Superintendent House surprises 10 hand-selected seniors with Scholars Awards

HISD Superintendent Millard House II presented high school seniors with the 2021-2022 HISD Superintendent Scholars Award on Wednesday, May 11, and Tuesday, May 17.

One of the stops was East Early College High School, where nearly half of the student body gathered in the commons to surprise senior Vianey Sanchez.

When she walked into the room full of cheering peers and family, she immediately started to cry.

On the microphone for everyone to hear, House joked that Sanchez wasn’t in trouble and that this was a celebration of her hard work throughout high school.

Not only did Sanchez receive a $2,600 scholarship from the district, she also received an additional $35,000 from the Westerman family who were in attendance on behalf of their foundation.

“I’m emotional, happy, and just grateful overall,” said Sanchez. “I don’t have to worry about financial burdens or anything. It’s going to allow me to complete college without having to worry about anything at all.”

All HISD high school principals nominated one senior for this award. The 35 nominees received a scholarship from the district with a base amount of $1,200. House selected the top 10 students to each receive a $2,600 scholarship.

The Scholars Award is for students who have exemplified outstanding character and resilience by facing and overcoming obstacles in their lives.

Among the recipients was Heights High School senior Cathrenia de Mendoza. In 2015, she lost her brother after he was hit by a drunk driver. Then, last year, she was involved in a serious car crash that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her family moved from north Texas to Houston for her rehabilitation. It has been a long road to recovery as de Mendoza has had to re-learn how to speak and write. Now, she’s graduating with honors.

The first stop on the second day of presentations was Sharpstown High School. Recipient Allan Nsengiyumva, along with his parents and three siblings, left a refugee camp in Uganda when he was eight years old.

“I was actually struggling to find my money to deposit in college that I’m going to commit to,” said Nsengiyumva. “Getting this money is like a wake-up call for me. It’s going to help me getting [to] college.”

House personally visited the campuses of all 10 recipients (listed below) and presented them with their scholarship checks and a sponsor-provided laptops.