FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Six students were chosen to receive the Janessa Ramirez Scholarship from the Foundation at Central Schools. Today, we feature Maura Cruz, one of the impressive students receiving the award in remembrance of Janessa Ramirez.
“The Janessa Ramirez Scholarship is to help continue the legacy of others–specifically the young Janessa Ramirez who was killed in gang violence. So, it’s really about continuing the legacy of other people such as the late Janessa Ramirez who couldn’t get her education, who cut her life short,” said Maura Cruz, a senior in the Central Unified School District.
The scholarship takes into consideration a student’s financial need, academic achievements and leadership roles.
“I’m a first generation student going to college and I’m just really a young girl that likes to be involved in her community. I just really love to involve myself in anything that has to do with my culture and really helping other members of my community strive for success.”
Maura faced many challenges as she grew up in a single income household and had to take on adult tasks at the young age of seven. Persevering, she writes in an essay, “It’s how we take these experiences in our lives and use them to motivate us all the more to paint a different reality.”
Andrew Alvarado, the superintendent for the Central Unified School District agrees and says, “You know, all the trials and tribulations that you had to this point will only make you that much stronger in the future and there’s no doubt that you’re going to have a very successful career.”
Joe Doyland of the Foundation for Central Schools, chimed in saying, “and you will be receiving that scholarship this year, so very well deserved and congratulations.”
Maura is set to graduate ranked number three in her class out of 698 students and said some thank you’s.
“Well, I’d like to say thank you, first and foremost to God for helping me all this way — amid my hardships and amid the difficult circumstances in my life. To my parents that have sacrificed so much for me being here in this country. For my grandma, who has been a very prominent role model in my life–has helped me gain spontaneity, has helped me achieve things that I never before thought I could have achieved. I really would like to say thank you, most of all, to my community, my LatinX and indigenous community that has really showed me that the united people is always stronger than the individual — helping each other, supporting one another. I’d like to say thank you to everyone.”
Maura has been accepted into the University of California, Berkeley.