What is the scholarship?
The Wildflower Scholarship began as a way to help Dreamers, children who were brought to the United States by their parents who have not become citizens, attend an after-high-school program to continue learning and developing their skills. The money could be used at an accredited vocational school, an accredited community college, or an accredited four-year college or university. Since Travis High School is right across the street from our church’s meeting place, we chose to offer it to students graduating from Travis.
We awarded our first scholarship in 2013 and the first couple of years, we offered only one scholarship to Travis graduates. By the third year, the fund had grown through the generosity of our congregants, and we were able to add graduates from Crockett High School to our candidates. Later, we received a generous contribution from the Austin UU Fellowship when they disbanded their group, and we were able to offer two scholarships to graduates of Crockett and Travis High Schools.
Who does it fund?
Until 2021, the scholarship funded almost exclusively Latinx students. Dreamers are not identified as such, but the essays that students wrote made it clear that they were indeed Dreamers whose families struggled to build a life of safety and support for their children. Almost all of the applicants worked outside of school to help their families make ends meet and were involved in extracurricular activities, as well.
The COVID pandemic made it very difficult for high school counselors to work with students on scholarship applications, and our applicants dwindled to almost none. At that point, we began to consider other ways to help fund the education of students of color after they graduated from high school. In 2021, we gave the entire year’s scholarship money to Huston-Tillotson University, a Historically Black University in Austin. We directed that the money was to become part of the Endowment Fund where it could combine with other funds and continue to provide more financial stability for the University.
How many students are funded a year?
We began by funding one student per year. We gradually increased that number until we were awarding four $1,000 scholarships each year. In 2021, we gave no individual scholarships, but donated to the Huston-Tillotson University Endowment Fund where it can be used for the good of many students.
How many years have we been doing this?
We gave our first scholarship in 2013; 2021 was the ninth year in which we awarded money for students’ continued education.
How does it impact student’s lives?
It has proven to be frustrating to follow up with our recipients. We have been able to document their enrollment in the school of their choice, as we send the money directly to the schools only after receiving certification of their enrollment from the registrar of their chosen school. We know that at least one of our students was very successful in his first two years of academic work at Austin Community College and subsequently enrolled in Texas State University to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration.
It is interesting to note that several of our students have been enrolled in Early College Programs in their high schools and have graduated from high school with a diploma and considerable college credit in their chosen field. At least two of our recipients graduated from high school having earned their diplomas and an Associate Degree from ACC. They entered their chosen universities as students in their junior years. Their hard work has resulted in not only acceleration of their education, but also significant savings on college expenses.