By Jayme Taylor, Communication Manager
The dream of attending college has become a reality for four Clover Park School District students who earned Act Six scholarships to attend Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and Northwest University.
Three Clover Park High School seniors—James Mamerto, Jesus Rosales and Miguel Smith—will attend PLU. Lakes High School senior Cindy Ramirez will attend Kirkland’s Northwest University. In total, 48 high school seniors from the Puget Sound area and Spokane earned full-need scholarships, partnered with college preparation assistance, peer support and leadership training.
“This scholarship means everything to me, and I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to attend college—and to attend PLU of all places,” said Mamerto, who will study nursing; a profession he chose after his younger brother recently developed an autoimmune disorder that left him paralyzed. “My brother’s medical problems devastated our family emotionally and financially, so attending a private college was out of the question. It’s still very surreal to think that I was selected and that I’ll get the chance to study medicine to help people the way that the doctors and nurses helped my brother. They are an inspiration to me.”
Collectively, the four recipients aspire for careers in medicine, business, ministry and engineering. They are athletes, members of the National Honor Society, Junior Air Force ROTC, mentors, volunteers and leaders. They are actively involved in service organizations and churches and work in the community. They were honored at a community celebration at Mount Tahoma High School Feb. 10.
Act Six was launched in 2002 by the Northwest Leadership Foundation in Tacoma. Since the program’s inception, 21 cadres of ethnically diverse and mostly first-generation, low-income scholars have enrolled at seven Northwest colleges and universities. Fifteen students from Clover Park and Lakes have earned scholarships to PLU and to Whitworth, Gonzaga, Northwest and Trinity Lutheran Universities, where they’ve studied medicine, journalism, education, biology, sociology and marketing.
“When I opened my selection letter and found out that I’d be attending PLU, I was stunned and elated. My grandma thought there was an earthquake because I was jumping up and down—then she cried,” smiled Smith. “The support and guidance I received from my family and my teachers got me to this point. I am beyond thankful.”
James Mamerto, Clover Park High School
James Mamerto has only lived in Washington for four years, moving here from the Philippines with his family in 2007. Upon his arrival, Mamerto worked hard to perfect his English and make friends at his new high school, where it didn’t take long for him to fit in. Today, he is a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Knowledge Bowl, Key Club and the Math, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) club. As one of his elective classes, Mamerto assists the Life Skills teacher in working with special education students. The relationships Mamerto has built with the students impacted him so greatly that he dedicated his senior project to the formation of a local chapter of Aktion Club, a Kiwanis-sponsored club for adults with disabilities. Mamerto hopes that the club will inspire Life Skills students to return to Clover Park as mentors after they’ve graduated.
Cindy Ramirez, Lakes High School
The decision to attend Christian-based Northwest University came easily to Cindy Ramirez, who is actively involved in her church and has aspirations to work in youth ministry after college. She’ll be the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college and she’s proud that she’ll have the chance to set an example to the younger members of her family. Ramirez is captain of the Lakes High School cheer squad, secretary of the Key Club and an Ignite Mentor. She was still at school when she got the news that she’d been selected as an Act Six scholar. “Holding back the tears was tough,” said Ramirez. “I was able to wait until I got home, and then cried tears of joy with my family. We are all so grateful.”
Miguel Smith, Clover Park High School
Miguel Smith has dreams of running his own business and is intrigued by strategy development and enterprise marketing, which he plans to study at PLU. He’s a leadership student at Clover Park, member of NHS, the performance studio choir and the school’s Super Fan Club. Outside of school, he works part time at Safeway and devotes at least six hours a week to karate—Smith is a black belt and mentors other young martial arts students. He credits his academic successes to the self discipline and motivation required to excel in karate.
Jesus Rosales, Clover Park High School
Jesus Rosales used just one word to describe how he felt about receiving the Act Six scholarship, “safe.” “I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend PLU, or any four-year university without this scholarship,” said Rosales, whose parents are currently paying to put his older brother through college. “Act Six restored my hope for my college future.” Rosales, who moved with his family to the United States when he was 10, plans to become an engineer after graduating from PLU. His high school course load is packed with advanced placement and science courses. He’s the Wing Commander—the top leadership position for a student—of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, and he plays trumpet in the band. He credits the AFJROTC program for giving him the opportunity to grow as a leader and person.
The Application Process
The scholarship application consists of three phases. To start, students complete an online application, answer essay questions and gather letters of recommendation. After an initial screening, top applicants are invited to participate as candidates in Phase II.
During the second phase, candidates participate in a half-day event where they demonstrate their academic and leadership potential while working together to address a complex community issue. Then, a committee considers each candidate’s performance on both the written and interactive phases to name approximately 20 semifinalists for each partner college.
As part of Phase III, semifinalists travel to the college for which they were selected to experience campus life as they participate in a four-part evaluation process that includes a personal interview, an on-site writing task, academic seminar discussions, and group problem-solving activities. Finally, each partner college names its finalists and students have the opportunity to agree to attend and to participate fully in the seven-month training program.
For more information about the Act Six program, visit www.actsix.org.