GROW Scholar Highlight: Meet Jenifer

Meet Jenifer, one of our GROW Scholarship Recipients!

The Scholarship Program

Poverty and wealth inequality are significant challenges in Mexico. About 18% of the country lives in extreme poverty, and among rural communities, school dropout rates, absences, and grade repetition are serious problems.

These issues are seen in settings like Cerro de Ortega, one of the communities where a lot of our scholars live, where there is a higher incidence of violence and drug abuse.

In this type of setting, children are often encouraged to start contributing to family finances rather than continuing school. This is because school means more expenses such as: internet access, commuting, uniforms, and school supplies.

Through the program that is administered in conjunction with Project Amigo, students and parents learn to understand the value of education and a pathway for a better future early on. The retention rate for those proceeding to middle school is 87% compared to 65% for those who do not participate in the program. Similarly, students from Cerro de Ortega who have been supported through GROW show a higher level of advancement to university than any other area of the state.

Meet Jenifer

Jenifer is 14 years old and in her second year of junior high. She lives with her mother and three siblings. Her mom works making tortillas.

  • What she wants to be when she grows up: a lawyer
  • Her favorite subject: science
  • Hobbies: reading and drawing

When she learned that she’d been awarded a place in the GROW Scholarship Program she shared it, “Made me so happy I wanted to jump for joy!”

As a GROW Scholar, Jenifer is responsible for maintaining a GPA higher than 8.5, performing 10 hours of community service each month, and attending homework club.

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Dulce Viridiana Marquez Sosa

Dulce was a GROW scholar who graduated from the University of Colima with a degree in graphic design in 2015.  As the fourth of six children, she grew up in poverty.  Her father owned a butcher shop and her mother took care of the children. In 2000 Dulce’s father left, forcing her mother to work in a small store to provide for the family. Her mother remarried a field worker in 2010.

Unlike the rest of her family, Dulce went to college and developed a career. Her younger sister is a hair stylist and her other siblings are field workers.  Dulce went to work after she graduated in her chosen field, where she learned about advertising, packaging, design companies, suppliers, customers and how to run a company in general.  She first ventured into entrepreneurship by opening a design firm with a friend, but the partnership dissolved in eight months.

For a time, Dulce spent her mornings working with a company and her free time working with many of her own clients from home. When she lost the morning job and had a child, she decided to rethink her goals in accordance with motherhood.  She returned to her family’s home in the small town of Cerro de Ortega and found an opportunity to start a business.  With many contacts, no graphic design or printing competition nearby, and a space to locate her business temporarily, she decided to open a studio and print shop in the center of town. 

Dulce is now prospering with a house of her own, a community that supports her, and a store front for her business.  Today she has a portfolio of clients from many areas around the state of Colima as well as in Michoacan.  She receives more work through referrals from satisfied clients and has strengthened and expanded her business with a loan from GROW.

Dulce is a proud working mother, steadily moving ahead with her goals.  She is now confident that with hard work and perseverance, anything can be achieved. Life has surprised her in many ways, but all have made her a stronger person.

You can check out her business here:

Alejandra de Jesus Nicolas Garcia

Alejandra was one of the first GROW university graduates, earning a degree in International Relations in 2012. Today, at 29, she is living independently and is part of the internal audit team for one of the largest supermarket chains in Mexico, in charge of the northwestern region from Michoacán to Tijuana.
The oldest of five children, Alejandra was the first in her family to go to university. Her mother works part time running the breakfast room at the primary school in Cerro de Ortega, a small town in Colima. Her father is a bricklayer and painter. Because of her example and GROW’s help, one of Alejandra’s three brothers has completed his university degree in engineering. As for her other siblings, one has completed high school and the other is currently attending.

Always interested in improving her opportunities in the workplace, she is continuing her studies to get a second degree in public accounting and finance at the Technological University of Mexico. Her goal is to become a CPA and specialize in auditing.

Alejandra, cognizant of the opportunities she has been given, has helped herself and her family rise from poverty. She has developed self-confidence and fulfillment that she never dreamed were possible.