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Finding Amazing: My Experience Judging Applications for the Esperanza Education Fund

I just read the most amazing thing. Fifty of them actually. I had the privilege to judge applications for the The Esperanza Education Fund. They provide college scholarships for immigrants in low-income households who have overcome incredible odds to thrive academically and socially in their community. Each evening last week I read stories of teenagers having to play major roles in raising their siblings, experiencing harrowing escapes from brutal homelands and caring for their parents as the only person in the home able to speak English. Despite these odds and oftentimes reaching this country not speaking a word of English, they excelled academically in AP and IB classes, led clubs and teams at school and volunteered and worked in their communities. Every application I read was from a student who was determined to succeed in high school so they could attend college – either a two- or four-year school – in order to realize the American dream for which their parents had sacrificed everything for them to be able to achieve. The only distressful part of this process is knowing there is only enough funding to help some of these kids realize their dream of being able to afford a college education. I could write an entire series of posts on the lessons many of us could learn from reading the stories of these remarkable young men and women. However, I am not the type of person to preach. So I will conclude by simply saying that every day is a good day to take stock and be grateful for those people and things you have in your life. Thank you to Jennifer Aguirre, Zoe Ziliak Michel and Bryan Mejia for leading this impactful program and providing me with the opportunity to participate.


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