Two area graduates – one from Wyoming and one for Kentwood – were listed as among the 2016 scholarship recipients from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
2015 Lee High School graduate Monica Rivera received the Achille & Irene Despres, William & Andrea Scholarship which she will use toward her associate of science degree. She is a sophomore at Grand Rapids Community College.
Rivera recalls a moment in her childhood in San Luis, Mexico, when she developed hives after eating shrimp and had to wait in line for three hours before a physician could attend to her. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what are the people with real emergencies doing? There really is a need for physicians,” Rivera said. Fast forward a few years to when one of Rivera’s grandmothers in Michigan took a fall and had to wait two weeks to see a Spanish-speaking physician.
These stories are just two of many reasons why Rivera wants a career in healthcare. She hopes to one day be a bilingual physician and do missionary work in underserved areas in the U.S. and abroad.
For Rivera, this scholarship means she is able to work less and give back to her community even more. According to her, charity and empathy are important values to her family, so this scholarship frees Rivera to continue volunteering with refugee families settling in West Michigan.
2016 East Kentwood graduate Cheyenne Williams received the Donald J. DeYoung Scholarship which she will put toward her study of education and childhood development at Ferris State University, where she is a freshman. This scholarship is given annual to a student who has had contact with the family court. It was created in honor of Donald J. DeYoung, who was a Kent County probate judge.
Williams, who grew up in the foster car system, plans to study childhood development so she can guide other children, whether as a teacher or as a liaison in a hospital helping sick children better communicate with their doctors and families.
“The best thing you do is be a teacher,” Cheyenne said, even though she once thought she’d never want to be a teacher. One day she looked closely at the three-year-old girl she babysat. “I relalized I’d love to do this every day,” Williams said. “I’d love to teach kids right and wrong and be someone they can look up to for guidance.”
For Williams, this scholarship means that “the world still values education and teachers. It still sees people who have gone through hardships as relevant and contributing to society —not just as charity cases.”