Students earn scholarships for balancing school, jobs

posted May 11, 2012, 7:27 AM by Willbern Scholarship   [ updated May 11, 2012, 7:27 AM ]


With graduation nearing, five seniors from area high schools have received scholarships for their achievements in school and the working world.

"Five students from Bellaire, Westbury and Lamar high schools were given $2,000 each from the Helen and Clyde Willbern Scholarship Foundation, a group that awards seniors for holding jobs while succeeding in school," said Steve Davis, member of the foundation's board of trustees. Davis said the scholarship is named after Helen Willbern, who passed away eight years ago, and her husband Clyde Willbern, who is 92 and lives with family in Dallas.

In the mid-1980s, the couple gave a large contribution for the scholarship which was originally started by the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce. According to Davis, it was Clyde Willbern who wanted to recognize students that worked for what they had.

"Clyde (Willbern) was an attorney for Getty Oil, so he did well. But he always had a lot of respect for kids who worked and were still able to achieve their grades in school," Davis said. "We carry on his vision today."

The scholarship is now in conjunction with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Davis said the nine-member board of trustees take applications from students in internship programs at area high schools where they attend school and work 15 to 20 hours a week.

For scholarship recipient Guadalupe Reyes, 17, working isn't an option. She applied for the Willbern scholarship when her father was laid off from his job more than a year ago. She has two younger sisters and often pitches in financially.

"I don't really have a way to pay for tuition because only my mom is working right now," Reyes said. "This scholarship is really important because I've tried saving up from my job, but it's not going to be enough."

Vanessa Alfaro, 18, also said the scholarship will be a big help with college expenses. She said she was raised to be a hard-worker.

"My mom forced us (my two sisters and I) to work hard and stay in school so we can have a better future," she said.

Davis said he was impressed by the students' aspirations for the future. For example, Reyes wants to become a child psychologist and plans to get a Ph.D. and Alfaro plans to be an architect.

"A lot of times their dreams are so big," said Davis. "It is so inspiring to see these kids and how passionate they are about furthering their education."

Here are the five Helen and Clyde Willbern Scholarship recipients:

• Vanessa Alfaro: She has a 3.45 grade-point average at Bellaire High School. She works for Carriage Services as an office clerk and will attend either the University of Houston, which her sisters have attended, or Houston Community College. Her dream is to have her own architectural business firm.

• Deisy Avellaneda: She attends Westbury High School and works for A'GACI, a retail store. She has applied to University of Texas, University of Texas San Antonio and the University of Houston. She wants to become a physician and work in clinical laboratory science.

• Christian Buzombo: He is a student at Westbury with a 4.1 GPA. He interns at Service Corporation International and is a desktop technician. He plans to attend Texas A&M or the University of North Texas in Denton. He aspires to become a desktop engineer.

• Rachel Mackert: She attends Lamar High School and has a 4.2 GPA. She works for UBS Financial Services as a personal assistant to a financial advisor. She has been accepted at Texas A&M University of North Texas and University of Texas San Antonio and plans to become a nurse practitioner.

• Guadalupe Reyes: She attends Lamar and has a 3.86 GPA. She works for Jack Wallace Insurance as the afternoon receptionist. Reyes has been accepted to the University of Houston, Houston Baptist University and the University of Saint Thomas. She wants to become a child psychologist.