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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton students receive Rising Star Student, Dr. Patrice Johnson Superintendent’s Scholarships

Jun 06, 2023 09:02AM ● By Morgan Olsen

 Two Riverton High School students have been selected among several applicants and awarded scholarships by the Jordan Education Foundation. 

The Rising Star Student Scholarship focuses on awarding students who have shown resilience through difficult times in their life. Each year, principals and staff from each high school in the Jordan School District nominate one graduating senior from their school to receive a $2,000 scholarship, courtesy of the Jordan Education Foundation, to a college or University of their choice. 

“These students have amazing stories,” Mike Haynes said, Jordan Education Foundation’s executive director. “We are grateful to be able to help them 

 further their education by awarding them financially.”

One student, Linda Curtis, has been awarded the Rising Star Student Scholarship by the Jordan School District for her ability to overcome significant hardship in her life. 

“Linda Curtis had a very difficult childhood,” the banquet program stated. “Due to her circumstances, and with the help of a woman from her church, Linda was able to gain emancipation as a minor. She currently lives with a foster family who has given her love, encouragement and a break from the fears of her earlier life.”

Because of her past, Curtis needed to improve her grades to be considered for college acceptance and 

 has worked hard to do so during her time as a student at Riverton High School. She now looks forward to using this scholarship money to attend nursing school.

“I never even thought about graduation,” Curtis said. “I did not even think it was possible. Now, I will graduate with my Medical Assistant certificate and I will go on to nursing school.”

Curtis worked hard to pass her Medical Assistant state board exams. She has been accepted to six different colleges and is planning to attend Salt Lake Community College and then transfer to finishing nursing school.

Several other students throughout the Riverton area also received the $2,000 Rising Star Student 

 Scholarship award. These students include Kevin Solano Rocha from Bingham High School, Michael Stratton from Herriman High School and Bianca Cardozofrom Mountain Ridge High School. 

Rocha moved to Utah from California two years ago and is a first-generation college student. He has shown significant improvement in his grades and credit recovery during his time at Bingham High School. His principal was proud to nominate him for the Rising Star Student Scholarship and feels he is very deserving of the award.

Stratton overcame hardship during his early childhood until his sister and brother-in-law took guardianship of him and his siblings. He wears a wristband that says “my life is worth living” and is passionate about computers and technology. 

 “Computers give me the ability to create anything I want, regardless of my circumstances or surroundings,” Stratton said. “Computers have been my stability, my escape and my connection to a world outside my own.”

When things would get difficult for him during his childhood, Stratton collected old computers and spent hours repairing them in order to sell them.

“It was a place where I would let all of my stress fade away into the work that had to be done,” Stratton said. “This is a very important part of my life because it gave me a better understanding of the inner workings of a computer.”

Stratton plans to further his education studying computer science. 

Cardozo was raised in Utah by a single mother but had moved back and forth between Utah and Brazil several times by the time she was in high school. She showed resilience as she fought through struggles with her mental health and an eating disorder during her time at Mountain Ridge High School. 

“After moving back to Utah, where she found additional support and stability, Bianca was able to find new hope and motivation,” the banquet program stated. “She turned things around her senior year academically and has shown resilience in recovery from an eating disorder and is continuously working to improve her mental health, striving to live a healthy and whole life.”

Cardozo plans to attend Utah Valley University and study forensic science. 

The Dr. Patrice Johnson Superintendent’s Scholarship is awarded to a student who has shown significant effort in demonstrating leadership and perseverance in search of the American Dream. This year’s recipient was Riverton High School senior Brenda Esquivel. 

“Brenda Esquivel was born in Mexico City,” the banquet program stated. “She was held back in kindergarten because the school required a minimum level of English which she didn’t have. Her parents invested time, effort and work into teaching her English even though they were both strangers to the language. The first phrase Brenda remembers learning was ‘I don’t speak English, sorry.’ Eventually, she attended a trilingual school learning French, Spanish and English.”

Esquivel and her family moved to Utah from Mexico in 2019. As she enrolled at Riverton High School, Esquivel knew her education was important, and she strived to keep her grades up while helping her family adjust to their new life in Utah. 

“She is taking challenging classes in school and continues to practice all three languages, even obtaining the Seal of Bi-literacy for both French and Spanish,” the banquet program stated. “She has been involved in multiple clubs and shown leadership in Latinos in Action, FBLA and DECA.”

Esquivel plans to attend BYU this fall to study psychology and looks forward to applying to law school upon her college graduation. λ