Every year our organization selects one applicant from our identity-based scholarships for the Inspire Award, founded in recognition of Pedro Gamino's story. In an applicant pool close to 500, we are honored to announce Ileana Soria Reyes (She/Her) as our 2023 Inspire Awardee.
This award celebrates extraordinary students in the Central Valley who's knowledge is tied to identity and lived experiences. They share their equally vulnerable, powerful, and intelligent lens of the world, shedding light to the necessary transformations needed in our education systems, and in our communities, in order to create accessible pathways towards higher education.
The Inspire Award serves a narrative change; a change in how we define scholar, a change in how we structure our classrooms, and a change in how we dream of and envision revolutionary educational spaces.
The Inspire Awardee's story not only creates change across educational systems, but also within our own organization. Whether that be a complete revamping of our scholarship requirements in order to be accessible to undocumented and justice impacted students like Pedro; or a need to advocate, support, and provide resources to community college students like Juan; or implementing language inclusive services for non-English speaking students like Karina... the Inspire Awardee teaches us how we can do better.
This year, the Inspire Award comes with a cash prize of $6,000, individual recognition on our social platforms, and continuous support from the Central Valley Scholars team.
Ileana is an exemplary mother, human, and scholar, and shares with us lessons on how institutions of academia can better support single mothers, women of color, and immigrant students alike. In her words she shares, "I am not your typical out of high school college student, I was undocumented, a domestic violence survivor, and a widow that decided to become her best version. I see myself being a leader and an inspiration for other older women of color from a small town in the Central Valley."
"I am not your typical out of high school college student, I was undocumented, a domestic violence survivor, and a widow that decided to become her best version. I see myself being a leader and an inspiration for other older women of color from a small town in the Central Valley."
Ileana is a recent graduate of Merced Community College and has transferred to CSU Stanislaus to obtain her Bachelor's Degree in Leadership Studies.