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For immediate release - June 14, 2006
(DALLAS) – Zuri Garcia knows what it’s like to live in a single-parent home, to move frequently and even to be left on her own.
She also knows that taking responsibility is the key to her survival and success – and that getting an education is critical as she strives to improve, grow and become a productive adult who enjoys life and reaches out to others who need a helping hand.
Faced with those challenges throughout her young life, Zuri has inspired others by her example. That’s why the North Lake College student recently received the 2006 Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship Award, which was presented during a special program in June and hosted by the Dallas County Community College District Foundation and the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation.
The scholarship will help Garcia reach for her dreams with financial support provided by the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement scholarship award, which covers full tuition and books for up to four semesters. Garcia, who is pursuing studies in education, plans eventually to become a psychiatrist so that she can help others.
Zuri is philosophical about the obstacles she has faced and overcome. “It’s been said: ‘What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.’ I have gained strength from these words by learning from the mistakes of others.”
The scholarship recipient’s courage and perseverance 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 (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, following her mother’s death. Erin touched many livesand 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 Michael Brown, president of the Erin Tierney Kramp Foundation. “We see these qualities in Zuri, who bravely survived her own challenges and who plans to help others by going to college and preparing for careers that will serve others. Her story exemplifies what our past recipients have demonstrated repeatedly through Erin’s legacy: we should celebrate life’s goodness, regardless of adversity. Zuri truly deserves this honor. ”
A graduate of the Academy of Irving ISD, the college freshman is majoring in education. She mentored ESL students in mathematics and computer training at NLC’s South Irving Center and has worked with at-risk children. “Through my work with at-risk children, I found my passion lies in teaching and – ultimately – a medical degree in psychiatry.”
Garcia, who speaks both English and Spanish, is involved in community service efforts through Phi Theta Kappa, the international academic honorary for two-year colleges, as well as Christians On Campus and the Teacher Preparation Club. She enjoys poetry and creative writing, plus scrapbooking and collages.
Until recently, however, Zuri’s life has been unstable at best. A Houston native, she knew little about her father; Zuri’s mother barely spoke of him. The young girl moved from town to town with her mother, who was seeking work. “As a result of this unstable lifestyle, I did not have my own room or even my own bed,” she recalls. Zuri’s situation appeared to improve in seventh grade when she and her mother moved into a tiny apartment with friends.
Zuri’s circumstances changed drastically again at age 12 when her mother never came to pick her up from a summer vacation in Austin. Eventually, she moved to Dallas and lived with her Aunt Yolanda and Uncle Sammy, sometimes reminded of her difficult life when friends or schoolmates would ask why she didn’t live with her parents. But Zuri looks at her situation this way: “Though my life may seem unstable and has been hard on me at times, I believe that these challenging lessons have shaped who I am.” The biracial and bilingual student believes her ethnicity is as diverse as her perspective on life and learning. “I am fluent in Spanish and embrace my both my African-American and Mexican-American heritage. Somewhere in the middle of these two cultures, I identify with both the black and Latino communities. I believe this is an asset that contributes to my culturally diverse perspective and helps me fit in with everyone.”
Zuri also considers herself diligent, organized and an entrepreneur. She explains: “Since my mother abandoned me, I realized that my future truly rests on my shoulders. This sense of responsibility has made me very diligent and organized with all of my interests. And because necessity often is the ‘mother of invention,’ my creativity drives many of my entrepreneurial successes – earning extra money by working a variety of odd jobs, from babysitting to washing cars (and marketing those services to neighborhood residents), plus creating PowerPoint presentations for faculty members.”
The North Lake College student currently works as an administrative clerk in its Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning Center. She has participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” and the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure.” She also has assisted with infant care at Oak View Baptist Church and continues to volunteer in her community.
For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree, director of administration for the DCCCD Foundation, at (214) 860-2455.
Press contacts:Kathye Hammontreeor Ann Hatch, DCCCD marketing/media relations, 214-860-2478