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​Contact: Eddie Miranda
214-378-1541; emiranda@dcccd.edu
Kathye Hammontree
214-378-1536; khammontree@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — Sept. 1, 2015

(DALLAS) — Five area Dallas County Community College District students are role models for others. They succeed; they are leaders in their communities; they have a strong sense of purpose; and they have a deep work ethic and clear educational goals. They are determined, and others have recognized their potential because each of those students has been named a 2015-2016 Muse Scholar, beginning this fall.

The new Muse Scholarship recipients are:

  • Kelsey Booker of Garland, a digital film major at Richland College;
  • Ezra Calado of Mesquite, an accounting major at Richland College;
  • Andres Lesmes of Dallas, a business major at Mountain View College;
  • Lina Patel of Irving, a biochemistry major at North Lake College; and
  • Ania Villegas of Dallas, a psychology major at Eastfield College.

Recipients are selected on the basis of their leadership potential, determination to succeed, focus on educational goals and work ethic, along with proven leadership skills and academic achievement.

Created and funded by longtime DCCCD Foundation supporters Lyn and John Muse of Dallas, the Muse Scholarship Program fully supports each recipient’s college costs — including tuition, books and additional fees — so that the student can meet the requirements of the certificate program or degree plan in which she or he is enrolled. Students may receive the Muse Scholarship for up to six consecutive semesters.

“We know that the people who become Muse Scholars will enrich their own lives; they’re that kind of people,” says Lyn Muse, who also serves as an officer on the DCCCD Foundation’s board of directors. “We only hope that as they move into their careers, they will pay it forward — not necessarily financially but in some way, maybe as a mentor or volunteer. We know they will do great things with what they’ve been given.”

Three Muse Scholars who attended a DCCCD college in 2014-2015 are returning this fall, too:

  • Jessica Gallardo of Farmers Branch, a biology major at Brookhaven College;
  • William Kaseu of Dallas, a mathematics major at El Centro College; and
  • Katia Marroquin of Irving, a nursing major at North Lake College.

Biographical sketches of this year’s new recipients are provided below; for more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation office at (214) 378-1536.

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Dallas County Community College District

2015-2016 Muse Scholarship Recipients

Biographical Sketches


Kelsey Booker Kelsey Booker – Kelsey Booker, a Garland resident, is a recent graduate of Naaman Forest High School and a digital film major at Richland College. An aspiring film director and book series author, Kelsey has a passionate affinity for imagination. “I can make a story out of everything, thanks to my imagination,” she says. Kelsey is working to have her book series, “The Fugitives,” published soon. Throughout her high school career, Kelsey held several leadership roles. She led the Naaman Forest band as drum major for two years (her senior year as head drum major) and served three years as president of the LIGHT (Living Intervention and Guidance for Healthier Teens) Brigade. Offered through Garland Independent School District, the LIGHT Brigade Program provides education, intervention and resources to students, parents, administrators and the community in a way that helps students choose healthy lifestyles. The LIGHT Brigade is a student support group that helps achieve these goals by educating the school’s students about the risks of problems that are common among youth, such as drug and alcohol abuse and distracted driving. Kelsey’s role as drum major, combined with the rigorous preparation and discipline involved in marching band competitions, also shaped her ability to become a true leader. Along with her band partner, she ran practices for two months while her band director was recovering from surgery. The band went on to earn a first place trophy in its division in competition. Kelsey attributes these kinds of experiences to her growth “not only as a leader, but as a person as well.”


Ezra Calado Ezra Calado – Mesquite resident Ezra Calado, an accounting major at Richland College, likes to challenges herself when it comes to her lifelong goals. Her deep passion to help the needy and her desire to empower those who lack political voice have motivated her dream of becoming a human rights lawyer. Ezra previously served as an administrative assistant for Operation Care International, a nonprofit organization that cares for the homeless in Dallas and aids children in Southeast Asian countries. She recently helped manage the organization’s social media platforms and has contributed to many of its projects. As Miss Teen Asian American Texas in 2012, Ezra participated in various service projects that allowed her to develop her platform on women’s empowerment, as well as the inclusion of the arts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. She has devoted her time extensively to volunteer work for her church and organizations throughout the community, including the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, TEDxTalks at Southern Methodist University, the Baylor Garland Junior Volunteer Program and the city of Garland’s summer nutrition program. At Richland, she is a member of the Intercultural Women’s Society, Model United Nations and the Zoology Club. Ezra’s determination to excel in her studies was a factor in her selection to participate as a member of the Richland College Honors Academy, the National Society of College Scholars and the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society for community college students. She also serves as vice president of the Student Government Association. Following her education at Richland, she plans to transfer to a four-year university; her goal is to become a certified public accountant and then to enroll in law school. Ultimately, Ezra wants to become a human rights lawyer for the United Nations so that she can influence legislation in that area.


Andres Lesmes Andres Lesmes – Andres Lesmes, a Dallas resident and business major at Mountain View College, is a native of Colombia. Despite personal and financial challenges he has faced as an international student, Andres quickly learned the English language, adapted to a new life and excelled in his studies and involvement on campus during the short time he has lived in the U.S. “Andres is one who readily takes the initiative to identify problems, offer solutions and act,” says his mentor, Carlos Cruz, director of Mountain View’s Student Success Center. “His desire to prove himself worthy of any and all endeavors he chooses to pursue is impressive.” Andres serves as an event coordinator for Mountain View’s International Friendship Club, an organization that aims “to help international students get involved in the American culture and provide an opportunity for American students to open up to students from other countries.” He also participated in the First-Year Leadership Academy, which helps first-year students at Mountain View become engaged in campus life and take advantage of resources that enable them to succeed in college. Andres also has volunteered as a coach in summer youth programs for the city of Dallas.


Lina Patel Lina Patel – Lina Patel, a resident of Irving and a second-year biochemistry major at North Lake College, say she has been grateful for all that she has been able to achieve since she moved to the U.S. from her native country of Tanzania two years ago. In search of a better life for Lina and her brother, Lina’s parents left their jobs and sold the few assets they had back home. “Similar to anyone new in this country, I began with nothing,” Lina says. “However, I proved to myself that with determination, one can achieve anything they aim for.” Lina first attended North Lake at the age of 16. Now 18, she has taken full advantage of her learning experience at North Lake to grow as a servant leader and focus her career goal on becoming a cardiac surgeon by the age of 30. Her involvement in a variety of campus activities is extensive; she has served as a member of several organizations, such as Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society (as president); the Student Government Association (as secretary); the Health Professions Club; and the College Day Committee (an initiative sponsored by North Lake’s SGA), which researches issues around campus and resolves to fix them by presenting them personally to government officials. She was selected to attend the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) Conference in St. Louis last February, where she participated in a variety of workshops and brought back ideas for North Lake’s student orientations. During the conference, she also was awarded the title “Best Problem Solving,” along with two other peers on her team, for her work finding a solution to a case study in which more than 150 students participated. Other college and community service work has ranged from serving as a student ambassador for North Lake to raising $400 for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society during the Light the Night Walk in Addison, to teaching Bollywood dance classes for students of all ages. After completing her education at North Lake, Lina plans to transfer to Southern Methodist University. Her long-term goals are to enter medical school and then become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Lina aspires to open her own charitable hospital in Tanzania and work with Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian-aid organization that helps people “where the need is greatest.”


Ania Villegas Ania Villegas – Dallas resident Ania Villegas, a 2015 graduate of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, is attending Eastfield College this fall, where she plans to study psychology and combine it with her passion for art. “I hope to one day accomplish this by becoming an art therapist,” she says. “In doing this I will be able to help people — one of my passions — with my love of art.” While at Rangel, Ania was involved in several school and community activities. She served for three years on the school’s yearbook staff — two years as its editor-in-chief — and volunteered her time with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) chapter. Ania also was invited to join the school’s Peer Assistance and Leadership Service (PALS) program, serving as an ambassador for the school at community functions and with prospective students and donors. She worked closely with women mentors affiliated with the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas to help her combat gender and culture stereotypes. Her involvement in her church’s choir and in school athletics (first soccer and then archery) also has contributed to Ania’s development as a well-rounded student and leader.