Scholarship Recipient: Liz Vazquez
Liz Vasquez graduated from Dieruff High School in June 2022, having been awarded the Chandler-Barnes Scholarship. This honor was presented to her at the Communities In Schools (CISEasternPA) graduation celebration “Ready, Set, Graduate!” and provides $1,500 toward tuition assistance to an accredited college or university, business school, trade school, or training program. Despite facing challenges at home, transferring schools, and struggling with her mental health, Liz left high school with a 4.0 GPA and a newfound sense of independence.
CISEasternPA believes in the five basics developed by their founder Bill Milliken. It’s a list of essentials that every child needs and deserves. The third basic is a safe place for students to learn and grow. Until age 7, Liz lived in a New York City apartment building with her parents, where she remembers learning to ride a bike in a narrow hallway and eating bread and orange juice for dinner. When her family moved to Pennsylvania, her new home initially failed to be a place where Liz could succeed. However, in her new environment, Liz slowly began to find herself. She began a new hobby by caring for numerous fish. “To me, fish represent the depths of one’s unconscious higher self, feelings, and emotions,” Liz said. “I’ve had numerous pet fish throughout my life, and each one not only represented me but saw me through different stages of my life.”
With CISEasternPA’s assistance, she started to adapt to her new space, and through the changes she faced, Liz remained a hardworking student who maintained a clear sense of purpose both in and outside of the classroom. “While taking rigorous classes, she continued to get involved at school, volunteer at multiple locations, and obtained a job,” says Ms. Christina Kauth, a teacher in Allentown School District. “This girl is truly amazing, and knowing her character, she will accomplish any goal she sets.”
During her high school journey, Liz participated on the track team and was a member of the National Honors Society, where she served as secretary. She regularly volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Allentown and the Career Linking Academy. She also worked as a patient dining associate for Morrison Healthcare at Lehigh Valley Hospital. “Liz has always been hardworking and independent,” said Dieruff’s CISEasternPA Site Coordinator, Christina Echevarria. “She has shown a great deal of leadership throughout her high school years and is highly respected by her peers and teachers.”
Liz is grateful to her mother for the comfortable living space she provided for her children, and to her fish for being a source of familiarity and comfort. She also thanks CISEasternPA for showing her that she will always have a safe place to thrive. Liz plans to use her grant to attend Temple University in the fall to study medicine. With her fish tagging along, she is looking forward to meeting new people at college and building new relationships with those she encounters.