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Aurora Tamayo: WestSide inspired her to achieve

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The Washington Apple Education Foundation is fortunate to have over 120 volunteers contributing time each year to impact lives through access to educational opportunities. Sixty of those volunteers serve on our scholarship selection committee. These volunteers select students for each of the scholarships WAEF awards.

Aurora Tamayo was selected to receive a WAEF scholarship sponsored by McDougall & Sons following her interview before a panel of six. Aurora thoughtfully communicated her motivation to succeed while sharing how her life changed at age 16 with the birth of her son.

Aurora always imagined a career where she could help others but didn’t have a plan of what that might look like until she found herself in need of help. Aurora was in high school when she became pregnant. Her plans for the future dramatically changed and she thought she would be lucky just to complete her high school degree.

A family advocate at the high school suggested she give WestSide High School a try when returning to her former high school proved to be too much of a struggle.

At WestSide, Aurora flourished with help from teachers that took an interest in her own unique challenges and recognized her abilities. Instructors and advisers encouraged her dreams to continue her education beyond high school and offered information about financial aid and scholarships.

Aurora recognized education as the necessary path to provide for herself and her son.

Aurora applied for a WAEF scholarship and was selected to interview before one of our committees.

Aurora’s career dream is to gain knowledge through education and use that knowledge, coupled with her own life experience, to make a difference in the lives of teenagers going through their own struggles.

Her personal dream is to raise a healthy son that looks up to his mom.

In the interview she shared she knows she will succeed because she has her son as her motivation.

As you might guess, there were not many dry eyes following Aurora’s interview.

With scholarship assistance, Aurora is now in her second year at Wenatchee Valley College. She works while attending school and cares for her now 3-year-old son, Manny.

She plans to become a counselor and continue her education at Central Washington University after achieving her AA at WVC.

At WAEF, we are so appreciative of the volunteers that give their time, the donors that provide financial resources and the students that do their best and make it all worthwhile.

We also want to express appreciation for the work that gets done under the radar each and every day by caring individuals and a host of nonprofits.

Our communities are stronger thanks to the dedication of many!

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