AND SOME FREE–ASSOCIATION
By Kelly Sargent
It was my pleasure to once again serve on the Rotary Club of Des Moines scholarship interview team for East High School for what is, by now, at least seven cycles. Each year RCDM awards six $8000 scholarships, one to each of the Des Moines School District's six high schools: East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt and Scavo. And every year my interview partners — Mark Lyons and Rob Tucker — and I wish we could give scholarships to all four East High finalists.
This year was no exception.
Difficult as it always is, our job is to select a winner, and this year’s East High RCDM scholarship recipient was Ashley Martinez-Torres. Although Ashley has only been in the US four years, and English is her second language, she earned a 3.5 grade point, qualified for membership in National Honor Society and participated in volleyball and theater, all while working part-time at a restaurant and a radio station to help support the family. Ashley plans to major in multi-media communications and photography at Des Moines Area Community College, then transfer to Grandview University to complete her degree, with a goal of a career in broadcasting.
Our second-place finisher was Alicia Rojas, and her story was equally compelling. Alicia lived in Nashville, Arkansas, population 4500, until last year when she made the gutsy decision to move to Des Moines to finish high school. Her goal was to improve her chances of being accepted into college by attending a school with greater educational and resume-building opportunities, in a larger city that could also offer more employment options. Although Alicia was fortunate to be able to move in with her aunt and uncle in Des Moines, her living arrangements also entailed providing childcare for their three under-the-age-of-three children, working part-time at Dunkin' Donuts, while still making sure she earned college-worthy grades at an enormous, unfamiliar school.
Alicia succeeded. She graduated in the top 15% of her class and was awarded a nearly full-ride scholarship to attend Drake University.
Those of you who have met me IRL know that I'm not large in stature. I'm 5' 2" and weigh under 100 pounds. That corresponds to wearing a size 2 or 0 in clothes, depending on the brand. Alicia, however, is even smaller; same height, but tinier.
You've heard the phrase, “What’s less than zero?” In the world of women's clothing, there are not only zeros but there are double 00s and triples. Based on the difficulty I have finding 2s, let alone 0s, I knew Alica was going to have an even harder time. I asked my interview team if they would consider joining me in making a modest personal financial contribution to her future so that I could take her on a shopping excursion for school clothes. They didn't hesitate. The result was two shop-till-you-drop trips and an expanded wardrobe of properly-fitting new clothes for her to wear now and when she heads to college.
The other RCDM Des Moines School District scholarship winners are:
Paul Bridson and Kelly Sargent
We've been helping companies achieve lofty goals for over twenty years now. Here's the benefit of our experience!