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DCCCD Students Follow in Erin Tierney Kramp’s Footsteps to Overcome Hardships and Succeed in School

photo of Gabriela Guerrero
Anna Padilla

For immediate release — June 14, 2011

(DALLAS) — Gabriela Guerrero is the first member of her family to go to college — but her accomplishments in life go well beyond taking that momentous step. Guerrero focused her attention on a successful high school career, tutoring others and participating in a number of extracurricular activities; on her community (giving more than 900 hours of volunteer service on Sundays to Methodist Hospital in Dallas); and on her grades. The El Centro College student dreams of working with community leaders to restructure Oak Cliff and to design homes, schools and buildings that would be environmentally friendly, too. Now she must finish another journey — the road to U.S. citizenship — so that she can move forward with her dreams.

Inspired by a mother who held their family together through tough times — no support from a former husband, little money and threats from Child Protective Services to separate the children — Anna Padilla has weathered adversity throughout her life. In addition to turbulent family times, she also survived the deaths of several friends in high school; a serious car accident that left her with spinal fractures and broken bones; a painful recovery that included pain pills and rehabilitation; and, later, a treacherous marriage that ended in separation. Through it all, Padilla held her head up high, moved forward and decided that she has been called to help others through counseling and nursing, which she is pursuing at Brookhaven College.

photo of Patricia Williams
Patricia Williams

The courage and perseverance shown by all three recipients in the face of adversity are traits exhibited by the person for whom the award is named. Erin Tierney Kramp, who fought breast cancer from 1994 to 1998, created a videotaped legacy of “life lessons” for her young daughter that would convey Erin’s views and advice to Peyton as the young girl grew up, following her mother’s death. Erin touched many lives and inspired countless strangers when she co-authored “Living with the End in Mind” (with her husband and a family friend) and through appearances on programs like “20/20” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Winfrey recently featured the Kramp story/segment (one of her favorites) on a May 2011 farewell show as the program reached its historic end. Erin’s legacy lives on through the Kramp Foundation, the DCCCD scholarship program and the lives of all recipients.

“The Erin Tierney Kramp program awards scholarships to students based on their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Michael Brown, president of the Erin Tierney Kramp Foundation. “We see these qualities in Gabriela, Anna and Patricia, who bravely survived their own challenges and who plan to help others by going to college and preparing for careers that will serve others. Their stories exemplify what our past recipients have demonstrated repeatedly through Erin’s legacy. When individuals face adversity, the struggles that they endure will either make them stronger or defeat them. Winning that battle requires courage and perseverance. Gabriela Guerrero, Anna Padilla and Patricia Williams have proven they possess both traits, and they truly deserve this honor.”

Guerrero, who has earned a 4.0 grade point average at El Centro, is a member of the Math Society and the Art Club. The freshman began preparing for college when she attended W.H. Adamson High School, where she held a 3.5 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society, the debate team, the Science Club and Rotary International. She also was captain of the debate team and secretary for Rotary International. Community service, tutoring and a love of education have inspired Guerrero to succeed in school and to plan for her future, which includes obtaining her citizenship in the U.S.

“My parents came to the U.S. when I was very young, and although I now understand the importance of legalizing my status, it has not been something I can accomplish independently,” says Guerrero. “One of my goals is to obtain my citizenship and contribute to my new country.”

Padilla — who plans to earn her associate degree in nursing and then transfer to a four-year institution to earn her bachelor’s degree in that field and then a master’s degree in social work — has a 4.0 GPA and works as a caregiver. She has mentored and sponsored troubled teens; participated in church mission trips; and led a praise-and-worship team at her church. Emerging from a life filled with difficult family times, injuries from a debilitating car accident and an absent spouse, Anna views every obstacle as a learning experience that helped shape her life and led to her career choice as a nurse and counselor.

Padilla says, “I have lived life through rigorous lessons that so many people endure, and it is my utmost desire — if not duty — to help others through it. I firmly believe that, with God’s help, I will change the world by being an advocate for anyone who has struggled with abandonment, addiction, poverty and abuse as I have. My dream is to lift up fellow survivors and show them that they do have a choice and a right not to suffer.”

Chronic pain has been Patricia Williams’ constant companion since her son was born. Diagnosed with lupus, she has struggled to overcome multiple physical challenges and treatments that depleted her energy levels, caused memory problems and eventually forced her to use kidney dialysis. Happily, the 47-year-old nontraditional student has a new kidney, and as the first member of her family to go to college, Patricia is pursuing her dream to finish an associate degree at Eastfield and then earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing — a profession she has chosen because of the care and compassion she experienced from health care givers during her illness.

Williams says, “The wonderful treatment I received from all of the doctors and nurses left me in awe. I watched the nurses as they worked so hard to make their patients feel comfortable and at ease. Their job is not an easy one. I was so impressed with them that it left me wanting to give back to the community in the same way.”

For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree, director of board and donor relations for the DCCCD Foundation, at (214) 378-1536 or Eddie Miranda, director of marketing and public relations for the foundation, at (214) 378-1541.

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Press contact: Ann Hatch
214-378-1819; ahatch@dcccd.edu
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