Education

Single Pasco mother’s struggle inspires daughter to dream of being a doctor

Jennifer Jimenez was just 6 when her father and older brother walked away, leaving her mom alone to raise her and a younger sister.

Her mother realized the importance of education and eventually graduated from Columbia Basin College with an associate’s degree and a Certified Nursing Assistant license.

“As a kid, I didn’t notice how hard it was for my mom to put herself through school, but looking back I can see what she did took a lot of hard work and determination,” Jimenez said on her scholarship application to the Hispanic Academic Achievement Program (HAAP).

Jimenez, a Pasco High senior and Columbia Basin College Running Start student, was rewarded Friday night for her own education determination.

She earned the top scholarship of the night — $10,000 to help follow her mother into the field of medicine. She wants to be a doctor.

In all, 6,104 students between fourth- and 12th-grade received certificates for maintaining a 3.0 grade-point average for the year at the ceremony at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. Thirty high school seniors received college scholarships, totaling about $80,000.

Anele Suarez, with the scholarship program, said committee members chose Jimenez based on her involvement with the HAAP program, her 3.7 GPA and her extracurricular involvement.

It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Although I do not want there to be challenges or obstacles in my way, I know there will be and I know I can face them, because my mom had to face harder challenges.

Jennifer Jimenez, Pasco High School

Pasco High Assistant Principal Lawrence Elfering said he is impressed with her dedication to her studies and serving fellow students. She’s a member of student leadership, Key Club and Natural Helpers.

Elfering first met Jimenez as a seventh-grader at Ochoa Middle School, and she wanted to be a doctor even then.

“She’s set herself up so she would be in the right spot for that. Whether it’s going to Tri-Tech ... or taking Running Start classes,” he said. “I know she’s very deserving of the scholarship.”

He said she also is good older sister, making sure her sibling is in the right classes and also on track.

“Although I do not want there to be challenges or obstacles in my way, I know there will be and I know I can face them, because my mom had to face harder challenges,” Jennifer wrote in her application.

My mom worked hard for six years of her life to give herself and her children a better life. In return, I will work hard for 10 years of my life to give a better life to my future family and my mother.

Jennifer Jimenez, Pasco High School

Her mother’s lesson about the importance of an education will continue on with her.

“My mom worked hard for six years of her life to give herself and her children a better life,” Jimenez said. “In return, I will work hard for 10 years of my life to give a better life to my future family and my mother.”

The scholarship winners are:

▪  Jennifer Jimenez, Pasco High School, $10,000, plans to attend Washington State University to study medicine.

▪  Chelsey Farias, Chiawana High School, $5,000, plans to attend Central Washington University to pursue a degree in education.

▪  Isidro Pantoja, Chiawana High School, $4,000, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

▪  Cynthia Castillo, Pasco High School, $4,000, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in civil engineering.

▪  Alondra Ayala, Chiawana High School, $3,500, plans to attend the University of Washington to pursue a degree in neurobiology.

▪  Arturo Gutiérrez, Chiawana High School, $3,500, plans to attend WSU Tri-Cities to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

▪  Lisbeth Guadarrama, Pasco High School, $3,500, plans to attend Columbia Basin College to pursue a degree in nursing.

▪  Jacqueline Jiménez, Chiawana High School, $3,500, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in psychology.

▪  David Hernandez, Pasco High School, $3,000, plans to attend WSU Tri-Cities to pursue a degree in civil engineering.

▪  Melissa Guzman, Chiawana High School, $3,000, plans to attend Heritage University to pursue a degree in social work.

▪  Josie Derrick, Pasco High School, $3,000, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in computer engineering.

▪  Julieta Marin, Chiawana High School, $3,000, plans to attend Eastern Washington University to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

▪  Maria Chavez, Kennewick High School, $3,000, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in engineering.

▪  Angelica Velazquez, Connell High School, $2,500, plans to attend the UW to pursue a degree in dental hygiene.

▪  Perla Moran, Pasco High School, $2,500, plans to attend the UW to pursue a degree in environmental studies.

▪  Adan Ramos, Connell High School, $2,500, plans to attend the UW to pursue a degree in neurology.

▪  Bianca Castellon, Kamiakin High School, $2,500, plans to attend CBC to pursue a degree in social work.

▪  Maribel Garcia, Chiawana High School, $2,000, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in business and finance.

▪  Andrea Roman, Kamiakin High School, $2,000, plans to attend WSU Tri-Cities to pursue a degree in English.

▪  Chad Murphy, Richland High School, $2,000, plans to attend EWU to pursue a degree in genetics.

▪  Samantha Aparicio, Kennewick High School, $2,000, plans to attend Biola University to pursue a degree in biology and nursing.

▪  Elizabeth Benitez, Southridge High School, $2,000, plans to attend Walla Walla University to pursue a degree in social work.

▪  Adriana Iturbe, Hanford High School, $2,000, plans to attend WSU Tri-Cities to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

▪  Cecilia Espinoza, Pasco High School, $2,000, plans to attend the UW to pursue a degree in social work.

▪  Maria Hernandez, Kennewick High School, $1,500, plans to attend EWU to pursue a degree in nursing.

▪  Anahi Sanchez, Pasco High School, $1,500, plans to attend CBC to pursue a degree in pediatric nursing.

▪  Genesis Mendoza, Connell High School, $1,500, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in environmental sciences.

▪  Kristy Montoya, Pasco High School, $1,500, plans to attend Gonzaga University to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

▪  Anthony Mendoza, Kennewick High School, $1,500, plans to attend WSU to pursue a degree in science.

▪  Joseline Huerta, Delta High School, $1,500, plans to attend UW-Bothell to pursue a degree in pediatric nursing.

Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402, @cameroncprobert

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