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Terrific Tiger: BHS senior wins $20,000 Dell Scholarship

In our first ‘Terrific Tiger’ story in a series celebrating graduating seniors, we meet BHS senior Jacqueline Corona, who was awarded a $20,000 Dell Scholarship and will become the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college. 

For Jacqueline Corona, words cannot simply express how incredibly proud her parents are of her accomplishments. 

“My mom, anytime she sees that I’m succeeding, she just gets so happy, with a little twinkle in the eyes, like you know when someone is really happy,” Corona said about her mother’s reaction to her acceptance to the University of Texas at Austin.

“My dad is happy for me,” the Belton High School senior said about her father, whom she described as slightly more restrained given his mixed emotions. “He’s also realizing that I’m going to have to leave the nest soon. So, it’s a reserved kind of happy.”

The weight of leaving for college is compounded for Corona by the fact that she’s the first in her family to not only get accepted to college but also graduate high school.

“It’s really stressful and hard,” Corona said about the months leading up to graduation. “It’s really hard coming from a first-generation Hispanic family, so it’s been really tough for my parents trying to let me have the freedom to go off to college and trying to set the example as the older sister to my younger brothers.”

Corona’s parents were born in Mexico and both emigrated to the U.S. when they were teenagers. Her father’s highest-level of education is elementary school, while her mother finished middle school but left high school early.

“As soon as it hit fractions, in fifth grade, I stopped being able to get help from my parents on homework,” Corona remarked about the struggles that arose from her parents’ lack of educational opportunities.

While Corona is humbled that she’ll be a first-generation high school graduate and college student, affording UT weighs heavily on her mind.

“Since I come from an immigrant family, my parents don’t exactly have the money to pay for my college. So, I’m trying to get my first year completely paid for, all on my own,” she said.

She’s already quite adept, as she recently received news that she is one among the 500 students in the nation to be named a Dell Scholar.

Jacqueline Corona

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation created the Dell Scholars to assist underrepresented and underserved students from low-income households, many of whom are first-generation college- bound students. The designation comes with a $20,000 scholarship, a computer, textbook credits, and direct support for academic, financial and emotional support.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Corona said about the application process and the waiting to hear back. “When I found out that I did get it, I was super, super happy because it’s a lot of money for college!” 

“It’s a great relief for me because she will have help gaining her education that she desires to get,” said Belton High School teacher Lucy Bowman, Corona’s AVID teacher who also helped with the Dell Scholar application. “Jackie is very focused and driven to get her education. She really values her education. And, financially, it would have been very tough for her [to attend UT] had she not received that scholarship.”

Corona also recently found out she’s receiving the Texas Advance Commitmentfrom UT, a financial award specifically for incoming undergraduate students from low-income and middle-income families. While at UT, she plans to double major in marketing and accounting, a path she said was inspired from her work during robotics club.

While she acknowledges her academic well-being was a priority for staff at BHS, Corona admits her emotional needs for specifically addressed.

“Ms. Bowman and all the AVID teachers have helped me through some really tough times,” said Corona, about the importance of having built a strong relationship with her teacher. “I guess the stress of going to college has been getting to me, so anytime Ms. Bowman sees I’m a little quiet she always comes up and checks on me.” 

“This is the first year I’ve had Jackie,” said Bowman. “She’s quiet, but very unique. She brings about a quirkiness to our classroom and it’s fun because she’s a very high-level thinker” 

And for Corona, having an encouraging teacher and mentor like Ms. Bowman has been invaluable.

“It warms my heart a lot because I’ve always had a difficult time believing in myself, so seeing that someone genuinely believes in me, and cares for me, really helps me persevere,” Corona said.

Joshua Wucher
May 28, 2019