GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — A Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy senior won a coveted scholarship in a national competition.
Jaylynne Calderon-Monterroso has received the Gates Scholarship, which covers all of her education expenses through four years of college. Jaylynne competed against tens of thousands of applicants nationwide for the scholarship. The award goes to the brightest, most promising leaders of color graduating from high school each year.
“I remember like kind of screaming but I was trying not to scream,” Jaylynne said as she recalled learning about the scholarship while on a school trip. “I was just so excited.”
A look at Jaylynne’s high school resume paints a clear picture of her achievements. She is the president of the Grand Rapids Mayor’s Youth Council, the UPrep National Honors Society, the UPrep Senior Board and class valedictorian.
Jaylynne credits her parents who immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in search of a better life.
“My parents came to this country with nothing. It was really difficult for them to even find a house,” Jaylynne said. “Being able to be here now saying that I’m going to one of the top schools in the country on a full ride — It’s just like unbelievable.”
She says one of virtues she learned from her parents stands out among the others.
“I would say bravery. I could never imagine leaving here and going somewhere completely new, not even knowing the language or anyone in the country,” Jaylynne said. “The fact that my parents did that for their kids, knowing that they wanted them to have a better education, to have a house over their head.”
On Thursday, Jaylynne will lead her class onto Houseman Field for graduation. She will then embark on her next challenge — beginning as a freshman at Notre Dame University.
Jaylynne hopes her story inspires the scholars that will come behind her.
“People that are strong and passionate are going to be leaders of the world tomorrow,” Jaylynne said. “Nothing is out of reach.”