Maps awards scholarships to high school grads

Published June 8, 2016

When Jesus Rodriguez-Uribe was volunteering at the AWARE Foodbank in Woodburn, he was struck by the amount of hunger in the community. Then he was struck with an idea: He could grow vegetables to feed the hungry. 

The Woodburn teenager called on his friends to put his notion in motion. He found a friend who had a vacant lot. He got three buddies to help turn the lot into a vegetable patch. After that, Jesus, a student at the Wellness Business and Sports high school, and his friends weeded, watered and tended the garden. A few months later, the four harvested corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, squash, peppers and watermelon to share with their neighbors in need. 

“I know that the battle against hunger is ongoing, but am proud that my contribution made a difference,” Jesus wrote in an essay explaining how he started the patch, now a community garden called New Roots. 

Jesus’ initiative is one of the reasons he, along with a dozen other mid-Valley high school seniors, won a college scholarship from Maps Community Foundation this spring. The foundation has given away more than $110,000 in scholarships since 2005. 

Like Jesus, every one of the winners, showed not only academic excellence, but also character and compassion, said Mitzi Smith, Maps’ community development officer. In addition to Jesus, who will be the first in his family to attend college, several other winners have done a lot for the Mid-Valley. 

For example, Brenda Plata-Hurtado of North Salem High School wrote a book to show how children with disabilities deserve equal treatment. Jennifer Miranda of West Salem High School, started a Students for Change fundraiser that helped Syrian refugees. Ava Krueger of Silverton High School helped coordinate blood drives. 

“These are exceptional individuals,” said Smith. “We’re confident they will continue to share their time and talent with the community.” 

Ava Krueger said she is thankful for her scholarship, which she will use at Portland State University next year.

“Scholarships are a way for me to follow my dreams,” she said. “I can go to college, not worry about debt, and focus on studying.” 
 

Meet all of this year's scholarship winners and learn where they’re going to college: 

  • Julio Jaquez ($1,000) of West Salem, who plans to attend University of Oregon 
  • Ava Krueger ($1,000) of Silverton High, who plans to attend Portland State University 
  • Gabriel Linares ($500) of Woodburn High, who plans to attend University of Oregon 
  • Kelsie Meithof ($500) of West Salem High, who plans to attend University of Buffalo 
  • Jennifer Miranda ($1,000) of West Salem High, who plans to attend University of Portland 
  • Julissa Montero ($1,000) of North Salem High, who plans to attend Western Oregon University 
  • Braden Palanuk ($1,000) of Salem Academy, who plans to attend George Fox University 
  • Brenda Plata-Hurtado ($1,000) of North Salem High, who plans to attend Western Oregon University 
  • Joshua Spann ($500 and $1,000) of West Salem High, who plans to attend Liberty University 
  • Cythia Soto ($500) of McKay High, who plans to attend Chemeketa Community College 
  • Faith Sully ($500) of Silverton High, who plans to attend Oregon State University
  • Jesus Rodriguez-Uribe ($500) of Woodburn’s Wellness, Business and Sports School, who plans to attend University of Portland 
  • Jason Yue ($1,000) of McKay High, who plans to attend Oregon State University