Jesus Espinoza’s dream became easier to reach Wednesday — a night when he also became a role model for students whose first language isn’t English.
The 14-year-old Connolly Middle School eighthgrader from Tempe was one of two Valley teens chosen for a $7,500 college scholarship in a program aimed at reducing the dropout rate among Hispanic students.
Espinoza, a student with a 4.0 grade point average and an artist who spends his free time planting a garden with a former Connolly teacher, said he will use the money from the Fulton Homes Building Foundations scholarship to study arts or computers at Arizona State University.
Espinoza’s perfect grades, despite the challenge of learning English and taking other courses, make him the type of excelling student Fulton Homes wanted to make an example of with the scholarship, said Fulton Homes spokeswoman Rosaria Glasco.
Eva Torres, 14, of Phoenix also received the scholarship for her work in a young entrepreneurs club and raising money for her school’s yearbook and field trip. She hopes to become a crime lab technician.
"We want to improve the lives of these children," Glasco said. "The dropout rate is really so much higher with students of Spanish-speaking descent."
Twenty other students nominated for the scholarship were given $50 at the ceremony at the La Posada Resort in Scottsdale.