Every year, the Hispanic Business Professionals Association of Spokane presents youth with scholarships. That in and of itself is not unusual. But the HBPA goes further than most groups in honoring students. The HBPA and Spokane Community College actually welcome every local high school and college graduate of Hispanic heritage onto a stage. The auditorium full of people then applauds each graduate one by one. In addition, they honor the future graduates, current students, sitting with their families in the auditorium.
Every year, I’m moved by the sight of a community that knows how to celebrate and honor its youth.
This year, I had the honor of reading biographies of three high school seniors who received Comcast scholarships. You can also meet them briefly through the video above. In addition, here are excerpts of the three students that HBPA introduced to us, and allowed us to honor. The biographies were written by the HBPA scholarship committee. It was a privilege to meet these women at the celebration last week.
Maria Celeste Campos will be graduating from Shadle Park High School and plans to attend Whitworth University to pursue pre-medicine or dental hygiene studies. She enjoys working with children and looks forward to serving young people in her chosen career.
With her “can do” attitude, Maria has been named as a 2013 Spokane Scholar and has earned an amazing high school grade point average of 3.976. She accomplished these high marks through her gifts as a student, but was coupled with focus, persistence and hard work.
Her success in United States public school is even more incredible when you consider that Maria, because of circumstance, had to teach herself English without the support of English Language Development classes. It is amazing and inspiring to learn about Maria’s story of determination and self-motivation working through barriers and hardship in her quest to attain an education.
Maria is fluent in three languages; English, and Spanish and French. She shares her enthusiasm and excitement about the Spanish language by volunteering her time coaching first-year Spanish students at Gonzaga University. She also volunteers time by teaching French and Spanish to young children in her high school’s early childhood education program.
Melissa Francis will be graduating from Lewis and Clark High School and plans to begin her college education at Spokane Falls Community College next year to pursue a degree in law.
Melissa has earned a solid high school grade point average of 3.3. She has challenged herself by taking rigorous coursework such as Advanced Placement classes and college credit-bearing French courses. Melissa’s recommending teachers describe her positive attitude, caring personality, ability to work well in groups, and strong work ethic as the basis for her excellent marks.
Melissa accepted an opportunity to demonstrate her commitment and leadership skills by volunteering at Maria Cantwell and Jay Inslee’s campaign headquarters where she was able to lead an effort to contact Spanish-speaking voters. She was able to educate Latino voters about the importance and value of their vote. Melissa’s effort was described as an “integral part of the campaign.” Melissa has also volunteered her time in other ways. She spent last summer in Mexico, immersed in the culture by serving as a teaching assistant at a local Catholic church. She volunteers locally with T-shirt distribution during Bloomsday, and she tutors students in school who need help with their studies.
Through her mother’s immigration to the United States, Melissa knows firsthand how challenging the immigration process can seem for Hispanics. This experience has shaped her desire to assist Hispanic people with immigration legal services after earning her law degree.
Camina Hirota will be graduating from Shadle Park High School and plans to attend Whitworth University next academic year to pursue a psychology degree and to minor in Spanish. She looks forward to using her gifts and talents to make a difference on Whitworth’s campus and in her community.
Together with strong leadership, volunteer experiences, and an amazing academic record, Camina has been named as a 2013 Act Six Scholar. She has earned a perfect high school grade point average of 4.0.
Camina’s recommending teacher describes her as a leader who is kind, caring and possesses great honesty and integrity. Camina served as the National Honor Society as well as International Club president at her school. She has volunteered countless hours to the Mobius Children’s Museum and Science Center.
Camina has a desire to transform her community through care, compassion, and helping others. She has a special interest and focus on helping people who lack self-confidence feel accepted and confident in themselves and in their culture and heritage.