"Jessica is the product of rape. Her mother is mentally challenged. In 2005, her grandmother was murdered in front of her," said Marta Carrasco, Jessica's cousin and guardian .
But with the help of people like Marta, Jessica has been able to overcome tragedy and excel in everything she does. After graduating near the top of her class from MHS, Jessica headed to the University of Texas in Austin to get her degree in speech pathology. "She wants to get this education so that she can be able to support her mother and give her the kind of life she has never had," said Marta.
It's people like Jessica that inspire IRWA members to raise funds for scholarships every year. While reviewing dozens of applications, IRWA member Doc Weathers ran across Jessica's story.
"Jessica really touched our hearts and so she was one of our big award winners," said Weathers.
But thanks to local sponsors like Oxy, who donated $4,000 to the Doug Damron Memorial Scholarship program, Jessica is only one of many recipients. This year, IRWA was able to award a record-breaking 39 scholarships totaling $27,000.
It's all in memory of a long-time IRWA member and University Lands employee Doug Damron. "Doug Damron, who we named the scholarship after, was a real proponent of education," said Weathers.
That love for education inspired everyone around Doug, including his widow Betty Damron. "He always stressed the importance of education to every young person," Betty said. "In fact, he stressed it to me. I'm taking college classes myself."
And now, IRWA is looking forward to helping more students who want to further their education. All they need to do is apply.
It's something Marta Carrasco wanted to stress to all high school students who will need help getting to college. "I would like to recommend to all the students out there, that no matter what their obstacles are, to apply for all these scholarships and focus on education for them to better their future."
If you or your company would like to help IRWA Chapter 35 continue to help local students, they'll be hosting their annual golf tournament to raise funds for scholarships on October 12 at Nueva Vista. If you'd like to learn about sponsorship opportunities and how you can get involved in the golf tournament, you can find all that information on IRWA Chapter 35's website, www.irwachapter35.org . You can also reach Doc Weathers at 432-631-7643.
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