No Stop Lights Scholarship 2016
Organized by: Rocio Bravo
McFarland is a small, rural community in California’s Central Valley. It is surrounded by agricultural fields where many of McFarland’s residents labor picking grapes, blueberries, oranges and onions among other crops. ESPN described the community as “dirt poor” in a documentary about the city’s well-known cross country program. McFarland's cross crounty program was also featured in the 2015 Disney movie, “McFarland, USA." Gang signs decorate wooden fences and a prison greets visitors from near and far by standing firmly next to Highway 99. And as you may have guessed, there are no stop lights.
I interpret the lack of stop lights as a symbol for the possibilities that exist for our youth. Our students are surmounting obstacles, breaking down barriers and demonstrating that there are no limits to what can be accomplished with passion, hard work and courage. More than winning cross country championships, students are earning college degrees and breaking the cycle of poverty. This is not easy to do as most are first-generation college students. Many immigrate to the United States, learn English as a second language and then take on the role as translators for parents or other family members. Like their parents, many students work in the fields to help support their family.
I grew up in McFarland, and I know these hardships first-hand. Now, as an alumna of Brown University, I am giving back to my community by helping others reach their dream of going to college.
In May 2016, we awarded the first scholarship to an inspirational young woman who will be heading to UC Santa Barbara this fall! She received $1000 for her first year and will continue earning $1000 for the next three years to help cover expenses like tuition, books, transportation, etc. With your help, we will award another scholarship in May 2017 to a second student on his/her way to college.
With a deep gratitude for the opportunities afforded to me, I strive to raise $4,000 or more by October 15, 2016 in recognition of those individuals who continue defying the odds. I invite you to join me in distinguishing deserving students interested in pursuing a college education and celebrating the next generation of leaders!
“Education is the engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Nelson Mandela