Metro Weekly

LULAC Lambda awards scholarships to three D.C. high school students

Recipients were honored for their academic and extracurricular success, as well as their commitment to social justice

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From left to right: Zoe Valladares, Melissa Mayen Granados, and Brian Garcia – Photo: LULAC Lambda.

LULAC Lambda, the queer Latinx organization in the DMV, has awarded $1,000 scholarships to three high school seniors graduating from D.C. high schools.

As one of 1,000 chapters affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization. Because part of LULAC’s mission involved increasing access to education, it often encourages local chapters to sponsor scholarships for Latinos who wish to pursue higher education.

“For a third year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars enrolled in DC schools who come from our Queer Latinx community. Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Erik Rodriquez, the president of LULAC Lambda, said in a statement.

Rodriquez noted that the money for the scholarships was collected through fundraising efforts by the BHT Foundation, the DC Eagle, and the DC Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. 

All three recipients were selected based on their academic performance and their work in the social justice space, according to LULAC Lambda Vice President Bri Perez-Brennan.

Related: LULAC Lambda seeking applicants for its 2020 D.C. LGBTQ Latinx scholarship

Zoe Valladares, who is about to graduate from Washington Leadership Academy Public Charter School, was honored for her academic success and for leading an educational presentation to educate her peers to discourage them from using homophobic language. She plans to study computer science in college and is currently deciding among several options, including the University of Delaware, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rhode Island School of Design, Pace University, University of Maryland-College Park and the University of Maine.

“Advocacy has always been a value that I believe is important to share,” Valladares said in a statement. “As an Afro-Latina and a member of the LGBTQI+ community, there will be prejudice faced that needs to be fought against for others who cannot raise their voices — within and outside of these communities.”

Melissa Mayen Granados, a star soccer player and soon-to-be-graduate of Benjamin Banneker High School, was selected because of her academic and athletic accomplishments, as well as her extracurricular activities, such as volunteering at community centers to teach younger children how to read. She plans to study political science at the University of Connecticut next fall and would like to become an immigration lawyer.

“I’m a proud Latina. I’m also a proud LQBTQ+ member. I’m the daughter of two immigrants from El Salvador. I’m a strong activist that fights for LGBTQ+ rights, Latinx rights, Black rights, affordable housing, and more,” Granados said in a statement. “I’m the fighter that my people at home wouldn’t expect me to be. And soon enough, the people I fight for will be winners.”

Brian Garcia, of E.L. Haynes High School, is a National Honor Society member, editor of his school’s literary member, and a weekly tutor. He will attend American University in the fall and is deciding between majoring in physical therapy or psychology.

“I have a few things in mind, such as becoming a physical therapist or a therapist. I do know that in the future I want to be able to help those in need,” Garcia said. “Right now, I am working at Giant as a cashier, and I am helping those in need. I’m grateful I have the opportunity to help those in need during this pandemic we are all going through.”

For more information on LULAC Lambda or its scholarship program, visit www.lulaclambda.org/scholarship

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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