Thanks to the generous investment of donors like you, this year Bellevue LifeSpring awarded 18 deserving students with college scholarships to pursue their higher education. Out of these 18 students, six are first-year scholarship recipients.
While their stories are diverse, all of these students have drive and determination and work hard to rise above their circumstances. We were so inspired by these six students – whose resilience is deserving of recognition and support.
Here are a few of their stories. We look forward to sharing more with you as the school year continues.
Nicole and her family came to Bellevue in 2017 as evacuees after the devastating Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Due to her mother’s health problems, and lack of access to medication and resources after the hurricane, Nicole’s family was forced to leave everything behind and evacuate to Washington.
“With all those obstacles in our way, we overcame,” shared Nicole. “My family started this chapter in our life with a sense of resiliency that I have never seen…this new opportunity gave us hope and a new beginning.”
Nicole is attending Western Washington University with plans to major in Political Science. “I believe in social change. I want to study law in order to help the less advantaged and promote social justice and equity,” said Nicole.
Nicole believes that with financial help, she can make it through college and one day help out her parents in return, “One thing my mother and father taught my sister and me is the importance of family and taking care of those you love.”
Anaya, who will also be attending Western Washington University, plans to major in Sociology. Her dream is to become a social worker so that she is able to help children who grew up in similar circumstances to her own upbringing.
Growing up on the south side of Chicago with her mom and sister, Anaya shared with us the struggles she endured as a child, her time in foster care and what eventually brought her family out west to Washington. “The neighborhood I lived in devoured kids, jail was more common than finishing high school,” Anaya said. “My mother feared what the future held if we stayed.”
Anaya and her family arrived in Washington over 10 years ago without financial support or a place to live. They stayed in shelters, motels and even their car at one point. As soon as she turned 16, she had to work overtime to help provide rent money for her family. This put a lot of emotional stress on Anaya, who shared with us her struggles with depression and anxiety as a teen.
Anaya persevered and is using her experiences to fuel her growth and drive to succeed. “Throughout the years my personal strength has been tested numerous times. Rather than allowing my background to define me, I have decided to use my experiences for motivation,” said Anaya. “I will continue to break through barriers and achieve my goal of being the first person in my family to earn a college degree.”
As a first-generation college student and second-generation immigrant, Erik has already faced many obstacles in his life. Erik shared his biggest obstacle thus far has been making his dream of attending college come true. Navigating the system and finding the right resources has been a struggle. “As a first-generation college student there are resources available for me, but it is hard to find them,” shared Erik. “FAFSA, college applications, housing applications, scholarships and college are a new thing to my family.”
Systems that may be easier for teens whose parents attended college are all new to first-generation college students like Erik. However, he didn’t let this obstacle define him. “I am excited to face the upcoming challenges because I have the determination to graduate from college,” said Erik.
Erik will be attending Washington State University with plans to major in Political Science and eventually become an immigration rights attorney or politician. His passion comes from experiencing firsthand the injustices and hardships that his family lives through because of their immigration status.
Speaking of his parents, Erik shared, “I have seen all the struggles they have gone through. Their struggles have motivated me to advocate for them.” Erik finds inspiration in Cesar Chavez’s quote “Si se puede” which translates to “Yes you can.”