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Dane County Scholarship Propels Students to Achieve Dreams

Stories of Hope

September 07, 2021

Scholarships propel students Kareena and Juan Carlos and their families to pursue shared dreams.

Juan Carlos graduated from Madison East High School in 2019. Kareena graduated from LaFollette High School this year. Both know that a college education could help them escape poverty and allow them to assist their families which remain in need. But could they achieve their dreams of becoming the first college graduates in their families?

Every academic year, the Youth Service Council (YSC) of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul—Madison provides post-high school scholarships to area students whose families have lower incomes. In addition, the family of each scholarship recipient receives material support in the form of rent aid and grocery store gift cards.

YSC scholar Juan Carlos

Catholic high school students across Dane County join the YSC to share faith, fellowship, and opportunities for service with other area teens. YSC members say that raising money to provide scholarships for students who would otherwise have difficulty attending college is their most meaningful project each year.

“Tonight mattered,” explained YSC member Peyton, describing the group’s review of each application to determine how to allocate the funds raised to students in need and their families. “We gave money in a way that is tailored to each family’s needs.”

Kareena and Juan Carlos attest to the importance of the assistance for their families in addition to the help with tuition.

“Since I could, I’ve worked to make money to help my family,” Kareena shared. “This scholarship will help my family have money for rent and for food. That makes it a lot easier for me to focus on my studies.”

Juan Carlos lives with his sister and her family. His father died when he was eight, and his mother lives in Mexico. He agrees the added support helps him stay in college.

“I knew that I wanted to do more studying after high school, and it was going to be hard. I don’t have my parents with me. It’s hard to pay for college – it’s really expensive. The extra money for my family allows me to focus more and keep my mind off of money problems.”

Juan Carlos will complete the liberal arts transfer program at Madison College this fall, then plans to finish his engineering studies at UW-Madison. Kareena starts at UW-Madison this fall and intends to pursue studies in health science.

Both students are grateful to St. Vincent de Paul and the wider community’s support. They look forward to a brighter  future when they can help their families and community.

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