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Zayra Valencia earns

Zayra Valencia earns"Realizing the Dream" scholarship


In contrast to her petite 4' 8" stature, Zayra Valencia's sizeable intrinsic qualities more than make up the impressive person that she is.  With a huge heart, enormous drive, gigantic spirit, immense goals, and massive will to succeed, Zayra knows what she desires in life and continues to take colossal steps to make her dreams become reality.


So, it is with great pleasure that Holy Cross College announces Zayra Valencia as the institution's 2013 "Realizing a Dream" Outstanding First Generation Student

To be eligible for the award, students must show outstanding work ethic and determination, and must be from a family whose parents have not completed college degrees.  A scholarship recipient is chosen by each of the 32 independent college campuses in Indiana.  Additionally,  award nominees are asked to nominate a mentor teacher who helped inspire them toward the dream of excelling in college.


A sophomore at Holy Cross College where she is double majoring in business and psychology, as well as a member of the Lady Saints soccer team, the South Bend native attended John Adams High School.  It was there that she became passionate about volunteering, community service, and serving others.  Zayra and her family moved to the United States from Mexico when she was just six years old, looking for work...a better life...the "American Dream".  So, it is no surprise that Valencia is accustomed to setting goals, striving through adversity, and working  hard to achieve them. 


During her last two years at John Adams, friends began discussing college, where they were applying, and what they were going to study.  Having no plans in place at the time, Zayra then began contemplating her future and the need to further her education.  Although her parents were very supportive of Zayra's schooling, neither of them had the opportunity to graduate from high school, needing instead, to sacrifice their education in order to help with family living costs. Thus, as the parents of a soon-to-be high school graduate, the Valencias were not familiar with requirements, expectations, or expenses related to college. 


Needing direction, advice, and sometimes simply an ear to listen, Zayra turned to John Adams High School counselor, bi-lingual coordinator, and track coach, Mr. Savino Riveria, for guidance.  Zayra stated, "Mr. Rivera served as the parental guide I needed throughout the college process," as he assisted with applying to colleges, scholarship applications, SAT testing, and financial aid.  Zayra firmly believes that she would not have made it through the process without the firm, yet approachable support of Mr. Riveria, and for this, she is eternally grateful. 


Commenting on Valencia's nomination, Brian Howard, Dean of Academic Support Services at Holy Cross College, said, "Zayra has worked very hard to become an outstanding student since arriving at Holy Cross College.  She maintains a strong GPA as a  double major in Business and Psychology, while also being a member of the Women's Soccer Team and volunteering at LaCasa de Amistad and the Logan Center."


Recipients are being celebrated for their achievement on Saturday evening, November 9, at the 24th annual "Realizing the Dream" banquet.


Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, the event recognizes first-generation students attending ICI campuses, along with their inspirational teachers and families.  The event is being held at the Hilton Indianapolis North, with a reception and an awards dinner.  Each honored student will receive a $2,000 check to help with college costs, and each student's chosen "most influential" teacher will receive $1,000. 


Attending the banquet in addition to the students, parents, and teachers will be special guests, presidents of the colleges, and the campus coordinators of the "Realizing the Dream" program.


One out of every three students on ICI campuses is a first-generation one.  Generous financial aid provided by the campuses themselves, combined with state and federal grants, makes a private college education a possibility for all students in Indiana. 


In acknowledging the award Valencia said, "The sacrifice and hard work that both my parents and I have made is definitely paying off.  I am honored and very grateful to have been awarded the Realizing the Dream scholarship.  Because of scholarships like this, and with the help of Holy Cross (College), I am able to pursue a higher education and become a trail blazer for my younger siblings."   


To learn more about Holy Cross College visit the website at www.hcc-nd.edu.