Yessica is a 2014 graduate of West Ottawa High School and has been accepted at Western Michigan University.

In the 10th grade, Yessica found her way to Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and their Adelante program whose goal is to teach students leadership skills, public speaking skills and encourage them to be community service leaders.

It was in Adelante meetings that Yessica heard speakers from the minority community tell their stories, speak about the challenges they faced and how they overcame those challenges to become successful in life and career.

LAUP taught me that “I am not alone,” said Yessica. And they taught me “Se c’est pude!” Cesar Chavez’s famous quote: “Yes — it is possible!”

Possible to dream of college, and possible to try for highly selective scholarships like the Medallion Scholarship at Western Michigan. “You had to qualify,” Yessica said, “based on your GPA and your ACT scores.” Then you went to Western along with some 800 applicants who took a test and wrote an essay. Of those 800, forty were called back for interviews. Of those 40, only twenty were given the maximum annually renewable scholarship of $12,500 — covering complete tuition.

Still — there were books and room and board to pay. And that is where the Holland Zeeland Promise will step in. The Holland/Zeeland Promise, a “last dollar” scholarship, will offer Yessica annually whatever amount remains to cover books, room and board.

Roberto Jara, former director of LAUP had this to say about Yessica:

“Yessica has a strong inner drive to excel in her studies! But more importantly, she possesses a clear moral compass and drive to serve others and her community. Along with her kind, engaging personality these qualities will make her an asset wherever she chooses to pursue her career in the future. My hope is that she chooses to pursue that future here in Holland!”

Yessica’s goals at Western Michigan?

  • To enter the Nursing Program at Western Michigan
  • To become a nurse and hopefully one day a nurse practitioner — helping people who are medically under proved for.

Yessica’s advice for other students who face challenges but dream of a college or a continuing education degree?

“Don’t forget, you don’t always have to take steps forward to be making progress. Don’t always be so focused on where you have to get to. Sometimes you need to give yourself credit that you’ve come this far.”

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