EMERGE Class of 2015 awarded more than $20 million in scholarships, collectively
HISD paid tribute to 99 graduating scholars from 24 high schools during the second annual EMERGE Senior Awards Ceremony on April 28.
Through EMERGE, these scholars have earned the distinction of being accepted into colleges and universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Princeton, Rice, Smith, Stanford, Tufts, and Yale. As a whole, the group has been awarded more than $20 million in scholarships and financial aid, with the majority of students receiving individual financial packages totaling upwards of $40,000 per year.
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“This program is simply extraordinary because it grooms students—particularly first-generation college students—for success by setting high expectations,” said HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. “As we lead these students to success, we are creating a cycle of excellence that allows others students to believe that they, too, can attend their dream college.”
The EMERGE program helps low-income, high-potential students gain admission to and graduate from Ivy League and other top tier colleges and universities across the nation.
Among the students honored this year is Chávez High School valedictorian Leticia Ortega, whose family’s home was foreclosed upon when she was just a freshman.
Ortega wrote about the experience in her college admission’s letter to Harvard Unversity, which she read aloud at the award’s ceremony.
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Several other Emerge seniors also shared their personal experiences at the awards banquet. Click here to listen to their stories.
“Failure is a part of growing up and loss is a part of gaining understanding,” she said. “But without the guidance of my teachers and my peers, I would never have been able to gain the self-confidence to continue to guide my family through the foreclosure. Losing my home helped me find new life goals. Now…I hope to contribute to the spread of understanding in my community and in the rest of the world, so that others do not have to feel the same resignation I did.”
Ortega is the first Chávez student to be accepted into Harvard, where she plans to study engineering.
“I am extremely proud to see the seniors in EMERGE accomplish exactly what they set out to do,” said HISD Assistant Superintendent of College Readiness Rick Cruz, who created and oversees the EMERGE program. “Our college coordinators and program managers were a tremendous resource to these students when applying to top colleges, but the students truly put in the work needed to reach their goals.”