard and I want to become something better in life, not just for myself but also for my family. Once I achieve my goal, I will be able to help out my family and my community.”