GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Grand Rapids Promise Zone) — Margarita “Maggie” Sauceda has known since middle school what she wanted to do with her life, but wasn’t sure if she could make it happen – until she learned about the Grand Rapids Promise Zone.

“If it wasn’t for the Promise Zone Scholarship, I probably would have taken a year off to work, and then slowly worked my way through school,” Sauceda said.

Now she is studying business administration at Grand Rapids Community College and plans to graduate in spring 2023, gaining the skills she needs to follow her dreams.

“After college, I’m going to own my own construction business,” she said. “Be my own boss.”

Sauceda is one of 450 students attending GRCC through the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks for eligible students who live within the Grand Rapids Public Schools service area and graduate from one of 25 high schools located within the city of Grand Rapids.

Sauceda graduated from Innovation Central High School in 2021, but has been interested in construction since middle school. Every day after school, her father, Rene Sauceda, would bring her to help and learn on his construction projects for Designs, Decorations and Constructions Sauceda.

While the skills Sauceda learned with her father paired well with Innovation Central’s Academy of Design & Construction courses, she wasn’t sure she could afford to advance her studies by attending college fulltime.

Then Jullianie Mackey, a guidance counselor for TRIO Educational Talent Search, informed Sauceda she was eligible for the Promise Zone Scholarship. She remembers becoming emotional when she learned how the scholarship would cover her college costs.

“I started crying right away. It was really emotional for me, and also very fun,” she said. “Since I started crying, my mom rushed into my room and was like, ‘Are you okay?’ ‘What’s going on?’ And then she yelled for my dad because I couldn’t speak, so I showed her the email and we all cried and just hugged each other.”

In addition to her studies, Sauceda is on the Member Advisory Council of the Community Food Club, works as a freelance translator, and volunteers for the Grand Rapids Promise Zone.

Promise Zone Director Ashlee Mishler said Sauceda is an excellent example of how the scholarship can help students gain the college education they need to transform their lives.

“The Promise Zone removes barriers to success, and puts a college education in reach for everyone,” Mishler said. “We live in a community that believes everyone should have the opportunity to attend college. Students like Maggie are taking advantage of the scholarship to build their skills and find rewarding careers in fields they love. She is an inspiration to others to follow their dreams through the Promise Zone.”

For more information about the Grand Rapids Promise Zone is available at, through email at or by calling 616-234-4321.