Mar 16, 2018

CAA Scholarship Students Focus on Academic Excellence in 2018

Academic Excellence Student 2018, with Dictionary
Academic Excellence Student 2018, with Dictionary

On January 27, 2018, CAA’s Education Committee presented twenty-four escuela and colegio scholarship students with their first term scholarship vouchers, and cheered them on for another successful year in class. Having graduated from high school our first scholarship student December, 2016, we are pleased that two students are on track to graduate in December 2018. This program supports students in poverty to earn a high school education; and for most families, a graduation represents the first in the family!  

And, we extended for the third year, a scholarship to our University of Costa Rica Social Worker (4th year student) who is again serving as the Scholarship Program Administrative Intern --- gaining valuable program administration and counseling experience with students and families. We are pleased that Fernanda again accepted this challenge.

At the awards event, the Committee presented six students with Academic Excellence Awards – five young women and one young man. These six students achieved GPA’s at or above 94 and had excellent conduct scores. Not surprisingly, four of the six were repeats from last year. All six got special recognition vouchers that were redeemed for books of their choice at a local book store. And, some of these students needed an English/Spanish Dictionary, so one of our book-loving Education Committee members was able to supply dictionaries that she acquired from book exchanges---see photo of student with dictionary, her father and CAA Education Committee members. With a bit of work, we hope to see 9-10 students in this elite group in 2019! 

Although not all of our students are hitting these high marks, we continue to encourage them to make the most of the public education available here in Costa Rica. One of the young men scheduled for graduation this December is an outstanding volleyball player whose star high school aged volleyball team competes in Costa Rica and in tournaments in Panama.  For this student to advance to the university level, he will need to pass the university entrance exams and keep his grades up  – although devoted to volleyball, his focus on academics is equally critical for his future university,  professional, or employment goals --- after he is no longer able to spike that ball, he will still need to be able to make a living!

Minimal family financial resources creates real challenges for these students to excel in class, competing against students from more advantaged families with better access to the Internet, computers, and homework assistance from better educated parents or tutors. But, these CAA scholarship students are putting in the effort necessary. With just a small amount of financial assistance, and by working harder, many of these students are able to level the playing field and achieve excellent grades. And, CAA has encouraged students to take advantage of an after-school tutoring and assistance program that is available to students in one specific barrio of San Ramon.

With the support of GlobalGiving donors and our volunteers in Costa Rica, the Community Action Alliance has been able to provide $3427 in educational support for the first half of school year 2018 and we expect to add 3 other late nomination students this month,  All total, the Education Committee has planned to provide almost $8,000 in educational support for the 2018 school year ending in December.

With your help, we are all contributing to a better tomorrow--one student at a time!      

CAA Education First Term 2018 Scholarship Class
CAA Education First Term 2018 Scholarship Class


Dec 21, 2017

Today's Determination Builds Tomorrow's Doctora

Mariela--full of determination and hope
Mariela--full of determination and hope
In this holiday season, we give thanks and are pleased to highlight the challenges and successes of one of our new scholarship students, a determined young woman, who we will call "Mariela". We give thanks to the drive and determination that this young woman demonstrates to her academics - and it is our good fortune to be able to meet her and help support her education. "Mariela" is 14 years old and has just completed her 7th grade courses at a Colegio (high school) in San Ramon, Costa Rica. The transition from elementary school into 7th grade in high school has been challenging for her, as it is for most students when moving into a larger student population where distractions are everywhere, courses are more rigorous, and the expectations are high. However, "Mariela" entered the CAA scholarship program in 2017 based on a nomination from the high school that she needed assistance. " Mariela" has been especially challenged because she is managing the transition to high school while dealing with two serious medial conditions: a heart defect that required surgery a few years ago, and a chronic immune system condition, systematic Lupus (erythematosus). Her symptoms of fatigue, fever, weight loss, arthritis, and skin lesions were diagnosed as Lupus in 2010, and "Mariela" struggled to maintain her focus on her studies while enduring the many symptoms of the condition. With the support of her mother, a single parent, "Mariela" has persevered to achieve an 84.3 grade point average for the 2017 school year, only 1.7 points lower than her 6th grade average. "Mariela's" academic grades, while not as high as she would like, are remarkable. When diagnosed with Lupus, her doctors advised her to withdraw from regular classes in school because of the care and absences that would be required to manage her disease. Despite the doctor's recommendations, "Mariela" has chosen to stay in regular classes rather than move into an alternate curriculum track. And, despite the challenges of her condition, "Mariela" is maintaining good grades, and is looking forward to the Christmas holidays, and the 2018 school year. "Mariela" has set her future career goals high - she hopes to be able to earn the grades to allow her to enter university and a Doctora of Forensic Medicine. This student needs our help to continue with her studies and fulfill her dreams. "Mariela"s experience is but one example of the power of education to change lives, to provide direction when otherwise challenged, and to channel the motivation of this very determined young women to dream forward to a more secure future. The support of our donors makes it possible for us to assist this delightful and focused young student, and 23 others who hope to follow the path of education to lead them out of poverty.
Sep 27, 2017

A Way Forward for "Oscar's" Education

Our social worker university intern has provided an update regarding the young 6th grade elementary CAA scholarship program student, a student that I will call "Oscar", that we reported on 90 days ago. "Oscar" is a very bright young student who has some real academic potential if he can just get a bit of help from his less than supportive mother, and from the community.

As you may recall from that last report, "Oscar's" father had been killed years ago in a drug shootout, and "Oscar's" mother had relocated to San Ramon to try to escape her past and find a better life for her 5 children.  After struggling for many years, "Oscar's" mother had decided she needed to try to relocate the family to Nicaragua to escape some very persistent and dangerous drug traffickers in the barrio. So, 90 days ago, our CAA Education Committee members were reluctantly having to say goodbye to "Oscar" as he prepared to leave Costa Rica and the CAA scholarship program.

It now appears that "Oscar's" family is not going to leave for Nicaragua, and "Oscar" may be able to continue his schooling here.  However, the home environment for Oscar and his 3 younger brothers and sister, is still very fragil, with the influence of drugs and drug dealers all through the neighborhood. "Oscar's" mother is pulled every day to rejoin her former life distributing drugs, and dangerous men are always around the house.

But, "Oscar" and his siblings now have some allies -- two social workers and a school psychologist, who are hopeful that their continued intervention with "Oscar" and his mother will finally get the family rehabilitated and in a better position.  In fact, they have alerted the child welfare agency, PANI, of the circumstances of these children, and PANI is pushing hard for the mother and the children to leave the immediate neighborhood to escape this environment of drug trafficking. "Oscar" and his mother are both participating in counseling now, and the social workers are hopeful that "Oscar's" mother will finally eliminate her destructive behaviors, and start focusing on the needs of her children.  "Oscar's" mother knows that she is very close to losing custody of her children if she does not quickly make a dramatic change of course. 

And, the social workers and our CAA program interns are working to find "Oscar" a secondary school location away from his barrio that will allow him to escape the pervasive culture of drugs and violence that pulls in so many victims of his age.  Thanks to the dedication of these professionals, "Oscar" may get to enroll in 7th grade, in a San Ramon area secondary school in another location, in January of 2018,  Hopefully, this will give him a good start on his high school education.

Unfortunately, "Oscar's" story is repeated over and over,  throughout the world --but, because of some timely intervention, perhaps "Oscar" will beat the odds and get to complete his high school education, and go on to be able to provide hope for some economic security for his family.  With education, there can be hope, and a solid education can provide the means to secure a better future!  

Let's all keep working for "Oscar" and give him the strength to pursue his educational goals and be a role model for the rest of his family.  

By sharing this update with our GlobalGiving supporters, we hope to let you know that your financial assistance is making a difference, one "Oscar" at a time.  Thanks you for your generous support for "Oscar" and his fellow CAA scholarship program participants.  Their education depends on your continuing support. 



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