Vista Hermosa Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of 27 new students to our scholars program this Fall! Sixteen are being awarded through FirstFruits Farms in Prescott, WA. The other eleven come from the Tierra Vida community in East Pasco, and are the inaugural group for our new RISE program at VHF. We are very proud of each of these students and the personal commitments they have made to challenge barriers, build resilience, and be a positive impact in their communities. In such a time as this, when the injustices of systemic racism are being laid bare, we stand beside these students and commit our resources to mentor and support them, and invest in their dreams for the future.
The students enrolled in each of these programs are eligible to receive up to 5 years of support as they pursue their degrees and community service commitments. They join a dynamic cohort of about 50 students already enrolled with us.
Gisselle Salazar is one of those students. She is a FirstFruits Scholar and freshman at WSU Pullman. This past year, she was selected to be a part of CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program), a federally funded program designed to meet the needs of students with migrant or seasonal farm-working backgrounds. Throughout this past semester, Gisselle’s class explored different ways people tell their stories and each student chose how to tell their own. Gisselle worked an entire month to tell her story on canvas and created a painting with many cultural images to symbolize her life. Her painting gives a nod to her indigenous roots and the coastal town in Mexico where she lived until age 5. She tells the story of her parents’ immigration and eventual vocation in the US, waking up each morning to dark landscapes and slivers of light illuminating the horizons, all while dreaming of her future. Their hard work of harvested fruits is next to them. Gisselle envisions her journey to become an Immigration Lawyer in her painting; the bare feet represent the barriers to resources that are more readily available to different ethnic and socio-economic groups. The cacti, though beautiful, are prickly and rough just like the world of achieving a higher education degree as a minority in the US. Overall, her story is one of the power of family, positivity and hope, even while acknowledging that her journey is still difficult and will require much resiliency.