Two students win CMC scholarships
Two local high school seniors, along with five other students from the region, have received scholarships from Alpine Bank to attend Colorado Mountain College. Erika Pinela, an Eagle Valley High School student, and Maricela Pinela, who’s graduating from Battle Mountain High School have won scholarships that cover the full cost of in-district tuition and books.The scholarship was created eight years ago by Alpine Bank’s Bob Young and the community college’s youth outreach coordinator, Mariana Velasquez-Schmahl. As the unofficial “Mom” of the group, Velasquez-Schmahl is a mentor, guide, coach and cheerleader throughout the student’s career at Colorado Mountain College.”None of these students have been in the country long enough to have a full command of the language,” she said. “But in spite of that, this group has higher grade point averages than students from previous years.”Erika Pinela’s first stint at Eagle Valley High School lasted about six months. Her mother was “struggling for the basics” and Pinela dropped out, at 15, to help out. That experience convinced Pinela she did not want to clean houses for the rest of her life, she said. She enrolled in high school again and made the honor roll. Now she helps tutor elementary school children in math. “Erika has worked extremely hard to be on the Principal’s Honor Roll,” teacher Catherine Nanin said. “She’s positive toward school, herself, and her ability to create a positive interaction with peers and adults.”Pinela said she wants to become a teacher.Maricela Pinela, who’s not related to Erika, said she plans to study business and management and envisions owning a business. But her family’s budget is strained – her younger brother has cerebral palsy and an older sister attends Johnson and Wales University.Battle Mountain High School English teacher Kelly Moriarty described Maricela as “one of the most talented and creative writers I’ve taught.” “She possesses a quiet maturity and a deep respect for everyone she encounters,” Moriarty said.
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