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2021 Inspire Award Winner

It is our honor to announce Juan Carlos Mosqueda Rosales, gender pronouns he/him/his, as the recipient of our 2021 Inspire Award.

The Central Valley Scholars Inspire Award, created in light of Pedro Gamino's story, recognizes extraordinary students who find the will to continue their education despite various hardships they face. We recognize that Central Valley students are often rejected by other educational organizations, not because they lack potential, but simply due to biases they carry against historically marginalized communities.

At Central Valley Scholars, we understand that the hardships which an individual may face during their educational journey can appear an insurmountable hurdle that inevitably interferes with academic performance. Rather than centralizing on academic history, we focus solely on a student’s potential to succeed.

This year, this award comes with a cash prize of $3,000 and continuous themtorship and support from the Central Valley team. Central Valley Scholars hopes to continue providing future support for students like Juan, both monetarily and resourceful. With the appropriate resources and support, Central Valley students can and will overcome the obstacles life has thrown their way.

Juan's Story

Juan Carlos Mosqueda Rosales still remembers how entered this country: riding in the back seat of a stranger’s car at eight years old, trusting that he and his sister would be safely turned over to the hands of his parents. It's fitting, he feels, as he thinks about it now: “being undocumented and navigating the hurdles of life in America as a low-income individual certainly feels like riding on the backseat of a car--on the backseat of life--relying on the progressive nature of policy makers, and the fair tides of economic growth to make it through.” It’s extremely disempowering, he feels, being unable to make full and meaningful decisions for himself. Being undocumented can limit how far one flies, while being poor can limit one from taking off the ground.

“To say that it’s been frustrating would be understatement. I know that I am an individual with vast potential, but my social location--and my particular circumstances--have made it hard for me to make it anywhere.” After earning three associate degrees from College of the Sequoias, and briefly studying literature at the University of California in Santa Cruz, Juan Carlos now finds himself at CSU Fresno studying City & Regional Planning, still in the process of earning his first Bachelor’s degree.

“I think the reason why I’ve struggled to make it through my undergraduate education is because I don’t know what’s on the other side. I have no point of reference for what’s to be achieved when I earn my degree. Do I immediately find a job, get married and live happily ever after? I don’t know.... My parents are field workers. They wake up early, come home tired, yawn and complain about body aches and lack of sleep, then repeat the same routine the following day. That’s what I know. And so, reflecting on my educational career, yes, part of the reason why I haven’t “finished” has been because I’ve jumped from one field of study to another (which goes back to having no people in my life to offer a point of reference), but I think the real reason why I haven’t finished is that I’m scared: scared of the unknown, scared of the trials and tribulations I’ll have to face as an undocumented, first generation, bisexual, LatinX man out in the real word, which no one in my family has ever had to.”

“In addition to this, I've been battling a particular heaviness of the heart that hasn't helped my momentum. I miss my home, I miss my grandmother. Both are a country away--a border away--and I’m unable to access them. They exist only in my mind now, and that’s splitting me apart. There’s a certain element to the identity crisis that results from being unable to fully tap into one’s own culture--when the cultural exports (such as books, art, and foods) are no longer able to satisfy the needs of the individual, the undocumented immigrant--and that’s a spiritual void. In turn, that spiritual void manifests itself into feelings of ungroundedness, and into a state of freefall, of being truly in limbo. Meanwhile, life is still happening and you’re asked to keep in pace with everybody else.”

“I really don’t know what’s kept me pushing through the challenges, especially when others in my shoes have probably given up, and understandably so. Perhaps it’s the understanding that only through moving forward can I go back, or maybe it’s the realization that by embracing the opportunity to achieve something greater than what my family has ever had the chance to, I can validate the efforts and sacrifices of my antepasados. Whatever the factor might be, the recognition of organizations such as Central Valley Scholars also helps to remind me that there’s people out there who see me, and my struggles, and want to see me overcome and succeed. I am forever grateful.”

Along with the $3,000 award, Juan received an award plaque and celebratory check.

Watch Juan's reaction to winning the award below.

Want to sponsor next year's Inspire Award and support more students like Juan? Donate.



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