The future is looking burnt orange for a graduating senior at Hector J. Garcia Early College High School Senior Sarai Sepulveda. The Class of 2023 student was awarded the $48,000 Impact Scholarship from the University of Texas at Austin Monday morning.
With a round of applause to an exciting start of the week, Sepulveda was met with LISD administration eager to surprise her with amazing news.“It is the most relieving and rewarding feeling to know that my family and I no longer have to worry about getting me through college. It is true what people say about getting a weight lifted off their chest, except I got to experience it a little early this time and I will be forever grateful for that,” Sepulveda said.
According to the UT website, students are selected for the scholarship through a holistic review process. A student’s demonstrated leadership, proven academic success, financial need, perseverance and commitment to their schools and communities are all factors that are evaluated when selecting Impact Scholars.
Sepulveda leads the way with heart as an active member in school extracurricular activities and the community. She has participated in the National Honor Society, Student Council, Phoenix Mentors Program, UIL Literary Criticism, and UIL Ready Writing. Additionally, she volunteers her time as a Learn-To-Be Tutor, GECHS UIL Invitational Meet, Laredo Sister Cities Festival, Make a Difference Day, HEB’s Feast of Sharing, Frequent Organization of GECHS Events, and Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
The scholarship program, which provides $12,000 per year to fund the cost of a UT Austin education, was created for students from across the state of Texas who are making an impact in their local communities.
“I met Sarai through one of our college fairs. She approached me regarding more information on admission. I called her last week just to make sure there wasn’t anything pending in regards to her application. She did seem a little concerned over the financial aspect as far as tuition covers and when she mentioned that to me, I already knew she had been awarded the scholarship,” Admissions Advisor for UT Maira Speir said. “It was hard keeping the secret but I reassured her everything would work out. I knew this would help her a lot. She’s going to go on and do great things.”
GECHS Principal Margarita Taboada describes Sepulveda as a hardworking student. Dually enrolled as a GECHS and Texas A&M International University student, Sarai will be graduating with more than 40 college hours. “We are very proud of Sarai. I found out about the news last week. We invited her parents and grandparents but they didn’t know how much money she was receiving. It was a grand surprise overall. This scholarship is going to a very deserving student. She is well on her way to earning her degree and pursuing all her dreams. GECHS congratulates her. UT is going to get a great student who is going to make them very proud.”
Sepulveda plans on majoring in English and becoming a professional writer. “I was in pure shock and I still am. One does not normally expect for their 8:00 a.m. calculus class to be interrupted by their principal, counselor, LISD officials, family, and a UT representative/admissions counselor, yet that was exactly what happened! I was and am overjoyed to have received the Impact scholarship. It is the best thing that could happen to me right now as I end my high school chapter,” she said. “Thank you to my school and family for their constant support these last few years, it is always a good feeling to have people behind you who truly believe in you. I am really excited to begin my journey in UT and live up to their expectations by changing the world. Hook ‘em!”