VISTA — Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland announced this year’s women winners of the Live Your Dream Education and Training awards.
The club distributed awards totaling $18,100 to six women. Recipients may use the cash award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education, such as books, childcare, tuition and transportation.
Recipient of the first place Live Your Dream award was Kathryn Seman of Valley Center. Her dream is to attend USC to obtain a degree in Urban Planning and Development. A single mom of three who has experienced domestic violence, she said “Considering I only completed one year of high school and obtained a GED at 16, I never thought I would ever go back to school, and here I am at 32, proof that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself… this award means everything to me and my children.” Currently Kathryn is holding down two jobs to support her family while attending Palomar College.
Amanda Rodriguez received a special award reserved by the club for a survivor of human trafficking. Single mother to a 10-year-old, Amanda is pursuing a BA at Pt. Loma Nazarene in International Development with a minor in Marketing. “During the pandemic I co-founded a nonprofit tech startup, Free Brands, with a mission to empower survivors of human trafficking to become thriving entrepreneurs,” she said. Her dream is to live in a world where survivors are no longer just surviving, but “thriving by pursuing their purpose, and by extension raising children free from bondage, who are empowered to dream audaciously, knowing they are supported,” she wrote.
Jane Ogwuegbu is a single mom of a 1-year-old son. Jane currently holds an Associate’s Degree in Nursing with a dream of becoming a Nurse Anesthetist. “As a victim of domestic violence, living in a shelter since last year, it’s even more challenging to meet our basic needs…and realistically impossible for me to fund my career…” she wrote. Despite these challenges and lack of family support, Jane believes her current situation is temporary and she is determined to remain positive and achieve her career goal.
Aline Ramirez is a single mom going through a difficult divorce. The sole support of her 3-year-old daughter, she works at a domestic violence shelter while attending Cal State San Marcos. Aline’s passion is to help women and their families in the community. She is working towards a BA in Sociology and her dream is to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work and work as a case manager for victims of domestic violence. “Winning this award will help me continue school and not stress each semester about paying for my classes,” she said.
Maria Solano (not her real name) asked that her name and photo be withheld for safety reasons. Single mom of 3 children, she is a student at MiraCosta College and is holding down a part-time job while studying social work and human services. Her goals are to complete her AA and ultimately earn a Bachelor’s degree. Her dream is to find a field of work that would match her desire to help families and children, especially those with disabilities. Her award will help her stay the course.
Monica Limon’s award will help her achieve her dream of becoming a Preschool Director and helping children and parents, especially at-risk children and children with disabilities. Monica is a survivor of domestic violence and is taking care of her mother, husband and child while working full time as program manager for a daycare center. She is attending Palomar College and wants to obtain a BA in Early Childhood Education.
Upcoming fundraisers include a “Favorite Things with a Twist” event at the Vista Senior Center on April 8, a “Lunch and Bunco” fundraiser at Rhythm Church in Oceanside on April 15, and an “English Garden Tea” in San Marcos on May 20. To learn more about the club and its events, visit soroptimistvista.org.