Firebird Alumni Receives Golden Apple Scholarship

Genesis Vasquez

Many people immigrate to America in search of a “better life” and face many difficulties, especially when applying to colleges. The college process can seem very overwhelming because immigrant students cannot qualify for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid known as FAFSA. Phoenix alumni Francisco Peralta faced this challenge when he was a senior. Now a graduate of Harold Washington College, Peralta received the Golden Apple Scholarship that is awarded to people that aspire to become teachers and helps pay for a student’s college.

Although Peralta is not a U.S. Citizen and cannot receive money from FAFSA, he was one of the approximately 90 students that won the Golden Apple Scholarship. Peralta found out about the scholarship his freshman year of high school through his English teacher Mr. Curtis because he was nominated and won the award himself.

Even though Peralta is grateful for receiving the scholarship, he was nervous because if he did not advance to the last round, he was not eligible to apply again. Because of Peralta’s undocumented status, he has not let that become a barrier for his success.

“Other than not qualifying for FAFSA or state scholarships, as well as certain scholarships, it has made me have to work for my education,” said Peralta.

After studying at HWC for three years, and now a graduate, Peralta said that he felt that his hard work at PMA was not enough because he felt he could have done more to go to a different college.

“At first I didn’t like the idea. I felt like all my hard work in high school was for nothing. However, while at HWC, I was fortunate to meet supportive faculty and classmates that have made the last three years fly by. I would not trade the experience for anything, and I look forward to graduating,” said Peralta.

Peralta thanks many of his teachers from PMA such as Mr. Waller and Mrs. Raygoza, and teachers outside of the school because they are the ones who inspired him to become a teacher. He also recognizes  the inspiration that he got from the book Freedom Writers.

Now that Peralta will be transferring into Concordia University Chicago, he is excited to start a new chapter in his life.

“College is possible, and although the road may be more challenging, it can be overcomes,” said Peralta.

For more information about Golden Apple visit their website here: