ROYAL CITY — Fatima Cortez said she was prepared for any outcome, and she stayed up until midnight on notification day.
“I saw my clock read 12 a.m., and I decided to wait an extra minute before checking my email, preparing myself for the news I would receive,” she wrote. “I saw that I had an email from Dell, and the headline read, ‘Congratulations!’ My heart stopped beating for a minute and I had to read the email again.”
Fatima was one of two Royal High School students to receive a scholarship through the Dell Scholars program. Fatima and Elizabeth Guadarrama each will receive $20,000 college scholarships.
“I immediately woke up my parents to tell them the great news,” Fatima wrote.
Both Fatima and Elizabeth are seniors at RHS and are in the Running Start program at Big Bend Community College, said Tiffany Sukola, BBCC communications coordinator. Both girls will graduate in June with a BBCC associate degree as well as a high school diploma.
The two are among 500 students nationwide to receive Dell scholarships. The scholarships come with money, support services, tutoring, a laptop and textbook credits.
Both are part of BBCC’s Trio program, which helps support high school students who want to continue their education after high school. Trio-Upward Bound director Anita DeLeon said both will be the first in their families to attend college. The challenges they faced “have not prevented them from setting high expectations and goals,” DeLeon said.
Both are active in extracurricular activities, Fatima as flute section leader in the RHS band and Elizabeth as the 2018 Miss Royal City. Elizabeth is an Alexander Hamilton Scholar as well. The five-year Alexander Hamilton program provides mentorship and support for participants during their college careers.
Fatima said she plans to attend Washington State University, with the goal of a broadcast journalism degree. Elizabeth plans to attend St. Martin’s University in Lacey, pursuing a degree in mathematics.
The Dell Scholarship program is part of the foundation set up by company founder Michael Dell. It provides financial and other kinds of support for students who have faced and overcome obstacles while working toward an education.