Valley DACA student earns scholarship

LA FERIA — A DACA student who attends Our Lady Of the Lake University Rio Grande Valley became one of the first scholarship recipients on the campus.

In a small gathering yesterday at 11:30 a.m. at the La Feria campus three women were awarded. The Noble Charities representatives who funded the scholarship attended as well.

The three recipients of the scholarship are Jessica Todd, 37, Estefany Cerda, 22, and Amy Lee Pena, 25. Todd is working on a PhD, Cerda on a bachelor’s and Pena on a master’s degree.

Cerda in particular is a DACA recipient and a mother of a 2-year-old. Cerda described in her essay how her immigration status affected her being able to attend college.

“I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and I chose OLLU because I loved their program,” she said.

“I felt like my immigration status was something that I had to share because I don’t think faculty or staff understands the difficulty to receive financial assistance. We are excluded from so many things,” she said.

Cerda was able to get help in high school from a lawyer and received a Social Security number with DACA.

“I feel very honored and very blessed to receive this scholarship. As a mother and having a family it is very difficult to spend so much money on tuition; I am thankful,” she said.

The three students come from different cities in the Valley and have distinct backgrounds.

Those who wanted to be one of the recipients had to submit an essay of 500 words. They were supposed to describe why the scholarship would be beneficial to them.

The campus had not received scholarships in the past but the Noble Charities Foundation Scholarship changed that.

Noble originated as a construction company in Weslaco and moved to La Feria. The company gave the university $25,000 for scholarship funds to be distributed over the next five years. Each woman received a scholarship of $1,666.

Christine Blouch, Director of Noble Charities Foundation, said the core of their company is community and giving back.

“We decided to start Noble Charities Foundation to reach a wide arrange and give back to the community and we focus on the education field,” she said.

“Our mission statement is to inspire hope, improve lives and strengthen the communities we live in, so we do that daily,” Blouch said.