A total of $7,200 in scholarships has been awarded to six local women for their involvement in promoting the educational advancement of women.
Presented by the Colorado Springs Association of American University Women (AAUW), the 2019-20 scholarships program recognizes applicants for their having demonstrated a commitment to furthering the educational advancement of community women. More than 50 AAUW members recognized the recipients during a May 18 presentation at the Patty Jewett Golf Course.
Award recipients are Cristina Mendoza, a business student at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Hannah Marie Powers, health sciences, UCCS; Morgan Pracht, communications, UCCS; Renee Roettger, inclusive early childhood education, UCCS; Alexandra Ruiz, criminal justice, UCCS and Sarah Teixiera, nursing, Pikes Peak Community College.
AAUW President Nancy Holt compared the presentation to students congregating in the gymnasium for an awards ceremony on the last day of school. “Those presentations gave younger kids a chance to see the big kids receive awards. It was a very inspiring day and this is one of those days,” Holt said.
Mendoza works as an assistant tax site coordinator at PPCC to gain perspective and customer service experience in her business major. She also works at a sushi restaurant to support herself and her younger brother, all while maintaining a 3.94 GPA at PPCC.
“I may be tired, but that is easily outweighed by my goals and desire to be the best example for my brother as my family has never been much for role models. To me, this scholarship means financial freedom to prioritize myself and educational loans. Every little bit helps and I am grateful to the AAUW for their help,” Mendoza said.
A single mother of two children, Powers works a low-wage job to pay the bills while juggling parenting and academic demands. She participates in the UCCS Women’s Endowment Scholarship program and has had assistance in transitioning into UCCS as a non-traditional student.
Powers loves medical laboratory science because it provides testing, accurate diagnoses, and preventive care by illuminating on cellular level symptoms that might go unnoticed or ignored. “This scholarship means the difference between graduating on time or in debt, and I am grateful to the AAUW for their assistance,” Powers said.
A 4.0 GPA student at PPCC, Pracht is pursuing a career in public interest law so she can help bridge the justice gap and fight for under-represented citizens. Ever active in debate and speech in high school, Pracht is a volunteer with the Pikes Peak Library District’s Study Buddies.
Through competitive debate, Pracht has learned that democracy plays out in the legal system and how U.S. citizens can influence society, bring about change and protect the nations’ freedoms. “The AAUW is an important organization, and I appreciate them supporting my efforts and offering me this scholarship,” Pracht said.
A single parent, Roettger is a computer lab education assistant at Sunrise Elementary School. She loves teaching elementary students, has taken classes at PPCC and has worked part time at the YMCA.
Roettger has extensive volunteer work in the community and 13 years of experience teaching technology-related subjects to District 3 elementary school children. Roettger is seeking to enter an early education PreK, Kindergarten or first grade classroom. “I have another year left before I graduate and the AAUW has helped me to do that,” Roettger said.
By contrast, Ruiz’ unhappy childhood shaped her educational journey. She grew up watching her mother endure domestic abuse, her alcoholic father drift in and out of her life and finding acceptance in an MS-13 gang-infested community in Los Angeles.
Ruiz has membership and leadership responsibilities in the Latino Student Union, Student Diversity Council. She is a founding ally member of Unidos, an organization for undocumented students, dreamers and students connected to the deferred action for childhood arrivals. “I come from a low income family and this scholarship means less stress on everyone” Ruiz said.
Brazil-born-and-raised Teixiera lived in the United States eight years before becoming a U.S. citizen in 2016. She has an associate degree in general studies and hopes to one day become a physician’s assistant.
Teixiera works in PPCC’s mobile food pantry that distributes food to in-need students and local citizens. Teixiera said her scholarship will help her continue her nursing studies at PPCC while covering tuition costs and provide daycare for her daughter. “I am honored to get this scholarship because it will help me with my finances and achieve my dreams,” Teixiera said.
AAUW President-Elect Kathryn Olson praised the recipients: “Each of these women have shown clear direction and goal achievement, already on this path to obtaining their degree.”
This year’s scholarship committee evaluated 18 applicants on academic excellence, financial need, personal presentation and letter of recommendation. Scholarship Committee Chair Char Gagne thanked everyone for supporting the program. “Because of your generous support, this program continues to grow and offer more in scholarships, and we thank you,” Gagne said.