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“Something that I’ve learned from my mentor is always pay things forward, not necessarily with money, but with actions and deeds. You’re not alone. You’re not the only one out there in a bad situation. Beat the odds and you’ll succeed.” - Margaret Hobbins
Maggie Hobbins already knows a lot about making it through a bad situation. In the first grade, she was diagnosed with a learning disability and placed in special education classes. Her alcoholic mother was emotionally absent for much of her childhood, and her father, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, had many health problems that often made it difficult for him to work. When Maggie was nine years old, her father collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. For the next two years, her mother fell into a serious depression, worsened by the drinking, and rarely got out of bed. Maggie was cooking, cleaning, taking care of herself and making sure her mom ate and bathed. After an alcohol-fueled crisis and intervention by child protective services, her mother got the help she needed and Maggie began to excel in school. She has been on the honor role every quarter since the sixth grade and her amazing academic journey has taken her from special education classes to honors and AP classes today. Maggie plans to study criminal justice in college, because she wants to help others, and “pay forward the good people have done for her.”
“I want to be an example that you can come from nothing and become someone amazing, even when the odds are stacked against you.” – Jennifer Jimenez
Jenny Jimenez was separated from her drug addicted mother at birth. Almost immediately she was adopted by the Jimenez family. Sadly, serious health problems sent her adopted mother into hospitals and her adopted father spent so much time caring for her, he lost his job. By the time she was 11 years old, Jenny often had to fend for herself – cooking, cleaning, taking care of the house and paying the bills. Her older brothers were involved with the local gangs and put Jenny and her parents in jeopardy. When her brothers got seriously wounded in a gang shooting in the neighborhood, Jenny made a determined decision to change her life. Her years at Washington Latin Public Charter School have given her direction and a view of a future beyond her violent neighborhood. Jenny is making good grades in honors and AP classes, and plans to study sports management and journalism in college. Basketball is her passion, and her ultimate goal is to play in the WNBA. After a childhood of pain and struggle, Jenny says, “I am finally proud of myself.”
“In school, I felt protected. There’s no violence. All I can see every time I walk the hallways, it’s a smile.” – Ana Gloribel Pereira
Gloribel Pereira was born and raised in El Salvador. Her parents left Gloribel and her younger brothers behind to create a better future for the family in America. Until age 12, Gloribel and her younger brothers stayed with their grandparents. Coming to America, she would struggle to adjust to a new country, a new language, and a new school. With the help of teachers and classmates, she soon began to excel. But poverty and abuse disrupted her home life, leaving Gloribel to take charge of her younger brothers. “My mother has been the hard, red stoplight in the street to my success,” she laments. Gloribel took many jobs to put food on the table and buy clothes for her little brothers. She made the honor roll six years in a row, maintained a 3.8 GPA, and won awards in science and the humanities, and in public speaking. She is a member of the Girl’s Club, the Cooking Club, and dreams of becoming either an immigration lawyer or a prosecutor.
“I have a keen eye set on my future and all of the bright opportunities that lay ahead of me.” – Kim Tran
Kim Tran was born into a world of adversity and abuse. Kim’s childhood has been unstable: She has moved from place to place, even living out of her brother’s car for a time. As her Vietnamese parents and extended family struggled to gain a foothold in America, Kim struggled to find her place in the family. School has always been her refuge. Teachers have always been her champions. Today Kim is a cheerleader with a strong support system in Dominion High School from teachers and friends who have helped her to overcome the tremendous odds she has faced. Separated from her family, Kim is living with a teacher and his family, who opened their home to her, for her senior year. Kim works hard in Advanced Placement courses, mentors younger students facing adversity and works as a cashier at Wegman’s grocery store to support herself. Her goal is to go to Virginia Tech and study biochemistry.
“Because my mom came to this country, I have the opportunity … to become anything I want. All I have to do is work for it.” -- Eva Maria Turcios
At 17 years old, Eva Maria Tucios has endured a lifetime of trials. Born in Honduras, her parents brought two month old Eva to find the American dream. Her father worked hard and bought a house for the family in Virginia, while her mother stayed home to care for Eva and her younger siblings. By the time Eva turned 10, her American dream had turned into a nightmare of abuse. Her father started drinking heavily, terrorized the family, and eventually lost his job. A few months later, while drunk at home he brutally assaulted two buddies with a machete, and then ran from authorities. He was eventually deported. Eva’s family fell into extreme poverty—experiencing gnawing hunger, homelessness and hopelessness. She began working outside the home when she was 14 while caring for her younger siblings and excelling in school. Eva is a gifted student, maintaining a 3.8 GPA in all honors and IB classes, and is the secretary of the Hispanic Leadership Club at her school. She hopes to attend a four-year college and study biology, chemistry, or biomedical engineering. Eva’s ability to be grateful for the hard times shows a maturity far beyond her years.