(GARLAND ISD – March 31, 2013) With graduation just a few months away, four Garland ISD seniors are setting their sights higher than college. They hope to finish high school with $20,000 in financial aid assistance secured.
Magali Duran, Zachary Langley, Maximiliano Ortiz and Rosa Romero have been named Dell Scholar Semi-Finalists.
“The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation developed the Dell Scholars Program to recognize those students who overcame major obstacles and were still able to maintain academic success in rigorous courses as well as participation in extra-curricular activities,” explained Janice Howard, GISD AVID director.
Every year, thousands of students across the country complete an intense application process that includes several essay questions. Prospective seniors are then whittled down to around 1,000 semi-finalists.
Three hundred Dell Scholar Finalists will be named April 10. In addition to $20,000 for college, they will also receive a laptop, a private scholar networking community, resources and mentoring to ensure they have the support needed to achieve their college degrees.
According to Howard, Garland ISD has produced Dell Scholar Semi-Finalists at every AVID high school, but only one Finalist in its history. North Garland alumnus Jose Ramirez received the coveted title two years ago. This year’s honorees hope to be added to the district’s Finalist fame.
South Garland HS
Magali Duran is the senior class president at South Garland High School. She plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall, majoring in architecture. In her fifth year of AVID classes, which included courses at O’Banion Middle School, Duran will be the first person in her family to attend a four-year college.
“Ms. Greenidge was my first AVID teacher at O’Banion Middle School,” said Duran. “She really focused on us, gave us the support we needed and helped us when our parents couldn’t. She got me in higher-level classes. Now I take all honors and advanced placement (AP) courses.”
Duran’s current AVID teacher at SGHS, Natalie Bauerkemper, encouraged her to apply for the Dell Scholars Program.
“They are looking for someone with a good GPA, community involvement, determination and drive,” Bauerkemper commented. “I knew that Magali was a good candidate. I’ve seen her so dedicated to this school. It’s her second love, right after her family.”
Duran learned about the Semi-Finalist designation when Bauerkemper surprised her at work with balloons.
“I started freaking out,” she remembered. “I was crying because I was in shock. I called my mom, and she started crying too. My sister was also in the background screaming.”
Duran’s classmate, Zachary Langley, will also be the first person in his family to go to college. He plans to attend the University of North Texas, where he hopes to be accepted into the Communications Design program. Langley feels that continuing his education will build the skills needed for a successful career.
“I want to be the guy who makes the logo that stays throughout history, like Coca-Cola or Toyota,” he said. “Getting a degree will help me get my foot in the door.”
Langley has already garnered state and national acclaim for his designs through Technology Student Association competitions. Last school year, he placed first at state and fourth at nationals. So far this year, he’s placed first at district, advancing to state competition in April.
Volunteering more than 500 hours throughout high school, Langley is a well-rounded student. Becoming a Dell Scholar Finalist would mean that he no longer has to worry about how to finance his dreams.
“These students will get scholarships, it’s just a matter of when,” said Bauerkemper. “No matter what happens, I’m so proud. This is a big honor.”
North Garland HS
Maximiliano Ortiz is a senior at North Garland High School. He strives to be a role model to his two younger brothers, demonstrating that high school education and college attendance are critical. After graduation, Ortiz will either attend the University of Texas at Arlington for architecture or the University of North Texas for music.
Ortiz, who also began AVID in middle school, says the communication skills he has learned have been most helpful.
“When I came here, I was shy and only had a few friends,” he said. “Now I feel comfortable talking to people I barely know. Whether it’s meeting new teachers, classmates or other people, good communication skills make the world easier. AVID has also kept me sure about my plans to go to college.”
Out of all his classmates who applied for the Dell Scholars Program, Ortiz was the only NGHS Semi-Finalist. His AVID teacher, Lisa Olsen, says she can’t think of a more deserving student.
“He’s a mature, thoughtful, driven person who’s able to carry burdens with great poise. He’s highly intelligent and a leader. Writing his recommendation was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. For someone without the slightest bit of braggadocio, it’s wonderful to see him in the limelight.”
Garland High School senior Rosa Romero is only in her second year of AVID, but it has already changed her life.
“I saw my friends getting good grades and help with their classes,” she said. “They also talked about going to college, and I was unsure what I wanted to do after high school. Now I take all AP and IB classes and plan on attending the University of North Texas to major in family development.”
Romero’s AVID experience also started a chain reaction within her family. Her older brother and sister both saw that they, too, could go to college and have enrolled in classes. That influence is exactly how Romero hopes to dedicate her life.
“I want to be an advocate for people who don’t think that they have a lot of opportunities available to them,” she said.
Romero currently dedicates her time to her peers and the community. She serves as the president of Garland High School’s fashion design club, a member of the Dashing Debs drill team, a member of Key Club, Beta Club and the Garland Hispanic Youth Organization.
“She’s the student that every teacher wishes they had, and the friend that everybody needs,” commented GHS AVID teacher Melissa McDonald. “Rosa is brilliant—number nine in her class—kind and sweet. I got goosebumps when I found out that she was a Semi-Finalist.”
Submitted by Tiffany Graber, Garland ISD Communications Specialist.
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