Every year Stand for Children Oregon awards several $10,000 college scholarships at our annual Beat the Odds Scholarship Awards Luncheon in Portland, and at a reception in Eugene. These high school seniors have overcome enormous obstacles – loss, poverty, and homelessness – thanks to great teachers, counselors and mentors.
This year, four students accepted their awards. One North Medford student, and two students from Portland Public Schools attended the Portland event. A Springfield High senior received her scholarship at the Eugene event:
- When he was young, North Medford High School Senior Benito Torres-Mata sometimes missed school to work and help his mom provide food for his five siblings. His father has been in prison for most of his life. As he grew older, many of his peers started getting into trouble and experimenting with drugs. Benito focused on academics. His passion for soccer helps keep him on track. Benito looks forward to being the first in his family to obtain a college degree.
- Franklin High School Senior Brook Thompson’s life has been touched by poverty, alcoholism, and the loss of her grandfather and role model, Archie Thompson. Archie was one of the last native speakers of the Yurok tribe. School has always been a place for Brook to shine. Her pride in her heritage and her passion for the environment have inspired her to pursue a degree in environmental engineering.
- Roosevelt High School Senior Isaiah Eddington grew up in poverty, and his family moved frequently. When his mother ended up in an abusive relationship, Isaiah eventually found stability by moving in with his grandparents. Isaiah works hard to be a role model for his younger half-brother and the middle school students that he mentors. Community involvement and music keep him focused on his academics. He plans to study computer science or game design.
- As a 5-year-old, Paige Freerksen witnessed her mother’s arrest on drug charges. After a year in foster care, Paige was reunited with her mom and grandparents. She was homeless for a period in 5th grade, and again in 7th grade. That was the last time she lived with her family. Today, Paige is excelling academically and earning her own living, still finding time to run track and volunteer. She loves to travel, and is considering a degree in international studies.
Stand for Children’s members and partners believe that all students deserve excellent schools and excellent role models, and that’s why we are working hard to improve the public education system in Oregon. We want more students like Benito, Brook, Isaiah and Paige, to have a positive academic experience to help them overcome tough circumstances.
“Stand members understand the relationship between a healthy education system, healthy communities and a healthy economy,” said Stand Oregon’s Executive Director Sue Levin at the Portland luncheon. “And they will be relentless in demanding that our leaders do the right thing for kids and schools.”
At the Portland luncheon and Eugene reception we raised closed to $250K in net revenue to support this important work. We are thankful for the many Stand members, community leaders and partners who attended, and helped make these two events successful.