Siblings Weley and Wendy Lin did not speak a word of English when they started school in first grade. Mandarin was the only language they knew. Their parents did not understand English either, so the young girls didn’t have the luxury of receiving any help at home with their homework.
Once the girls became proficient in English, the roles between parents and children were reversed at home. The twins took on adult responsibilities at a very young age – writing checks, contacting the banks, and translating for their parents.
Today, the Lin sisters are both ranked #2 in the Manteca High School graduating class of 2013 with a 4.45 GPA. In the fall, they will enter college and plan to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Each was awarded a $750 scholarship for college from the Manteca Soroptimists.
Their inspirational story was just one of several uplifting tales of human endeavor that were highlighted during the recent Manteca Soroptimist’s annual scholarship awards when the service club presented a total of $12,500 to 11 graduating high school seniors in the Manteca Unified School District, plus three special awards.
Like the Lin sisters, East Union High School senior Luz Aguirre and Angelica Jazmin Vargas Rodriguez of Sierra High faced seemingly insurmountable language barriers, on top of a host of cultural challenges – when they started elementary school. Both girls were born in Mexico. Aguirre was seven years old when his parents, Celso and Maria, brought their family to the United States in search of greener pastures. Rodriquez was just was just a wee 13-month-old.
Learning to speak English was the biggest challenge that Rodriguez and Aguirre faced. In the case of Rodriguez, she first became acquainted with simple English words during her first year in the Head Start program. By first grade, she understood most of what people were saying. And if she encountered a word she did not understand, she never hesitated to ask her friend during recess. But she didn’t stop there. As she was learning new English words and their meaning at school, she also taught her parents by sharing the words that she learned that day when she got home.
Her efforts and hard work paid off. Rodriguez completed three honors English classes and two AP (Advanced Placement) English classes receiving As and Bs from her teachers. In the process, she became a role model for her younger siblings ages 4, 7, and 15.
Aguirre, for her part, became proficient in both English and Spanish through sheer perseverance. Her determination to become successful in school is evident in her GPA of 3.71 which earned her a consistent place in the honor roll throughout her four years in high school.
Despite the difficult cultural and language challenges that they faced, Rodriguez and Aguirre showed to everyone how an indomitable spirit can move mountains of hardships. Each received a $1,000 college scholarship from the Manteca Soroptimists.
The story of Bianca Rosas was not one that involved language difficulties. During the start of her junior year in high school, her family suffered tragic loss and a major crisis. As a result, she was unable to complete her studies that year. But she was determined to graduate on schedule. To do that, she enrolled at New Vision High School in Weston Ranch so that she could catch up academically. She succeeded.
She plans to study nursing after graduating in May. She will be the first in her family to attend college.
In spite of all the difficulties that fell on her young lap, on top of helping take care of her five younger siblings after school – she is the oldest child in the family – Rosas was still able to get involved in the community to help the less fortunate. She still managed to squeeze into her part-time job and responsibilities at home to volunteer by distributing food baskets to needy families during the holidays.
To help Rosas fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse, the Manteca Soroptimists presented her with a $500 scholarsship.