A SMART AND DISCIPLINED STUDENT, Natasha Morales- Castellanos earned top grades in high school. With a 4.0 GPA and a 5.034 weighted GPA, she was second in her class of 335 at Glenn High School.
But Natasha’s school records don’t fully reflect her laser-like focus on education. Nor do they show her fierce determination, generous spirit, or deep appreciation for all the people who have helped her along the way.
Natasha, now a junior at Salem College with 3.867 GPA, is a first-generation college student. She also migrated with her mother to the United States from Mexico at age five. Soon after, she fell in love with learning.
"I loved school, even when I was really little," she said. "And I knew education was definitely important, something I had to do. Education was the way to help my family in the future."
Through middle school and high school, Natasha kept her eye on college. Challenging chemistry classes narrowed her goal further: to be a chemical engineer.
Busy working part-time jobs, volunteering with the El Nido family literacy program, and babysitting her younger brother and sister, Natasha stayed focused. Mentors gave encouragement and direction ("I still talk to my first grade teacher!" she says). Supportive teachers and guidance counselors helped her navigate the complex process of applying to college. But the bigger question was how to pay for it. Financial aid and scholarships are often only offered to those who have citizenship — possibly leaving Natasha’s dream out of reach.
"It was really a struggle through the whole year, to keep my goal in mind and be sure I could make it happen," says Natasha.
Natasha ultimately received several scholarships from the Foundation and from other organizations, including the Hispanic League. "When I realized I could do it, that I could go to college, it was amazing," she remembers. "I told my mom, and she cried. She saw that I had a passion, but knew she couldn’t help me. She didn’t know how it would happen."
For herself and for others in her shoes, Natasha is quick to say thank you to the people who create and fund scholarships. "I am very grateful for the money," she says. "It’s important to realize a scholarship has a real impact on people. It is what makes opportunities. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to go after a dream, to achieve something, and give back."
Natasha, working toward a double major in chemistry and math with a minor in Spanish, now has her sights set on the next goal: going to graduate school.
NATASHA MORALES-CASTELLANOS received the F.A. and Charlotte Blount Scholarship, established in 2007 as a $2,500 renewable award for a graduating Forsyth County high school senior pursuing a four-year baccalaureate degree. In 2012, she received the John Russell Jarman Scholarship, a $500 one-time award supporting a graduating senior at Glenn High School. Natasha has also received grants from two other funds at the Foundation: the Otis B. and Genevieve Parrish Scholarship and the Kate B. Reynolds Scholarship.