By Rob Tucker
It was my pleasure to once again serve on the Rotary Club of Des Moines scholarship interview team for East High School. Every 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 — Kelly Sargent and Mark Lyons — 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 U.S. 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.
Because our second-place finisher, Alicia Rojas', story was compelling, our interview team decided to make a modest personal contribution to her college future. Alicia lived in Nashville, Arkansas, population 4500, until last year when she made the gutsy decision to move to Des Moines alone 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.
Kelly, the distaff member of our scholarship team, is small in size, but Alicia is — so Kelly tells me, even smaller. Ya’ know that jokey phrase, “What’s less than zero?” Who knew that in the world of women's clothing, there are actually sizes that are less than zero?! Apparently not only are 3, 2 and 1 adult human clothing sizes, but there are 0’s, and . . . wait for it . . . double 00’s. Guy clothes are much easier!
Based on Kelly’s experience, she knows that finding clothes in those sizes is a challenge, so she asked if Mark and I might be willing to throw in a little money along with some of hers in order to take Alicia on a little shopping excursion for college clothes. They made two shop-till-you-drop trips and had lots of girly fun along the way.
The other RCDM Des Moines School District scholarship winners are:
Hoover High School — Jose Luis Rodgriquez Campos's goal is to become a construction engineer.
Lincoln High School — Joslyn Cardenas-Flores plans to attend medical school to become a surgeon.
North High School — Jasmine Inthabounh will be attending Drake University where she'll study journalism and business.
Roosevelt High School — Emma Hildebrandt graduated with a 4.0 and will pursue a nursing degree at Luther College.
Scavo High School — Maleah Hall plans to study nursing at DMACC and Grandview University.
Congratulation to all of you. Your futures look bright.
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