Laura has graduated! She received her degree in Sociology from Hope College this past December. But Laura’s dream was to one day find a career as a social worker.

That’s why this past January she began the one year Masters of Social Work degree program at Grand Valley State University. She has needed to take out student loans for this next leg of her journey. But she’ll be able to manage that debt, because she was able to graduate from under-graduate debt free!

We’ll be waiting to hear that she has completed her Masters and has found that first job! Congratulations Laura!

Let’s remember Laura’s story:

When Laura began Hope College’s Trio Upward Bound, her confidence in herself was low. “I kept to myself,” Laura said. But the Upward Bound program began opening her eyes to new ways of being and seeing.

The staff and programs helped build her confidence and self-esteem. She began to believe what her parents had always believed — that she could be the first in her family to attend college.

During her years at Upward Bound she tried things she might not have otherwise tried.

  • Volunteering at a local hospital throughout high school.
  • Participating in a major fundraising event for Upward Bound.
  • Assisting with orientation for new Upward Bound students.
  • Tutoring middle school students twice a week through her senior year.

Laura was also part of a folklorico dance group called Los Gallos de Oro. From 8th grade to 10th grade, she danced traditional Mexican dances from different states in Mexico both locally and in other parts of the state.

Elizabeth Colburn, Director of Upward Bound had this to say about Laura:

“Laura has a desire to make a difference. She’s a natural leader with a big heart. Her maturity, positive attitude and commitment to her education are evident in all that she does.”

Laura’s career goal:

  • To receive a degree in Social Work — where she hopes to continue “seeking to make a difference.”

Laura’s advice for other students who might be, as she is, the first in her family to achieve a college education:

“People may tell you, you can’t make it, you can’t have your dream. Don’t believe them. Tell yourself you can and keep heading in the direction of that dream.”

To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit