High dropout and push-out rates, mass incarceration, skyrocketing college fees, diminishing financial aid opportunities, lack of mentors, first in the family status: these barriers to college access are especially acute for undocumented, homeless, foster care and LGBTQ youth of color.
Black Skeptics Los Angeles proudly announces our 2014 First in the Family Humanist scholars and thanks all the generous donors* who made these awards possible. Scholarship awards will be given on August 16th at CFI Los Angeles. We extend special thanks to Atheists United and the Freedom from Religion Foundation who generously gave $1000 each.
Elizabeth Hernandez, CSU Monterey Bay (Gardena HS)
Elizabeth is a foster care youth and has been active in Gardena’s Gay/Straight Alliance, Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Cinco De Mayo committee which helps Mexican American women go to college.
“With a lack of education my classmates have low self-esteem…they target who they feel are the ‘weak’ students, including special needs students, homosexual students, even students of the same ethnicity…(So) Being a humanist is easy for me through supporting our GSA and being vice president of the SADS group to stop violence and create a safe environment for everyone on campus.”
Tiare Hill, El Camino College (Gardena HS)
Tiare is a foster care youth and a member of the Women’s Leadership Project and aspires to be a journalist.
“Through the things I have seen in my community there are numerous problems in our criminal justice system that must change. It is known to a lot of people that the police are racist against African Americans. I would like to become a television news anchor who reports on issues like these and government policy.”
Freedom From Religion Scholarship Award:
Kelvin Manjarrez, El Camino College (Gardena HS)
Kelvin has been a volunteer for Reading Partners Los Angeles and a translator in the 2014 primary election. He identifies as an atheist and aspires to be an English professor.
“I have always been passionate about our educational system. A wise man once said that: ‘Humanity’s greatest fear is the unknown’. This accounts for contrived religions of all sorts, a simple explanation to the unexplained…Citizens who are better educated can better distinguish between right and wrong. This, in turn, generates understanding and unity amongst different groups of people who would have otherwise segregated, fought and killed one another. It is of no coincidence that some of the brightest minds in history have been social activists as well as advocates for a better pedagogical system: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse Tyson, just to name a few.”
Returning Scholars: Mini-scholarships for outstanding community service
Jamion Allen, El Camino College (Washington Prep HS)
“The Black Skeptics first in the family scholarship had a big effect on my first year of college coming from an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles. I’m from a single parent home and by receiving this scholarship I was able to pay for books, scantrons and extra-curricular items and succeed in my first two semesters…I think there would be a great impact if more students could receive this scholarship.”
Hugo Cervantes, UC Riverside (King-Drew Med Magnet)
“My first year at UCR is finally over and I’m glad that I have still been in contact with you Ms. Hutchinson. You are extremely inspiring to me to be as dedicated to marginalized youth as I pursue my own dreams and hope to do the same as you one day. My first year was fantastic! I’m planning to remain an English major and double major in Art History. I’m ecstatic to say that I will be assisting Professor Jennifer Doyle in an art project with Noa Bustamante in the fall. Professor Doyle has offered me a volunteering position at “Human Resources, HRLA’ for the summer. So it’s exciting that this summer I will be able to gain some gallery/museum experience so for next year I can apply to the bigger museums in the city. I know I wouldn’t have been able to be exposed to these opportunities if I hadn’t attended UCR and that was made possible by the First in the Family scholarship.”
*Donor List & Community Supporters
Freedom from Religion Foundation
D. Frederick Sparks
Alvin Greene III
Veronica Berglyd Olsen