Central grad gets full ride to Mesa; plans to teach

Central’s newest class of graduates throw their caps into the air.

When Aura Medrano opened the mailbox and found an envelope with her name on it, she assumed it would be joining a tall pile of “Thanks for your scholarship application
but ...” letters.

Even when she got down to the bottom of the page, where it asked her if she accepted the full-ride scholarship to Mesa State College, she questioned its authenticity.

It took a visit to senior counselor Kelley Smith’s office to convince her it was real.

On Wednesday, Medrano crossed the stage to receive her diploma with 336 fellow Central High School graduates, secure in the knowledge she will be able to attend college to become a teacher. That guarantee didn’t exist a month ago.

“It means a lot,” Medrano said. “It’s such a blessing.”

There may not have been a Central student who spent as much time in the counselor’s office filling out scholarship applications as Medrano.

“We have no idea how many she has applied for,” Smith said. “She was in here for every single scholarship we had.”

While several foundations and organizations turned her down, there were a few who gave her assistance, including Alpine Bank, the Latin-Anglo Alliance and Mesa State College. But even added together, they didn’t meet her level of need.

Medrano’s mother died last June, forcing her to grow up quickly and help her father take care of her two younger siblings and leaving the family with one less source of income. She was reluctant, however, to divulge that major shift in her life in her scholarship application essays.

“She wasn’t one who wanted to use that for anyone to feel sorry for her,” Smith said.

When it came time for local high school counselors to nominate one student from each school for a Mesa State Opportunity Scholarship — intended for those with extreme financial needs — Medrano was an easy pick, Smith said.

“She was in here the next day” after the scholarship opportunity was announced, Smith said.

And Medrano was there at Stocker Stadium, where, under a clear sky and a cool, morning breeze, Central biology teacher and commencement speaker Jennie Kiser urged graduates to “be there for the needs of this world.” Those needs can be big or small, she said, ranging from fighting global warming to helping an elderly neighbor vacuum her house.

Valedictorian Monica Treto, who gave part of her address in Spanish, advised her peers to think about whether they are happy with who they are now and to “use your battles and experiences” to help shape their future.

Kiser, who is leaving the school after 11 years, drew an analogy between graduates and a story of students finding and bringing to her an abandoned baby bird — a bird, she said, that was ugly, featherless and had a beak that was too big for its head.

She said she left it under a shrub, thinking she would let nature run its course and a cat would find its lunch. But she ended up retrieving and caring for the bird before letting it go.

Kiser told graduates they achieved “prepared independence,” thanks to their teachers, family members and friends.

“You have grown into your beaks, you have the feathers, you need to fly,” she said.


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