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Two DCCCD Students Face Adversity, Earn Scholarships


June 2, 2003

(DALLAS) — Mary Sefzik hasn't lost sight of her goal to attend college and combine a career in music with Christian radio, even though she hasn't been able to see since the age of six weeks.

As the product of a dysfunctional home, Raul Magdaleno — who also immigrated to the U.S. at an early age — has rechanneled years of negative experiences into more than 30,000 hours of volunteer service in his community...part of his efforts to building a future through education and hard work.

Both students have faced tough challenges, and both have recognized that their dreams can become reality only with perseverance and an education. The Dallas County Community College District and the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation will honor Sefzik and Magdaleno on Thurs., June 26, during a special ceremony as they receive the 2003 Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship Award. The 6 p.m. award ceremony will be hosted by a member of the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation board of directors. Robert L. Thornton III, chairman of the DCCCD Foundation board of directors, will attend.

The scholarship will help both students continue to reach for their dreams with the financial support provided by the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement scholarship awards. Each student will receive a $700-per-semester scholarship (up to a maximum of $2,800). Sefzik, who attends Eastfield College, wants to major in music and communications; Magdaleno, who is enrolled at Mountain View College, is preparing for studies in corporate communications and public affairs.

The scholarship recipients' courage and perseverance in the face of adversity are traits exhibited by the person for whom the award is named, Erin Tierney Kramp. Kramp, who fought breast cancer from 1994 to 1998 (when she lost that battle), created a videotaped legacy on "life lessons" for her young daughter that would convey Erin's views and advice to Peyton as the young girl grew up. 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. Her 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 Betheny Reid, executive director of the DCCCD Foundation. "We are excited to give the 2003-2004 scholarship award to both Raul Magdaleno and Mary Sefzik. We also are pleased to announce that last year's recipients will continue in the program for another year and that two additional students will receive a one-time 'Encouragement' award of $500 for fall 2003."

Sefzik, whose love of music and communications are complemented by her dedication to school and church, says: "My dream job would be to work in some capacity for a Christian radio station like KLTY or KCBI. That would be an open door for me to share my faith in Christ, my love of music and my interest in radio."

A graduate of Poteet High School in Mesquite, the EFC student graduated with a 3.89 grade point average. She was chosen to serve on the Texas Commission for the Blind's Leaders in Transitional Excellence (LITE) Commission during her freshman and sophomore years at Poteet. She served as a member of the Youth Leadership Council at Casa View Baptist Church, as well as the Youth Praise team, during her senior year. Sefzik also was named 2002 Student of the Year by the Texas Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind.

She has earned a 4.0 GPA at Eastfield and is an avid reader who enjoys history and writing. Sefzik learned how to read Braille music using a correspondence course over a three-year period, and she took a radio course at KEOM-FM in Mesquite last year.

Magdaleno has amassed more volunteer service hours in his young years than some persons accumulate in a lifetime. Many of those hours (more than 12,000 to date) have been spent working for Reconciliation Outreach, a shelter for battered women and children. He also has donated his community service time to organizations like the Buckner Children's Home, "Feed the Children," "Youth with a Mission" and others.

A first-generation college student at Mountain View, Magdaleno says: "My service to the community has molded my leadership and discipline, and it has allowed me to build a solid foundation. It has prepared me for the challenge of life and has given me an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others."

After finishing at Mountain View, he plans to transfer to Southern Methodist University. Magdaleno has received the 2002 International U.S. Congressional Medal Award, the Reconciliation Outreach "2002 Volunteer of the Year" Award and the U.S. President's Student Service Award for outstanding leadership in the community.

Last year's winners, Juretha Phillips and LaShoud Powell, also will be recognized as continuing Kramp scholarship recipients. Phillips, a single mother of four daughters and a grandmother, has overcome both drug addiction and HIV/AIDS to pursue her dream of becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor and social worker.

Powell grew up in an environment of drugs, crime and conflict. He bypassed those hazards and decided to pursue a college degree so that he can become a pharmacist. Each will receive $1,400 for the 2003 academic year. El Centro student Lora Pucket and North Lake student David Olmstead will receive a one-time "Encouragement Award."

High school and college students like Magdaleno and Sefzik are invited to apply for an Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship award from the DCCCD Foundation. Eligible applicants include high school seniors who graduate each spring, as well as current DCCCD students.

High school students who are recipients of the Kramp award will receive $700 per semester, for a possible total of four semesters and $2,800. Community college students who receive the award and who maintain program requirements will receive $700 per semester for the remaining semesters of the two-year program. Recipients must attend one of DCCCD's seven Dallas County campuses.

The Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation was established in 1997 by the Dallas/Fort Worth Private Equity Forum and was named in Kramp's honor; it established a permanent scholarship endowment with the DCCCD Foundation in 1999.

For information, contact Kathye Hammontree at 214.860.2053.