Teachers award scholarships to Abilene-area graduates

This fall the Texas Classroom Teachers Association awarded scholarships totaling $6,000 to two 2012 high school graduates from the Abilene area who are pursuing higher education: Fabian Esquivel, Winters High School, Winters ISD; and Emilia Richardson, Sweetwater High School, Sweetwater ISD.The two deserving teens are among 42 students across Texas to receive scholarships totaling $108,000 from the TCTA Scholarship Program, which is funded by the estate of the late Charles and Phyllis Gottlieb. Awards are based on the cost of tuition at recipients’ chosen schools and financial need.The TCTA Scholarship Program is unlike most others, thanks to its benefactors. When establishing the scholarship criteria, TCTA honored Phyllis Gottlieb’s wishes, which were that educators be the ones who identify and nominate students for the scholarships, and that the students chosen be those who have the potential and desire to succeed in higher education but who would not likely have the opportunity to do so without assistance. Fabian Esquivel: Winters High School, Winters ISDEsquivel, who is attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., received $5,000 to help him pursue a degree in accounting. He is the first in his family to attend college. He lost his father in an automobile accident when he was just 7 years old, and his mother has struggled to support the family. “Knowing my family would never be able to afford to send me to college, I’ve worked hard to earn good grades and make the most of my high school career despite my setbacks,” Esquivel wrote in his scholarship application. “I’ve dreamed, since childhood, of attending the University of Michigan. … I want to rise above the tragedy in my life and I want to make something of myself. … I want to be the one who changes the path of my future.”TCTA member and Winters ISD teacher Deb Pritchard nominated Esquivel for the scholarship. “[Fabian] has pulled himself up by the boot straps and faced life’s challenges head on,” Pritchard wrote in her nomination. … His future is bright and the possibilities endless. Fabian will obtain the goals he’s set and make a successful life for himself.”Emilia Richardson: Sweetwater High School, Sweetwater ISDRichardson, whose dream is to become a teacher like her grandmother, is using her $1,000 TCTA scholarship to pursue a theatre degree from South Plains College. She plants to later attend Tarleton State University to earn her teaching certification.Richardson supports herself financially, and did so even as a high school student. “It has been an uphill struggle, but it has given me an even stronger motivation to continue in my education,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “From day one I have refused to let my life fall to pieces just because of a lack of traditional support in my home life. With a little bit of help and a lot of determination, one day I will be a college graduate.”TCTA member and Sweetwater ISD guidance counselor Tamara Alexander nominated Richardson for the scholarship. “Emily has basically raised herself over the last few years,” Alexander wrote. “She has always maintained a job to help support herself financially while at the same time maintaining excellent grades, participating in one act play, and being involved in activities and clubs. … She is an extremely hard worker and will greatly benefit from this much-needed scholarship.”Now in its third year, the TCTA Scholarship Program awards scholarships in amounts up to $5,000 per year for tuition and required fees. In 2011, the program awarded a total of $69,000 to 29 students, and in 2010, the program awarded a total of $29,500 to 17 students, bringing the total awarded during the life of the program to $206,500.Scholarships must be used to pursue courses of study leading to recognized degrees at accredited two- or four-year colleges, community colleges or career/technical schools. Recipients may apply for continued assistance based on satisfaction of specific academic criteria and availability of funds.TCTA scholarship applications are due June 1 each year and can be submitted online at HYPERLINK "http://scholarship.tcta.org" scholarship.tcta.org. To be nominated, a student must: be a high school senior and a U.S. citizen and Texas resident; demonstrate financial need; have a minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale; and demonstrate the traits of strong personal character and potential for success. Nominators’ or nominees’ parents’ membership in TCTA is neither an advantage nor a disqualifier. However, teachers/counselors may not nominate their own children.The Texas Classroom Teachers Association is a nonprofit, independent professional association serving more than 50,000 Texas educators. Founded in 1927, TCTA is based in Austin and is the only statewide teachers association that limits active-level membership to those directly involved in classroom teaching or teaching support, including librarians, counselors and teacher aides.