OGDEN, Utah – A junior at Weber State University, who put aside adversity in her personal life to help others in the community, has received a scholarship in recognition of her compassion.
Brenda Dominguez, who is pursuing a degree in business education and communications technology, is the recipient of a $1,500 scholarship from the Center for Education Solutions. She was selected from a pool of more than 8,000 applicants worldwide.
For Dominguez, just being a college student, let alone a scholarship recipient, is hard to believe. She was 12 when her family moved to the United States. She spent her first months in the country navigating the tough streets of south central Los Angeles, living in a small apartment with three or four other families. Her inability to speak English made the transition even harder.
“Imagine coming from a place where I was an ‘A’-student to not being able to follow simple classroom lessons,” said Dominguez, describing her initial experience attending school in the U.S.
After three months in California, she moved with her brother and his family to Ogden. While many of the language barriers remained, Dominguez excelled at math and was assisted by math teachers who spoke some Spanish.
Despite the struggles in other school subjects, Dominguez pursued her education.
“Never in my mind did I ever say, ‘I’m not going to go to school,’” she said. She remained focused on her schoolwork despite her parents’ separation, her brother’s arrest and her father’s unexpected death. After high school she worked as a secretary. Through her work and volunteer efforts, she helped new immigrants acclimate to the area, recalling her own struggles. While working as a secretary at Ogden High School, helping Hispanic students who were facing some of the same challenges she experienced, WSU Upward Bound coordinator David Trujillo encouraged her to pursue a college education.
“I used to think college wasn’t for me,” Dominguez says. “I didn’t know financial help was available.”
Today Dominguez works for WSU’s Upward Bound program while pursuing her degree. Upward Bound provides a preparatory program for at-risk high school students to build their academic skills and develop positive attitudes towards learning and education. Her work with Upward Bound allows her to continue to reach out to students like herself, struggling to adjust to a new culture, a new language and new challenges.
She says by earning a degree she’ll repay her parents for the sacrifices they made. In turn, she hopes to be a role model for her own children. “It is not luck, it is hard work that brings success,” Dominguez says.
Founded in 1991, The Center for Education Solutions is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization devoted to education issues. From its inception, it has administered the A. Patrick Charnon Memorial Scholarship program, an annual award of $1,500 given to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated the values of compassion, tolerance and respect for all people. The scholarship memorializes Pat Charnon, a generous shoe merchant in Beloit, Wisconsin, who died of cancer in 1987. The Center’s website is www.cesresources.org.
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