A strong social justice activist and advocate for education, Rebecca (Becky) Arenas was a force to be reckoned with in Holland. Among her many community connections, she served on the board of ACEH from 2002 to 2009. When she died in 2011 at age 76, we thought about how we could honor her life and work. We found our answer in the Gary Pepe Memorial Fund, which was set up with donations from his family and friends after his untimely death in 2005. Gary, too, was a social justice warrior, a mentor to youth, and served as ACEH president in 2003. With monies from that fund, plus other donations and proceeds from our annual silent auction fundraiser, in 2013 ACEH established the Rebecca Arenas Scholarship at the TRIO/Upward Bound program at Hope College, to provide funds for an outstanding high school student of color who would be the first in his or her family to attend college.
In 2019, we set up a second award, the ACEH Education Scholarship, also at TRIO/Upward Bound.
In 2020, we doubled our annual scholarships to four, with two new winners chosen by Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP).
In 2021, funds were granted for a fifth scholarship, the Fronse and Germaine Pellobon-Smith Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) Scholarship Award, established by Maple Avenue Ministries and announced at the Juneteenth Freedom Festival.
At ACEH, we believe these awards are so important to the future of young people here that we have committed to transferring 60 percent of all donations to a designated fund that is invested through a local financial firm. Eventually, the earnings of the fund will cover the cost of these five annual scholarships—and maybe more. Can you help us grow this fund to recognize and support our community’s youth? To contribute, please scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the Donate button. Thank you!
Meet the 2023 ACEH Scholarship Winners
ACEH provides scholarships to outstanding graduating high school seniors from Hope College TRIO/Upward Bound, LAUP, and I AM Academy.
Upward Bound Student Recipients Two outstanding students in the Hope College TRIO/Upward Bound program have been selected to each receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony (ACEH). The awards, which were presented on May 20, 2023 by ACEH president-emeritus Marvin Younger at an Upward Bound event, are funded through individual and business donations to ACEH and monies raised at community events.
Joshua Mendoza, a Holland High School graduate, received the ACEH Education Scholarship, which was first funded in 2019.
Yami Osorio, who is graduating from Fennville High School, won the Rebecca (Becky) Arenas Scholarship established in 2013 to honor the late community activist, advocate for education, and former board member of ACEH.
Yami and Joshua will attend Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in the fall.
At GVSU, Yami will work toward a career in the arts. At Fennville High, she played alto saxophone in the band and sang alto in the school choir; she was proud to earn a “one” on her solos for solo and ensemble. Meeting old and new friends at band competitions was special, too. Besides music, Yami was a soccer player in high school. When asked to name a special part of TRIO/Upward Bound, she said, “A fitness class! We went outside last summer and played ‘capture the flag.’ I made some new friends through that game.” Looking beyond college, Yami says she has an intense desire to explore all that the world overseas has to offer. Congratulations, Yami! We wish you all the best at Grand Valley and beyond.
Joshua played flute in Holland school bands from 5th through 10th grade and was on the high school wrestling team. “The hard work” was his answer when asked what he really liked about high school and Upward Bound. “In school I had a hard time getting my work done, paying attention, being on time, and just being a good student. What I enjoyed most was getting the discipline I need to go on with life and college. Honestly, without school or TRIO/Upward Bound, I would not be the person I am today. I want to be an example of how you can reach your goals no matter what circumstances you may be in.” At GVSU, he will pursue a career in the medical field, ideally in nursing. Congratulations to you, Joshua! Best wishes for success at Grand Valley and in the future. TRIO/Upward Bound, a national program, is designed to work with high school students from first-generation college and low-income families by helping them develop the motivation and academic skills they need to successfully complete high school, enroll in a college or university, and explore career options. It was established at Hope College in 1968 and has served several thousand students over its 55 years on campus. Its director is Andrea Mireles.