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Soroptimists help 5 women live their dreams

VISTA – Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland presented $14,000 in Live Your Dream Education and Training Awards to five local women to invest in their education and help create a better life for themselves and their families.

Criselda Martinez-Jimenez of Vista received the top award of $5,000. Speaking at the club's annual "Live Your Dream" Awards Luncheon on March 16, Martinez-Jimenez spoke eloquently of her struggles growing up of becoming a widow with two young children to raise. Currenting attending Cal State San Marcos, she eventually hopes to become a physician assistant.

Four other women received awards of between $2,000 and $3,000 each. Some recipients did not want their full names and/or photos published for privacy reasons. All of them have overcome significant obstacles like poverty, homelessness, domestic and/or substance abuse, and dysfunctional upbringings.

Awardee Briana Hernandez is juggling attending courses at MiraCosta College with raising five children, the youngest of whom has significant health issues. Her dream is to get her nursing degree and become a licensed midwife.

Another awardee, Ginger D., read a poignant poem she wrote about her challenges. Recipient Leontia called her award "a beacon of hope to help me achieve the dream that once seemed unattainable." Single mom of two daughters, Leontia's dream is to become a Registered Nurse. "This award isn't just about fulfilling my dreams," she said. "It's about showing my daughters the power of perseverance and the value of education."

In addition to providing the primary financial support for their families, all award applicants must be enrolled in, or have been accepted to, a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program and must demonstrate financial need.

Recipients may use the cash award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or enhance their skills, such as books, child or dependent care, tuition and transportation. Non-Soroptimist volunteers from the community are chosen to review the applications and recommend the awardees. Those not chosen this year were given gift cards and urged to apply again next year.

Since 1972 Soroptimist clubs around the world have awarded approximately $41 million to more than 41,000 women, many of whom have overcome enormous obstacles including poverty, domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and addiction. Since 2012, the Vista club has invested over $120,000 in the dreams of 40 women through the program.

A registered charity, the club raises funds for these awards through fundraising activities throughout the year. New members are always welcome. The next fundraiser is in May. For more information visit

Submitted by Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland.


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