America is the land of choice. We pride ourselves with the freedom to make decisions. We act at will and choose what is best for each person or situation.
Every year, the Tualatin Rotary Club has an important decision to make. It is a choice that can dramatically change someone’s life. Each spring, Rotary club members choose a Tualatin High School student as a first-generation American scholarship winner. And every time, the decision is difficult. Only one student can “win” and all the semi-finalists are more than qualified for the honor.
This year, Brisa Abarca-Radilla is the newest Tualatin Rotary Scholar. She has been selected in her junior year of high school and will spend her senior year and her four years of college under the mentorship of a Rotarian. Together they will set a course for her education and seek other financial opportunities. The Rotary award is $4,500 for each year of college and a total award of $18,000.
Brisa will be the first in her family to attend higher education. She is a high school honor student and has volunteered in our community. She was a homework helper at the library. She has carried a full course load and a part time job and values all educational opportunities.
She began boxing classes at age thirteen and continues to enjoy the sport and the physical training it provides. She is curious and driven and her teachers at Tualatin High School recommended her highly for this award. She has a passion for science and plans to become a doctor in obstetrics and gynecology. She would like to enroll at both Portland Community College and Portland State University and can see herself in the medical school at OHSU. Brisa has dreams and she also has the determination to achieve them.
The Tualatin Rotary Club currently has five scholars in college. They will be our community’s future teachers, doctors, counselors and community activists. They are achieving their own dreams with the hopes of changing the lives of others. Once in college, these scholars excel. They apply for internships and research grants. They maintain good grades while working hard to stay connected with their family and community. Financing a college education is burdensome. Hard work and determination are key. Recognition as a scholar is the first step but securing funds is a challenge.
Rotary is proud of their college students but joyous about their graduates. Four scholarship award winners are now college graduates. One student has gone on to achieve a master’s degree. The Rotary Scholars are working in our schools, colleges and pharmacies. Their volunteer mentors from the Rotary Club revel in their successes. The five year mentorship relationship always benefits students and mentors, who watch as eighteen-year-old high school students soar into adulthood and pursue a career.
It is wonderful to give financial assistance to these scholars but it is even better to be welcomed as a part of their dreams and achievements. One Rotary member told the club that she cried at her student’s graduation and that she can see herself at her wedding and holding her student’s future children. A decision to support a scholar can truly bring a lifetime of joy.
What if Rotary did not need to make this decision each year? What if there could be enough goodwill in our community to support every scholar who qualifies for the reward? If you or your business is interested in supporting the education of a first generation college bound student, Rotary would love to talk with you.
The club has a plan in place to select, guide and graduate these students. With additional dollars, more deserving youth would have the opportunity to capture their dreams. You too could influence someone’s life forever.
If you are interested in Rotary or our scholarship program visit our website at www.tualatinrotary.org.