By Cynthia Boyadjian
This is part of a series of interviews with our 5 scholarship recipients for our 2018 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! This is to lead up to our 2019 program announcement on September 28.
The response to the scholarship was incredibly inspiring this year. What started 5 years ago as a small program has grown beyond our expectations. We wanted to see the students doing more for their communities, starting conversations, and inspiring people. So we raised the stakes and offered five $10,000 scholarships with the top recipient receiving an additional $5,000 to further fund their projects.
I had the opportunity to speak with our top recipient, Bryan Banuelos. Bryan comes to us from Taylorsville, Utah where he recently graduated from Taylorsville High School. Originally, he is from Mexico and he came to Utah to pursue a higher education. After speaking with Bryan, it became clear that he is very passionate about his work this year. One of his advisors at school is an advocate for undocumented students at Taylorsville High. Bryan was inspired by her to create “The Warrior Dream” program to reach more undocumented students and to help them achieve higher education.
As he launched his project, Bryan was able to break through one of the biggest stereotypes, “all undocumented students are Latino/Hispanic.” This helped him to broaden his perspective as well as to understand what it truly means to be undocumented. He has been able to work with many students who are struggling to afford college. His biggest hope is that the program will inspire these students to push through the barriers and achieve all that they aspire to achieve.
Through this experience, Bryan says he has gained skills in making connections, scheduling interviews, and building responsibility and leadership. This has allowed him to share all of his knowledge and ideas with those who also want to be a part of the program. He has also learned to listen other ideas and inquiries. The most important lesson, however, has been discovering that everyone has the capacity to help their community or enhance it in some way, shape or form. Bryan describes this experience as one of the most rewarding and satisfying he has had in his life so far.
Bryan has been happy and surprised to see that the community aspect of his program is growing the fastest . Multiple students have reached out to him to become a part of the Warrior Dream Program. The more he talks about it with them, the more interested and inspired they become. He says the best part of increasing connections is the number of ideas and suggestions he has received, as well as witnessing the growing creativity and enthusiasm for the program. Some students have offered to donate piano presentations for fundraisers while others have offered to serve as intermediates between the program and the school. Today, the Warrior Dream Program is composed of seven people, and they will soon host a meeting to plan for the next school year. Bryan has also increased connections by speaking with Granite School District, The Dream Center at the University of Utah, The Chicano/Chicana Scholarship Fund, Gear Up, AVID, and the Latinos in Action advisors. He hopes these connections will bring more opportunity and growth for years to come. Because he is the top recipient, he received a $5,000 grant. He has plans to put this back into the program mainly for a scholarship, but to also fund the program expenses and pay for fundraisers. Regarding the community aspect, an essential goal is to host fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds for a scholarship for one undocumented student per year at Taylorsville High School.
Bryan is a graduate of the class of 2018 at Taylorsville High School and he will be continuing his education this fall at The University of Utah. He still plans to be a part of The Warrior Dream program as much as he can; however, he trusts that he has people with the same goals and aspirations as him to continue with his vision for the undocumented students of Taylorsville High. Bryan’s work has been truly inspiring for his family, peers, teachers, as well as all of us at Honors Grad U. Congratulations Bryan, we know you will do amazing things for years to come!
Link to donate to the scholarship he has since founded through a local school district foundation can be found here.
See other awardees’ interviews here: