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Natalie Villacres, 18 – FUNDED

Natalie Villacres knows firsthand that when you remove some financial burdens from low-income students’ education journeys, it gives them the opportunity to invest their time and passion in community service and extracurriculars. And that’s just what this 1,000 Dreams Fund Scholarship recipient will be doing when she starts Brown University in Fall 2021, to pursue studies in education and psychology. Her dream is to make an impact on the world around her — especially in helping other low-income, minority children.

What is your professional dream?

In 10 years, I want to be making a difference in the world around me, whether that is as a teacher, a nonprofit leader, or any other change-making position.

How will you use the 1,000 Dreams Scholarship?

I plan on using the scholarship to cover any leftover funds I may have that my university will not cover. In my case, it will allow me to participate in nonprofit missions within the Providence community, tutor minority students, and help others who need it.

How is this scholarship helping you get closer to your dream?

Without the help of financial aid, service opportunities and extracurricular activities become a luxury rather than a commonality in a low-income student’s schedule. Students like me must dedicate their time to work-study and part-time jobs, taking away their chance to immerse themselves in their passions and their ability to help others. This scholarship changes much of that for me, pushing me to focus on making a difference in my community, rather than struggling to pay university bills.

What advice do you have for other young women who are wanting to pursue their dreams?

We live in a world full of hatred, patriarchal barriers, and widespread inequality. But it is up to you to invent the future that you want — despite these many obstacles. It will always seem impossible until you achieve it. Always remember that with strength, everything is obtainable.

​Have you had any setbacks? How did you move past them?

There have been several setbacks and hardships I have faced — both in my personal life and my academic life. Each time that I have gone through something difficult, I continue to remind myself that with each struggle eventually comes a victory, even if it seems far into the future.

It is important to remain optimistic and full of life, and I strengthen my courage by reflecting on my past abilities to overcome adversity. At the end of the day, I cannot rewrite the barriers of my past or my beginnings, but I can always change where my story takes me from there.

What’s next for you? What is your next goal?

My next goal is to invest time in what makes me happy and fulfilled, while pursuing my education. All I can think about right now is making it through that first semester of college — and living my most joyful, community-oriented, and extraordinary life.