Being a Daniel’s Fund Scholar is a coveted honor. To earn the scholarship is to truly have succeeded in one’s high school experience.
“The Daniels Scholarship Program provides a four-year annually-renewable college scholarship for graduating high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional character, leadership, and a commitment to serving their communities.” (Daniels Fund website)
This year CEC senior Devon Soto, received this prestigious scholarship, which will help him attend college without having to incur financial debt while he pursues his dreams.
Here’s what he had to say about the award:
How does it feel to be named a Daniels Fund Scholar?
When I first opened the mail it was such an honor. I was happy and I cried a little bit, because all of the hard work I did in the last four years paid off in one moment. It felt really great.
Where do you plan to go to college next year?
University of Colorado Boulder
How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
One of my goals is to break my family’s cycle of poverty and have my own business and become a Mechanical Engineer. It will break my cycle of poverty because now I won’t have to get any loans out, I won’t be have to be working forty plus hours a week while I’m a full time student in college. Now I can focus more time on my studies, on my academics. That way I can be top of my class and excel in what I am doing.
How has CEC helped guide you through high school?
It has helped guide me through high school through the career classes and clubs— welding, architectural design and I’ve been in robotics for the last three years. So the career classes and the clubs really helped me succeed and find out what I want to do.
Who/what has been the biggest influence for you throughout high school?
First, my mother, for always being there for me and caring for me and not having me work throughout high school. That was definitely a big help. A teacher? I would have to say, our counselor (Ms. Abbott) is one of a kind. She’s very helpful, I’ve been to her room many times just to work in there to give me a quiet environment. She was definite a big help for me. Another thing that helped was just being able to be me in such a supportive environment as CEC.
What was your mom’s reaction when you received the scholarship?
I brought her a rose and I gave her the letter at the same time. And she cried a little bit and she said, “I’m proud of you. You truly deserve this. Thank you for being my son.”
A few words from Counselor Mary Abbott:
I was blessed to chaperone Devon and 35 other juniors on a college tour to California this past spring. During this trip I got to know Devon well outside of the confinements of school and the more I learned about him the more respect I have for the young man. If I had one word to describe Devon it would be perseverance. He shared with me some of the personal struggles he has experienced, which have caused him to mature and grow up faster than most students. As a result of family situations, he has had to take on a great deal of responsibility at home, helping his siblings and his mom. He told me that through this trying time he has learned that “things are not always going to go according to plan and that some people in life have it harder than others and need the extra support”. Neither of his parents graduated from high school and he will be the first in his family to attend college. Devon hopes to break his family’s cycle of poverty and build a new path for his brother and sister. In his words “I want them to know that going to college is possible”. One of his goals is to help families and youth who are having trouble in high school.
If you ask his classmates about Devon the first thing they will say is that he always has a smile on his face and motivates them to be their best by setting the example. They will also add that he is compassionate, determined and perseveres through any obstacle that may stand in his way. He shared with me a quote from a motivational speaker “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”. Devon wants success just as bad as he wants to breathe. As long as Devon continues to advocate for himself I have no doubt that he will continue his academic success in college and set an example of empathic leadership and concern for one’s community.