Mexican-American woman from Omaha wins EducationQuest scholarship
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A statewide nonprofit has awarded $138,000 in scholarships to 24 Nebraskans, including 23-year-old Yajaira Villagomez.
Villagomez was born in Omaha after her parents emigrated from Mexico in 1998. She is the eldest of three siblings and married when she was 17. Some would say that’s a young age to get married, but Yajaira says that’s normal in Mexican culture. .
“My grandmother had her first child at 14, so it’s no surprise people are getting married young let alone getting married to someone older,” Villagomez said.
But the marriage soon ended, as did her college career at the time, but her perseverance paid off.
English Specialist for Project Achieve, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Connie Sorensen-Birk, nominated Yajaira for the EducationQuest Fellowship. EducationQuest is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to improve access to higher education in the state.
“She took the initiative, applied and got it,” Sorensen-Birk said.
The application process for the Reach Your Potential Scholarship requires two tries. The first details the obstacles in your life and what you have done to overcome them. The second, how you plan to give back to the community.
“That’s honestly the most important thing to me. So many more of us are lost and I just want to enlighten them and let them know that anything is possible,” Villagomez said.
“It’s really inspiring. You know, there are some great young people out there. So how can you not have hope for the future,” Sorensen-Birk said.
Yajaira plans to graduate in August next year. She is pursuing a medical education and hopes to one day help people with mental health needs.
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