We are pleased to announce the WPNA Scholarship winners for 2016. Mayra Vasquez and Mu Lwe Say have both shown commitment to their communities and their families, giving their time to help others. We introduced them at the May neighborhood association meeting, along with Cheryl Sawyer from the Reagan College and Career Counseling office.
Mayra Vasquez is a true neighborhood student. She moved to the United States from Mexico with her family when she was just 2 years old. She has lived in Windsor Park her whole life, and has attended Blanton, Harris, Pearce, and Reagan. Her goal is to attend Sam Houston University in the fall and major in Mass Communications. She has volunteered at Reagan High School, participating in Student Council and the Just Keep Living club.
Her application essay was quite inspiring, an ode to her father who always emphasized the value of education. She said that at first she felt his feelings about school were “excessive, even overbearing” because she worried that college would be a very different lifestyle for her from her family’s experiences. However, she realized that it would offer her greater success in life, and that inspired her to work with her younger siblings as well. She is now a role model for them, and she has tutored them and brought home college brochures to encourage them to think about their own futures. She states, “When they see me working on my homework, they feel compelled to do the same. Seeing my work and dedication they feel the need to expand their own education. I brighten their horizon of how to overcome the obstacles.”
Mu Lwe Say was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, and she moved to Austin when she was sixteen. She had to quickly learn English, and thanks to the English as a Second Language Program at school she has become confident in speaking English. She gives back to her community by helping translate and interpret for her family and neighbors, who don’t speak much English. One of her references at Reagan stated that Mu Lwe “is a natural leader who makes a positive impact on her peers. [She] attends a refugee support group [where she] not only adds her own insightful comments… but also demonstrates compassion and good listening skills toward her peers.”
Mu Lwe plans to major in pharmaceutical studies, motivated in part from her experiences helping her family and neighbors translate medical documents and insurance benefits. She said she wants to “overcome the fear of doctors and the language barrier. I want to share my knowledge as a pharmacist to help my community be healthier and aware of their medical conditions.” She plans to attend Texas Southern University in the fall.
Congratulations to these two young women! We are so glad we are able to support them as they embark on their educational and professional journeys. Next year we hope to expand our scholarship and offer three or four $1000 scholarships to students who attend Reagan, LBJ or LASA. We will continue to require community service as a key criterion for the scholarship. If you are interested in contributing you can bring cash or check to a neighborhood meeting or contribute online on this website (check the side bar for the “donate” button).