November 25, 2013 | Chicago, IL
Six students, the most in Erie history, from the TEAM (Tutoring to Educate for Aims and Motivation) mentoring program have been selected as finalists to receive the prestigious Posse Foundation scholarship. TEAM provides these students with a safe place to learn and gain leadership skills and helps them on their path to college. Since 1989, the Posse Foundation has identified, recruited and trained public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to become Posse Scholars, unburdening them from financial stresses that might deter them from achieving academic success.
These tremendous Erie students were selected from 15,000 applicants across the country with the hope of being one of the 645 scholars to attend one of the 48 Posse institutions. These students were recognized for their hard work and dedication to bettering themselves, their families, and their community. The Posse Foundation scholarship could possibly grant these six deserving students with the chance not many students have, a full ride to higher education.
Erie is extremely excited and thankful for the opportunities these students are given, with a chance to better themselves, their families, and their communities.
Posse Foundation scholarship finalist: Alan Meza
Alan, who currently attends Noble Street College Prep, has been a part of TEAM since he was in 8th grade. With dreams set in Engineering, Alan has worked hard to show his potential in his academics and dedication to sports, mainly soccer. His success shines through in all that he does, and this led Maria Munoz, TEAM coordinator, to nominate him for the Posse scholarship. Becoming a Posse scholar would allow Alan to earn a higher education degree without the financial burden that most students are faced with every day. With hopes set on the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alan would like to be involved in many school organizations, focusing on harnessing his talents and growing as a leader.
Posse Foundation scholarship finalist: Melanie Folgar
Melanie, involved with Erie since she was 6, became a part of the TEAM program after hearing about it from a friend. Her constant drive for academic success led Maria Munoz, TEAM coordinator, to nominate Melanie for the Posse scholarship. Not only will attending Trinity College in Connecticut reward Melanie for her hard work, she will be the first in her family to go to college. Winning the Posse scholarship will help Melanie accomplish her dreams of earning a degree in psychology while keeping the financial burden off of her single-parent household. When asked what she planned to do if given the chance to be a Posse scholar, Melanie responded that she would love a chance to enrich herself and the lives of others through volunteering, various extracurricular activities, and sports.
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. Melanie shares her personal story:
Being an immigrant, moving a lot as a child and dealing with my fathers death has left me with high hopes to go to college in order to support my family and work to eliminate injustice for others. I believe in being straight to the point and speaking truthfully about what makes my life unique. This is my life and my story. A true story about a girl who has a dream.
My story started when I was born in Guatemala. At the age of 5, I moved to the United States. I was very scared of America because it was such a different environment for me. Plus, due to my father’s job, we moved around a lot. I lived in Maryland until the sixth grade when we then moved to Chicago, Illinois. Here, I had to start all over yet again and I found myself getting bullied. In reality, I just didn’t know how to defend myself in the big city. But, that’s when I remembered my dad’s words “el que nada debe, nada teme,” which means that “he who owes nothing, fears nothing.” I was able to build up my courage and become a stronger person that doesn’t get defeated so quickly without a fight.
This is just one small example of how my dad helped shape the person I am today. My father is one of the most important people in my life. He passed away two years ago from stomach cancer. He was the main person, my main friend that helped formulate me into a delicate but powerful butterfly. My father was my backbone that always kept me up straight and kept me moving forward.
After the greatest support in my life disappeared, I was left with the greatest task. My family had to become much more united than before to survive this cruel world. I had always had plenty of food to eat, but even that became a struggle. My father was our only source of income, so now it was my mother’s turn to find a quick job before we starved. She began working as a house cleaner but that meant my little siblings would need someone to look after them. I took on that role.
I also tried to be as supportive as I could towards my mom because she now had to deal with the large burden of endless bills. The death, the work , the bills and the children all became such a struggle for my mom that she became depressed. She stopped taking care of herself just to provide all the necessary things for us. I would see her every night cry and ask God “why.”
I couldn’t let my mom go on like that forever nor could I let my siblings feel as though we were tight on money. With the help of all the guidance my dad had given me through the years, I took charge of this family and helped out as much as I could with the cleaning, cooking, and making sure my brother or sister got the help they needed with their homework. I tried to encourage my mom and assure her that everything was going to get better.
To this day, there is not a single moment that I don’t think about how my dad has greatly impacted my life providing a strong foundation from which I gain more knowledge. I’m not just another student trying to write a unique personal statement. I want to make a difference in the world and provide to others advice based on what I have lived through. I want to be the person that people can count on to listen to them, to encourage them, and to be the support they need. I am the girl who has a dream, a dream to one day be free from poverty, from injustice, and have the chance to change the norms and help all those whose lives are much harsher than mine.