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Wisdom from a WAEF scholar who succeeded

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Each year, our small team at the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) gets to help a growing number of students attend college. This year one of our students returned to share her experiences at our annual luncheon.

Claudia Ramos was a WAEF scholarship recipient for four years who graduated from Wenatchee High School in 2009 and continued her education at Washington State University, graduating with a communications degree this spring.

Claudia started working as our foundation’s communications coordinator in July. It’s exciting to be part of students’ lives as they experience college and now to see that growth continue through a first-career job.

She shared her thoughts on what shaped her education path and her advice for others.

Q: Do you recall when you decided you were college bound? What, or who, influenced your decision?

A: Pursuing a higher education was never just an option; it was a goal. Neither of my parents received education past elementary school. Seeing their daily struggles working jobs that only helped make ends meet was my motivation.

In middle school, college was irrelevant to me; my parents knew very little about it, but they were always there supporting me in whatever it was that I wanted to do. Once I entered high school, I engaged in challenging courses and received advice from mentors. I decided that I wanted to do something with my life, not only to better my future, but also the future of the people who have always been there for me and my brothers: my parents.

Receiving a higher education would not only help me improve my economic income in the future, but also make my parents proud.

Q: What is your best advice for students looking to follow in your footsteps?

A: My advice to young students would be to follow their dreams. Those are such redundant words we hear all the time, but really it’s what you have to do. If you believe it, it’s possible. There will be obstacles — some may have it harder than others, but there is absolutely nothing that can stop you if you persevere.

Always remember where you come from and use that as guidance and motivation to take you to where you want to be. Dream it, earn it, live it is all there really is to say. There is always someone out there who will believe in you, but begin by believing in yourself.

This fall nearly 200 students like Claudia will enter college campuses with the support of the Apple Education Foundation. Claudia is now part of the WAEF team of volunteers, donors and staff here to provide encouragement, support and advice as students need us. We’re excited to see our students succeed academically and prepare for important leadership roles in their families and communities and happy to have one of our former scholarship recipients working with us.

Jennifer Witherbee is executive director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation. She can be reached at