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Central Washington University

Five Awarded LEAP Scholarships to Attend CWU

At the recent LEAP1% Scholarship Awards Dinner, five students of Latino heritage were presented with $5,000 merit scholarships to attend Central Washington University. These students are not only high academic achievers; they demonstrate strong leadership skills and are motivated to make change happen in their communities.

LEAP is an acronym for Latina/o Education Achievement Program. The LEAP1% Scholarship Fund is a statewide initiative of Sea Mar Community Health Centers, which helps deserving Latino and Latina students attend college. CWU has been a program partner since its inception in 1998.

“Thousands of Latino students who dream of higher education lose hope,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino. “If we invest in them, we can help ensure that hope prevails, their spirits are lifted, and they stay strong—focused on their education.” That’s the goal of the LEAP1% Scholarship Fund.

Paying for college can be an obstacle for low-income students. Unprecedented numbers of Latinos are graduating from our high schools as class valedictorians, salutatorians, and honors students without the ability to afford college. They can face daunting barriers, often having to work long hours after school to support their families. Many care for younger siblings.

One LEAP recipient, slated to attend CWU in the fall, is Araceli Rios, an honors graduate of Kent-Meridian High School in Kent. As a high school freshman, Rios became a second mom for her siblings when her father left the family. Despite this, she has persisted with her studies and earned a 3.7 high school GPA. Rios is enrolled in the Kent-Meridian Technology Academy, a small learning community that prepares students in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

In addition to Rios, here are CWU’s other 2014 scholarship recipients.

Jennifer Canseco, of Granger High School, is currently taking advanced classes, preparing herself for college with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and being the first in her family to earn a university degree. Canseco plans to study psychology at CWU.

Jonathan Cortez, of Davis High School in Yakima, where he earns a 3.7 grade point average (GPA), leads a youth group in his local church and has contributed countless hours of community service. He says he will always take advantage of any opportunity to make a change in the world.

Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez, also from Davis High School, is the first person in her family to pursue a college degree. She says it has been her motivation to excel both personally and professionally. She takes a full load of international baccalaureate courses while still maintaining a 3.8 high school GPA.

Maria Molina, of Yakima Valley Community College, was born in Mexico with severe incurable vision impairment and is legally blind. Many expected that she would never learn to read and write, but with her mother, a dedicated teacher, Maria proved them wrong. When her family moved to the United States she learned English, passed the state tests in reading and writing, and graduated from high school with honors. Maria has completed her first quarter at Yakima Valley Community College with a 3.5 GPA.

Graphic courtesy of

Media contact: Jackie O'Ryan, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2845,

January 29, 2013

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