Hope Succeeds

Taylar Tramil

Many families travel from other countries to create a better life for themselves. Today there are many undocumented students who strive for excellence and put in the hard work. Proving themselves more than deserving of receiving equal education opportunities and equal rights. Although many struggle to survive in a place that they can call home, to some it’s all they know and li to create something of themselves like the rest of society.

Recently, senior Stephani Lopez received a debate scholarship to the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. This scholarship waives the tuition of $24,268 for the four years that she will be attending, excluding room and board. She also received the Bluegrass Spirit Scholarship which aids her with $8,000. Both scholarship were awarded on April 11, 2016.

“I opened the email and immediately called my mom. I started screaming and crying when she answered. I scared my mom; she thought I was hurt, but I could not calm down,” said Lopez.

For many undocumented students, the possibilities of going to a college of your choice is very slim, and receiving a scholarship where tuition is paid for. Leaving them with a dividing decision between either going to community college and transferring to a university, or to go straight into the workforce.

“I honestly thought I was going to have to go to community college and transfer after a year. It was something that I was dreading because I wanted to go to a four year institution. Being undocumented has knocked down several scholarship opportunities for me, so it is safe to say that I might not have gotten what I wanted, a four year university. When I got the scholarship I was relieved, I get to have that dream, I get to continue my education. Sometimes it feels surreal, but then I opened my laptop with all the housing applications and the UK tabs open and I remember that yes, I did make it,” said Lopez.

For many minority families, students are first generation students, those who go to college for the first time in their family, who go through the college application blindly, without the right guidance or the lack of knowledge. Luckily, there are counselors at Phoenix who help out with the college process. For Lopez, she found herself in the same situation, going into the process blindly as well as worrying if she would get into any of the schools she applied to. From the beginning, Lopez had the support from her parents, and, always had a reassurance.

“My parents feel insanely proud of me. They feel bitter sweet because I am going to be moving 6 hours away, but they are happy I am going to be able to continue my college education,” said Lopez.

Overall she chose the school based on their profound liberal arts program and its size. Because debate has become a huge part of her high school career, that passion transferred to her studies. It was her experiences through the debate team that she actually became more aware of the university.

“When I went to debate camp, two of my class instructors are debate members at the UK.They really helped me alot during camp, and they made the team really seem like a family. Debating has been a huge part of my high school career, but I would not have continued if I went to any other university because the teams are so disconnected,” said Lopez.

UK is ranked 23rd in the country for its political science program, which is what Lopez is focusing on studying, while concentrating on international relations. She would also like to minor in Spanish, and is also considering History and Math due to the college credit she received through her AP classes. She also plans on being part of the debate team, due to the scholarship that she was awarded and becoming part of the Anime Club.

For someone who loves to learn new things to satisfy her natural curiosity, it is a reassurance that she is able to tend to her passions. It takes someone truly dedicated and spiritually special to continue their education.

“My dad always says “Patras ni para agarrar vuelo” which translates to, “you cannot step back, not even to catch flight” and that is what I want to share with everyone. This might sound redundant, but you cannot give up. Giving up closes all of your options. I have constantly received scholarship notifications that say I did not receive it. Yes, give yourself a time period to grief over it, but let it consume you. Giving up is a huge step back and if you want to succeed you have to get over it and keep pushing through. Pull through!,” said Lopez