This an English translation of the article originally published by Univision on June 18th.
These young individuals who belong to an academic support and leadership program of Hispanic Alliance, have faced different social and legal obstacles throughout their lives, but they have graduated in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and secured their path to college.
Hispanic Alliance is celebrating the achievements of the students enrolled in its Student DREAMers Alliance program, which develops leadership skills in high school students. This year, in addition to the social and legal obstacles that these students normally face, they faced the challenge of remote education as a result of the coronavirus and not only managed to graduate, but also got accepted into college.
Celeste Alcantar, a member of the program, had the highest grades at Carolina High School, which is located in South Carolina. This young woman, who was a member of the National Honor Society and the Environmental Club, will study Engineering at Clemson University. She won scholarships from the GCS Foundation, the Association for American-Hispanic Women, and Clemson’s Palmetto Fellows.
“My biggest struggles were overcoming an inferiority complex, fear of failure, and imposter syndrome. What I’m most proud of at this moment is that, because of my hard work, I am able to go to college without being any kind of burden — a financial burden or a stress — to my family. I just want to give back to my family because they’ve done so much for me, I want to be strong like they all are, and help them live long, happy stable lives,” said Alcantar.
Another promising young woman from the Student DREAMers Alliance is Maria Ventura-Morales, who is one of the graduates from Berea High School, also located in South Carolina. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Martial and Concert Band, and is still deciding whether to attend the University of South Carolina Upstate or the College of Charleston.
“I am proud of the academic achievements I accomplished while also juggling a job, and other extracurricular activities. I had a lot of things to stress about like scholarships, tests, homework, and other life situations. It was hard to put time into planning for college or even find what was right for me,” recalled the young woman, who is grateful to her teachers and family for having helped in accomplishing part of her goals.
A Way to Inspire
Another example of leadership and improvement is Esmeralda Hernandez-Martinez, a student at Carolina High School, who will attend Queens University of Charlotte. In addition to her achievement in completing high school, she is happy to have been accepted into her dream college.
“My legal status did not stop me. I made my parents very proud. I am living a dream, and I am finally a role model for my brother. I will encourage and support him to reach his goals,” said the young woman, who would also like to inspire others who are in similar situations to achieve their goals.
Hugo Cortés Alonso is another member of the Student DREAMers Alliance who finished high school with honors. The Berea High School student, who is the first in his family to graduate from high school, will now be part of Spartanburg Methodist College.
“I have been able to help my community and will continue to support it. Now I will be able to share my knowledge and experience with others, especially when it comes to the college application process. I am highly motivated and I want to motivate others,” he says.
Other students from the Student DREAMers Alliance who also stand out for their achievements are: Ashley Navarro López, who will attend Greenville Technical College; Vanessa Chávez, who will be a student at Furman University; Elisabeth Hernández Aguilar, who will attend USC Upstate; Leyla Castillo-Magana, who was accepted at Greenville Technical College; and Stephanie Zapata-Ramírez, who will attend Spartanburg Methodist College.