The Austin Chamber is proud to invest in our high school students to help prepare them for success in college, careers, or the military and grow our region’s future talent. The Direct-to-College Achievement Plan, or DTC70, is the first multi-chamber, multi-school district, multi-business compact with the goal to enroll 70% of graduating high school seniors directly in higher education.
To help break down financial barriers to college, the Austin Chamber held a FAFSA contest from March to May 2021 asking students attending eligible public schools in Austin ISD, Hutto ISD, Leander ISD, Pflugerville ISD, and Round Rock ISD to create a video inspiring their fellow classmates to file and submit their FAFSA application. The incentive for students was a $2500 scholarship that would go towards expenses relating to higher education, and we are happy to announce that three well-deserving winners have been chosen! All three Class of 2021 graduates posted their videos to social media to encourage others to access grants, scholarships and other aid.
Our first winner is Jesus Antonio Lopez Guerrero, hailing from Hutto High School and representing the Hutto Independent School District. Jesus will be attending The University of Texas at San Antonio starting this summer, where he will be majoring in marketing, a subject that he became passionate about by running various high school club Instagram accounts.
Jesus is excited to apply his creative skills and understanding of graphic design software at UTSA, and he is driven to learn more about the marketing profession. He told us that his drive to work in corporate marketing stems from his passion for seeing the outcomes of all the hard work that he puts into his studies. After graduation, Jesus’ goal is to start his own marketing firm that would manage social media for public figures and celebrities.
Jesus told us that the scholarship award will help him greatly. Because he is enrolled in the CAT program, he was unable to accept financial aid and was in a tough spot, and this award from the Chamber will pay for an entire semester. Congratulations to Jesus – we look forward to what he’ll accomplish and his bright future!
Our next winner is Jade Garza from Round Rock High School, representing Round Rock ISD. Jade will be attending Texas State University where she will study early childhood education. She’s excited by the prospect of becoming a kindergarten teacher, as she loves working with kids and teaching them the basics that will become the foundation of their educational careers.
For Jade, as for all of us, this last year has been a lot different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Honestly, I really missed being in the classroom and seeing my classmates. Not being able hang out with my friends and interact was definitely weird, and it took a toll on me since I’m very outgoing.” Jade was able to overcome these obstacles through participating on the gymnastics team. In addition to being a social outlet during socially distanced times, exercising provided her with a productive and healthy escape from some of life’s stressors.
Even though she did receive grants from Texas State, she still has more to pay for before attending, and this award from the Chamber will help her start college without worrying about how she will cover the rest of the cost of enrollment. Congratulations to Jade Garza for winning the FAFSA scholarship contest! We look forward to seeing more great things from her in the future, and we know that she will make a great teacher someday!
Our final winner is Annie Zelee, hailing from Hendrickson High School and representing Pflugerville ISD. In the fall, Annie will be attending Texas Southern University, where she will major in psychology with the goal of becoming a therapist.
Annie’s dream of becoming a therapist stems from her passion for helping others. “I like helping people a lot,” she said. “I noticed that in school, when teachers asked me if I could help a student out, I’d be really excited and go out of my way to help other students understand the lesson better. I just like helping people and making the world a better place.” Annie is excited about the career options that a psychology degree will provide and about the different groups she would be able to help, saying, “There are so many things I could do when becoming a therapist, but I would probably like to help children most.”
With the Austin Chamber scholarship award, Annie will be better equipped for her experience in higher education and will be able to kick off her college experience with less of a debt burden. Annie is a model student and learner, and we know that she will go on to achieve her dreams of becoming a therapist and helping children!
Again, congratulations to all our winners!