A local high school student has been awarded a scholarship that pays tuition for low-income students who are first in their family to attend college. Ariadne Martinez Villanueva, a senior at Hightower High School, was one of two students selected for this year’s Thoreau Dream Scholarship.
The scholarship, which was started 16 years ago by the Thoreau Campus of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Richmond, has sent 52 kids to college over the years. Funded completely by donations, the Thoreau Dream Scholarship pays for two years of community college and two years at a university or for a technical education and certification if that is what the student chooses.
Villanueva, who has worked part-time for a wedding planner while in high school, wants to study hospitality administration with plans of becoming an event coordinator.
“Our goal when we started this scholarship was to help lift entire families out of poverty and into the middle class,” scholarship chairman Valerie Tolman said. “These kids come from families and neighborhoods where hardly anyone even considers college as an option. We think that education past high school is a path to a better life. We hope sending some of the students to college will have a ripple effect, causing other kids to see college as a possibility for them, too.”