Friday, May 17, 2019 || By Shanel Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Maywood Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tom Engoren and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins pose with scholarship winners at Meal of the Day Cafe in Maywood on May 15. | Shanel Romain
Just a year ago, Leidy Rivas, 18, was living alone in Guatemala. Now she’s poised to attend Triton College in the fall.
“It was difficult,” she said of life in her native country, where she was constantly afraid of being robbed; where she had to trek to the river to get water for drinking, bathing and cooking; where she had to haul wood to light a fire.
“While in Guatemala, I had a lot of troubles and problems,” Rivas said. “I don’t want people to suffer as I did.”
A year after immigrating to America and reuniting with her mother, who had moved here to give her children a better future, Rivas is now an accomplished student at Proviso East.
“She came to us last month of last year,” said Evelyn Abelar, Rivas’ counselor. “She started strong and this year she just took off. She’s getting straight A’s and her language has really evolved.”
At Triton, she plans on studying psychology and thanks to the Maywood Chamber of Commerce, she’ll have some financial relief once she enrolls.
Rivas was one of five area high school students who received college scholarships from the chamber, which commemorated the largesse during a luncheon held May 15 at Meal of the Day Café in the Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood. The students will get $1,000 next year to use at the higher institution of their choice.
Moneesha Gay, 18, is a senior at Proviso Math and Science Academy. She’ll be attending Grambling State University in Louisiana this fall.
Taymar Jackson, Moneesha Gay, Leidy Rivas, Anahi Soto and Andrea Betinis were each awarded $2,000 scholarships from the Maywood Chamber of Commerce. | Shanel Romain
“I grew up with that school,” Gay said, explaining her motivation to attend the historically black institution, where she’ll study kinesiology. “Every year, my family would go to the Bayou Classic and a bunch of my relatives have attended HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities].”
Taymar Jackson, 18, of Proviso East High School, will also be attending an HBCU — Fisk University in Tennessee — to study mechanical engineering.
Anahi Soto, 18, is a senior at Proviso East who will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall to study civil engineering.
“I’ve been involved in the community since I was four years old,” said Soho, a lifelong Maywood resident and oldest of four.
Andrea Betinis, 18, is a senior at Walther Christian Academy in Melrose Park. She’ll attend Dominican University in River Forest in the fall to study biology.
Rivas spoke to the community-centric ambitions shared by all of the young scholars when she described her greatest motivation for pursuing psychology.
“I think the degree [and the scholarship] is going to help me to help people,” she said. VFP
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the amount of the scholarship. The students got $1,000 each; not $2,000 each. VFP regrets the error.
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