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Soroptimists spotlight three students


Live Your Dream education grants recently were awarded to three Las Cruces women by Soroptimist International of Las Cruces. Winners were Domonique Janelewis, Christen Sanchez and Paola Viramontes.

The awards provide women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families with funds to offset costs of attaining post-secondary education or training, including expenses that most scholarships don’t cover. This year’s winners also received new laptop computers from Shannon and Maggie Reynolds.

This year’s cash awards were made possible by grants from the Devasthali Family Foundation Fund, administered by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and the John and Eunice Davidson Fund.

Winners were chosen from 16 applicants by a panel of community judges.

Janelewis will complete a bachelor’s degree in family and child science at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Spring 2021, with the goal of mentoring at-risk youth. A single mother who works full time at Families and Youth, Inc., she was chosen for the award for her determination to complete her education despite obstacles. The award will help Janelewis complete her final semester on schedule. Janelewis will advance to the regional level of the international award program where she is eligible for additional educational funding.

Christen Sanchez is a full-time educational assistant in the Las Cruces Public Schools. After leaving an abusive relationship, she was able to rekindle her dream and take up the path that she had started more than seven years ago to become a kindergarten teacher. She is currently studying early childhood education at Doña Ana Community College (DACC). Her ultimate goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a certified kindergarten teacher. Sanchez works full time to provide for two children.

Viramontes is studying early childhood education at DACC while working full time as a pre-K teacher in a local program for homeless and near-homeless children. She has availed herself of professional development opportunities at her workplace and thus has advanced in the field of early childhood education. Her ultimate goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Viramontes plans to use the award to help pay bills and cover expenses that come with being a single parent raising teenagers.

Selection of winners was based on the candidates’ demonstrated ability to work toward goals, their resiliency in overcoming obstacles, financial need, and their desire to improve their lives, those of their family members and of the community. This year’s judges were Christine Rivera, Marianne Lappin and Lisa Lucca.

Founded in 1970, Soroptimist of Las Cruces is part of Soroptimist International of the Americas, a global volunteer organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls through community-based programs leading to social and economic empowerment.

For more information, visit www.silcnm.org.

Soroptimist International of Las Cruces, Domonique Janelewis, Christen Sanchez, Paola Viramontes