001A month ago, the Lake Highlands Women’s League announced the winners of their college scholarships, pulling excited students out of class to give them the good news.

Friday, the ladies hosted a ceremony and reception to celebrate with the students’ proud parents, many of whom expressed their gratitude with quiet bows and broken English. The kids went back and forth, mugging for the camera with groups of their buddies and posing for family photos which will hang prominently in their family’s home. Many said they’ll be the first of their relatives to attend college.

You can see my photo slideshow here.

Despite stories of fleeing war-torn countries, immigrating to America alone, overcoming the death of a parent,  and surviving disease or abuse, these students have thrived in school, excelled in athletics, led organizations, founded clubs, and made new friends – all while holding after-school jobs and/or doing significant community service.

groupAmazing!

Receiving 2013 LHWL scholarships were:

Damanta Adhikari, Tarleton State University

Samuel Agabi, Tarleton State University

Jose Barbosa, Oklahoma Baptist University

Brian Boos, University of Texas

Katie Bott, UT

Makayla Burnham, Spellman College

girlsKeshanda Carraby, Texas Women’s College

Erika Carrillo, TWU

Salha Faki, TWU

Lucina Garcia, Stephen F. Austin

Tha Hnem, UTA

Stella HrangLung, TWU

Cynthia Ibarra, Tarleton State

Gennesis Jimenez, UTA

Bhupendra Karki, UTA

Reginald Marshall, Jr., Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Theresa Mendoza, SFA

Misha Montfort-Mills, UTD

Adam Morrissey, UT

Kelsey Munoz, Texas A&M

Diep Ngo, TAMU-Commerce

Laura Leigh Oualline, Texas Tech University

Mason Puckett, Texas State University

Sharon Sequera, TAMU

LaSchastia Stegall, San Angelo State

Hunter Stephan, UTA

Olivia Tawi, Tarleton State

Wayne Taylor, University of North Texas

Natalie Von Sternberg, TAMU

Madison Wieters, University of Arkansas

Hannah Willard, TAMU

Rodger Williams, Oklahoma State, and

Ebenether Wondaferew, Texas Tech.