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! Please meet the 2021 recipients:
Felecia Navarro Holland High School Attending Hope College Majoring in Social Work
Brisa Martinez Holland High School Attending Grand Rapids Community College Majoring in Criminal Justice
Carla Garcia-Caballero Holland High School Attending Grand Rapids Community College Majoring in Criminal Justice
Isaiah Reynolds is a graduate of West Ottawa High School, was awarded the Fronse and Germaine Pellobon-Smith scholarship. He plans to attend Hope College to study business and pre-law, with the goal of becoming a corporate lawyer one day.
2021 TRIO/Upward Bound winners "These are two young woman who are definitely going to make a difference in our world." ~Liz Colburn, director, Hope College TRIO/Upward program.
Angel Ruizwill attend Kalamazoo College, with plans to go into medicine. She received the Becky Arenas Scholarship. The first scholarship established by ACEH in 2013, this award honors the life and legacy of social justice and education advocate the late Rebecca "Becky" Arenas of Holland, who served on the ACEH board from 2005 to 2009.
Delfina (DJ) Duron plans to attend Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She has a variety of interests and has not decided on a field of study yet but most likely it will have something to do with social justice. DJ received the ACEH Scholarship, established in 2019.