Meet Katherine’s history I was born on May 13, 2000 in Chalatenango El Salvador. My mother is Alicia Guadalupe Rivera. At only 15 years old she gave birth to me. We lived in extreme poverty. My father decided to flee to America leaving my mother and me. This was a big challenge for my mom to raise a child alone. She decided to live at my grandmother’s house where we had barely enough to eat most days . My grandmother was very poor, living in an adobe house with a dirt floor, open fire pit with no running water or electricity. She just recently passed away. My mother did not complete high school as she now had me to raise. So she had to start looking for work. She found work cleaning houses. That job was a two hour bus ride from my grandmother’s house. She did this for two years while my grandmother took care of me.Then we moved in with my dad’s family who lived in the town of San Antonio. That helped us a little more. My mom found small jobs but finally found a full-time job at San Jose Parish in the town of Agua Caliente. The parish priest at that time was Padre Rafael Fuentes. I was five years old.From that moment every changed!! Me and grandmother, Benicia Pineda Me and my grandfather, José Aguilar The town priest, Father Rafael Fuentes, gave us the opportunity to have a stable place to live. My mother agreed to be the Parish Cook and I began to attend the public school in Agua Caliente. Padre Fuentes also has a house in San Salvador, the capitol. At this house several college age students lived while they attended classes. Most of these students came from the rural areas and since there are no dorms at the universities in San Salvador this was a place to live while paying very little for room and board. This is another way that Padre Fuentes has helped his people. At the age of seven it was decided by my mom and Padre Fuentes that I should begin to live in San Salvador with the other students. i began to attend the first grade at the local public school. The only problem with this is that I had to be in San Salvador alone without my mom. She had decided that she needed to stay in Agua Caliente and continue to work there. Because of this I could only see her on weekends. This was very difficult for me as I really missed her. I did poorly in my studies that year because of that and also the classes were more demanding. At the end of the second grade my mom and Padre Fuentes decided to enroll me in a private Catholic school The name was I stayed at this school and graduated in Nov. 2018 with a 3.5 grade point average. These were very rewarding years for me as I adjusted to this good school and by the 6th grade was recognized as being a leader and I loved to participate in the Spelling Bee contests. What also helped, was that it was decided that my mom should come and live in the house Padre has in San Salvador. She did this when I was 12 years old. That really made my happy and secure. Also during these years Padre Fuentes decided to adopt 4 more children that he has raised like his own and I feel are my brother and sisters. All four of these children also came from very poor circumstances. So we are a family. My mom stayed at this house and raised all of is from that time on. Other students continued to live in the house to attend the local university. During my high school years, I put all my effort and dedication into my studies and I got recognized as the best student for the final three years, In addition to that I was elected as Student Council president in 2018 and managed to promote better development for the institution. Today I continue to help with my knowledge and initiative the institution that gave me the opportunity to study and demonstrate my best virtues as a person. This is my family! From the left: Andrea, Rodrigo, Alejandra. On the middle: Padre Rafael Fuentes and me. On the right, Lisbeth and Julissa. My graduation from High school My official photo from high school Why is studying so important to me? First, my mom, who as a child, barely 15 years old when I was born struggled to give me a better future. She worked day and night to give me what I needed to survive and not feel excluded from other children. Secondly, Padre Rafael ,who gave my mom and me a home and raised me like his own daughter, also trusted my abilities and sought the best opportunities for me and my mom. My mom finally got her GED and then graduated from a cooking school in San Salvador. Making them proud is my goal: to be the best that I can be so that they feel that all the sacrifices they have made for me have been worth it. Being able to be proud of my country and prove that despite one not having all the advantages of the rich that I can become successful and believe that anything is possible if one is determined to work hard to achieve it. So now with the help of many people I have been accepted as a student at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. With the help of Padre Fuentes and other good people at that school I was been given a full academic scholarship. The plan is to begin my studies on August 2020. I hope by going to such a great university I will be able to develop skills that will continue to help myself and my country become self-sufficient. Currently I am studying my English skills and working with the US Coordinator Jim Nugent. Although my tuition is covered, we must raise the funds for room and board. Padre Fuentes and Jim Nugent will be working on this during this coming year. Any help that you can do to help me achieve my goals is appreciated. For all of those that help support my dream I would like to keep in contact with you during the coming year via Facebook or other social media. We can work the details out later. Thanks again.