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Lucia Isabel Palacio and Valerie del Plain recently received $500 Soroptimist International of Las Cruces (SILC) Dream It, Be It (DIBI) scholarships.
The awards recognize young women who participated in the Soroptimist Dream It, Be It conferences while in high school, set major educational or career goals for themselves and have worked to pursue those goals, SILC said in a news release.
Palacio is a freshman at New Mexico State University, with plans to study education or biology. She is interested ultimately in pursuing a career in optometry, the news release said. Palacio graduated in May 2021 from the online Pecos Connection Academy as a member of the National Honor Society. She was a member of the Doña Ana Youth Choir, participated in ballet folklorico, jazz and contemporary dance programs, and helped teach dance classes to younger children.
Palacio said the advice she received at the DIBI conference was empowering and left her feeling encouraged about the future.
“What stuck with me the most came from the other girls,” Palacio said. “I learned about their struggles. Some faced domestic abuse. Some worked to help earn money for their families. Some felt stressed about school, and some were going to be the first person in their family to go to college. I realized that I’m not alone.”
Palacio says that the DIBI scholarship will complement other grants and loans to cover her college costs without unduly stressing her family’s finances.
“Overall, I cannot wait to see where life takes me and what I manage to accomplish with each opportunity I’m given,” Palacio said. “I know that being a woman, I will be faced with many challenges, but I have already come this far. I am not going to let the world crush me. I am going to work to just make it stronger.”
Del Plain, a 2020 graduate of Oñate High School, is a sophomore at Brigham Young University-Idaho where she is studying music education with an emphasis in choral music. Del Plain’s goal is to become a music teacher. The DIBI scholarship will be used to pay for the private voice lessons required of music education majors.
Del Plain said she attended the DIBI conference to better prepare for higher education and life, and learned how to manage money and how to manage anxiety when faced with obstacles in pursuit of achieving her goals.
“When I become a teacher, I want to encourage my students to do what they love,” Del Plain said. “I think I can also help encourage students who are of color. Being a person of color myself, I wish I had more role models who could relate to me more. I want to be that role model in a student’s life. With the life experiences I have, I believe that I have what is needed to help so many students.”
The annual Soroptimist Dream It, Be It Conference in Las Cruces introduces high-school girls to life skills that will help them overcome obstacles to success in educational programs and in professional life, the SILC news release said. The conferences are free and open to high-school students in southern New Mexico and far west Texas. All conference attendees are eligible to apply for the DIBI scholarship for six years after completing the program. The scholarship was established to encourage high-school girls to pursue additional education or training after graduation and to help them complete their educational goals.