Thirty-six senior high school students received life-changing awards to pursue their dreams
Malcom X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
For some Nevada students, the only obstacle standing in their way is figuring out how to fund that “passport.” Recognizing this need for scholars in the valley, The Rogers Foundation provides opportunities to support future generations seeking a higher education.
The Rogers Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Las Vegas, works hard to bridge this gap. The Foundation’s mission is to “transform the lives of children and young adults through art and education.” Their work continues to celebrate bright students in the community through funding and supporting local arts and education programs.
On Tuesday, April 26, the Foundation honored 36 senior high school students in the Clark County School District by presenting over $3 million in scholarships during a Facebook Livestream event. Beverly Rogers, Chairman of the Board; Rory Reid, President and Chief Operating Officer and Michelle Sanders,Executive Vice President, and COO for The Rogers Foundation, bestowed the awards to the recipients.
“This is our favorite time of year as we get to fulfill our ongoing pledge to transform lives through arts and education,” says Beverly Rogers in a statement. “These students are impressive on paper and even more remarkable when you meet them in person. It is clear that they are future leaders who will make a positive impact on the world. We can’t wait to see what they do. These scholarships honor the legacy of my husband, Jim, who was a determined and tireless champion of education and he’d be so proud of these students.”
The Big Reveal
This year, they delivered the news with an unexpected twist. Several students were under the impression they were being interviewed about the scholarship. Instead, the recipients were told in advance in-person they won during the Facebook livestream event. During the event, the students accepting their scholarships appeared genuinely awestruck realizing they had already won.
“Seeing the look on the faces of these deserving students when we surprised them was so rewarding,” says Michelle Sanders in a statement. “We felt a little bad making them believe they were coming for a second interview, but it was worth it just to be able to look them in the eye and tell them they won.”
During the presentation, they announced the recipients of the Rogers Achievers Scholarships. The education aid for each student ranges from $20,000 to $100,000, which is valid for any college or university in the United States. Following this reveal, the Foundation awarded 16 full-ride scholarships to Kentucky Wesleyan College, which is the same institution many of Jim Rogers’ family members graduated from and offers a highly acclaimed arts program. In addition to all of these rewards, the non-profit also honored two new Susan Tierney Fine Arts Scholarships amounting to $60,000. For the second consecutive year, they also merited a Dean Madsen Writing Scholarship.
The $100,000 scholarship recipient, Jang Choe, accepts his award via livestream. Upon receiving his award, he says, “I am actually a triplet and so my parents have to send three kids to college at the same time. Costs have always been a big concern. I’ll be able to go to Harvard with this money now. It really means a lot.”
This triplet attends Clark High School. With his award, he will pay his way through Harvard University. Choe plans to study molecular biology and public policy at the Ivy League college. Apart from his studies, he is also the Founder of The Las Vegas Student Information Hub.
This year they are honoring a second $100,000 winner, Naika Belizaire. She enters a colorful room filled with bright balloons welcomed by the Foundation board members. Upon receiving her award, she covers her mouth in shock.
“I never thought I would be able to have something like that in my life,” says Naika Belizaire as she is handed a giant check. “I can’t believe it. I’m going to my dream school.” She fans herself to keep from tearing up.
Naika Belizaire attends Advanced Technologies Academy. With her scholarship, she plans to go to Howard University and follow in the footsteps of Madam Vice President, Kamala Harris. Her goal is to earn a Bachelors of Arts to Juris Doctorate dual degree and become a civil rights attorney.
“Each year we see an impressive group of students, but this year they really blew us away. Despite the challenges these students faced, they not only persevered but have excelled and thrived,” says Rory Reid in a statement. “They’ve continued to dream about their futures and about the ways they’ll make this world better. That’s why The Rogers Foundation decided to increase the amount that we planned to award because these students deserve the opportunity to pursue their goals of higher education and to be celebrated.”
Hundreds of students applied for these scholarships. For the past several months, the Rogers Foundation board members read through every submission. The non-profit conducted dozens of interviews to narrow down the applicants and determine the finalists.
These Clark County students now have the financial resources to breathe life into their ambitions. From aspiring scientists to civil rights attorneys, these gifted individuals aim to become our future leaders. We look forward to seeing where their passion drives them in years to come.
Watch the award ceremony video below
Kentucky Wesleyan College Full-Ride Scholarship Winners:
Easton Leech, Northwest Career Technical Academy
Emilee Perone-Grigsby, Ed W. Clark High School
Estefanny Garcia Martinez, Bonanza High School
Ethan Petrosky, Desert Oasis High School
Grace Vazquez-Rodriguez, Desert Oasis High School
Harrison Stanley, Sierra Vista High School
Hayden McDermott, Somerset Sky Pointe
I’Janae Williams, Rancho High School
Jacob Wigger, Pinecrest Academy of Nevada Cadence & CSN
Meahel Heard-Pitra, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts
Nyree Walton, Rancho High School
Raffa Gano, Valley High School
Reagan Parise, Basic Academy of International Studies
Talayeh Rush, Southeast Career Technical Academy
Weston Petty, Ed W. Clark High School
Yatziry Gallegos, Valley High School
Rogers Foundation Achievers Scholarship Winners:
Aida Garcia, West Preparatory Academy
Alison Guevara Bermudez, Nevada State College
Deonna Howard, Desert Pines High School
Gabriela Ocampo, West Preparatory Academy
Josue Ramirez, Advanced Technologies Academy
Megan Lea, Coronado High School
Miguel Torres, Spring Valley High School
Nikolas Zappia, Desert Oasis High School
Ashley Vasquez Romo, Basic Academy of International Studies
Dre Boyd-Weatherly, Valley High School
Eden Abebe, Southeast Career Technical Academy
Emilia Dang, Coronado High School
Joshua Soto, Advanced Technologies Academy
Leo Chen, Coronado High School
Tsion Gebre, Rancho High School
Yixi Yang, Palo Verde High School
Jang Choe, Ed W. Clark High School
Naika Belizaire, Advanced Technologies Academy