For ten years, Stand for Children Leadership Center has awarded several $10,000 college scholarships at the annual Beat the Odds Scholarship Awards & Fundraising Luncheon. The 2016 winners hail from St. Helens High School, Sam Barlow High School, and Lost River Jr./Sr. High School:
- Mackenzie Jerome, St. Helens: Kenzie grew up with her brother and sister in a rural environment, largely cut off from the rest of the world. She was fifteen years old when she entered foster care and walked into a classroom for the very first time. Support from her teachers and a passion for theatre helped propel Kenzie to the top of her class. She plans to attend Southern Oregon University and become a teacher herself. Watch a video about Mackenzie’s story.
- Antonio Hernandez Caballero, Sam Barlow: Antonio grew up in a small agricultural town in Mexico. In 6th grade, he quit school and went to work making bricks and harvesting corn. His parents were ill, his brother was struggling with addiction, and his sister had two young children to care for; the family needed his income to survive. When Antonio was 16, he came to the U.S. with the goal of completing high school. He mastered English quickly, and today he’s taking AP and college prep classes. Watch a video about Antonio’s story.
- Jessica Cobian, Lost River: When Jessica was 11 years old, her father was deported to Mexico. She was devastated, but committed to helping support her family. At 13, she went to work in the fields, and the experience cemented her drive to excel in school. She was the first female on her school’s award-winning robotics team, and aspires to a career in artificial intelligence. Watch a video about Jessica’s story.
These students defied the odds, but Stand for Children Oregon’s end goal is to change the odds so that all children, regardless of their background, can graduate from high school prepared for college or career training.
For the upcoming year, that work will largely consist of successfully implementing Measure 98, which voters passed by a wide margin earlier this month. Measure 98 will employ research based strategies to raise high school graduation rates—career technical education, college prep classes, and dropout prevention support. Oregon currently has the third lowest statewide graduation rate in the country.