The Washington Apple Education Foundation held its annual luncheon on Monday at the Wenatchee Convention Center and recognized outstanding students from North Central Washington who have received scholarships.
The amount of money the industry has pumped into scholarships is impressive. This year's total was $650,000, up more than $200,000 from the previous year. Some of the recipients come from families in which education is an expectation but the vast majority are from families where that hasn't been the history. Lots of the Latino students are the first in their family to go to college.
Mike Wade of Columbia Fruit, who was emcee for the event, told the students that the better perspective they develop through their education, the greater their chance for success.
It is an enormous investment in the future that the tree fruit industry continues to make, especially given the fact that many of the workers who toil in the orchards come from humble beginning. It speaks highly of the sense of responsibility and the long-term perspective, because they are training innovators who will contribute not only to the industry but to medicine, science, business, health care and any number of professions. A total of 200 students received scholarships.
Recently hired foundation staffer Claudia Ramos, a Wenatchee High School graduate who had been a scholarship recipient, said she had a desire to go to college but the financial and other support given by the foundation helped her succeed. "I was humbled to feel that I had people behind me," she said. She encouraged the scholarship recipients to remember where they came from and where they are going.
Gloria Ochoa, the daughter of migrant workers who were undocumented, and now an attorney in Spokane and a tribal court judge, said she attended 11 schools while she was in elementary school. She understands where many of them have been and told them to be willing to risk failure, to take every barrier as a challenge and invest in themselves and help others whenever they can.
The foundation does far more than just give these students funds. They wrap them with a cloak of support that includes mentoring, care packages and campus visits. It's a remarkable program.
What is being accomplished by the industry is laudable and changing lives of many young people who otherwise wouldn't have opportunities.