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HAAP celebrates 35 years, awards $285,000 in scholarships

May 2, 2024


By: Katherine Trowbridge


HAAP recognized 40 graduating seniors from across the Columbia Basin with scholarships.


The Hispanic Academic Achievement Awards Program (HAAP) celebrated 35 years of honoring the academic achievements of local students of Hispanic heritage at their annual event held on Friday, April 26.


HAAP honors Hispanic students in grades 4-12 who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. This year, 7,718 students (grades 4-8) will be awarded HAAP certificates at their respective schools. High school students were recognized on stage during Friday’s ceremony.



The ceremony featured keynote speaker, Nikki Torres WA 15th District State Senator. Torres is also a strategic partnership manager at Western Governors University.


Torres, a first generation Latina mother, grandmother, and 40 year Pasco resident, shared about growing up as a farmworker, expressed gratitude to her parents for her strong work ethic, and her desire to go to college and work in an office, despite becoming a teen mom at age 16.


Torres was the first in her family to receive a college degree and her MBA. She spoke highly of her sister who is an entrepreneur and how the trades are important.

Torres gave credit to her mentors who “gave me the hand that I needed to get where I am today.”


She encouraged the students in attendance stating, “Sometimes people see something in you that you don’t see, believe them.”

She went on to add, “Just don’t stop, keep going, and remember, we need mentors along the way.”


The ceremony went on to award 40 students from Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, and North Franklin School Districts with $285,000 in scholarships.


The top HAAP scholarship of the evening, totaling $12,000 was awarded to Odalis Ambriz of Kennewick who seeks to become an elementary teacher with a certificate in ELL. The pursuit of her career was sparked by her 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Sanchez. Through the acts of kindness her teacher gave her at a young age, Odalis was able to speak and write in English. She excelled by taking honors English and IB courses. As a first generation migrant student, she has faced many challenges and through those, her parents have taught her to persevere. She stated that she cannot change where she was born, but she can change the outcome. She is hoping that with her education, she can show students anything is possible.


Brenda Madrigal Garcia - Heritage University Scholarship for $20,000 renewable up to $40,000


Heritage University also presented a $21,928 scholarship to Heritage University to an unsuspecting Pasco student (pictured).



Local HAAP scholarship recipients from NFSD included:



Jessica Bautista, a running start student from CHS (3.41 GPA). She plans to attend the University of WA to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing. Her ultimate goal is to become a nurse and serve her community. She will receive her Certified Nursing Assistant license this spring through CBC. She is involved in math team and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) at CHS and the League of United Latin American Citizens at CBC. She also volunteers her time at second harvest and gives back to her community. Bautista was awarded a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by LULAC.



Adryen Valdez (3.84 GPA) will graduate from CHS and receive his AA from CBC this spring. He plans to attend the University of Washington State Pullman to study computer engineering. His fascination with computers began at an early age, building his own computer at the age of 14! He continues to share his passion for electronics with younger students and hopes to continue introducing Hispanic youth to STEM computers and coding when he is working as a professional. Valdez was awarded a $1,750 scholarship sponsored by HAAP.



Christian Jovanny Santiago Moran (3.96 GPA) is a running start student at CBC and will graduate CHS this spring. He plans to attend Western Governors University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s in computer science. His ultimate goal is to provide resources to Hispanic organizations that help young Latinos find balance between the various parts of their industry and serve as a tutor at colleges and universities. When he is not helping his parents in the orchards, he dedicates his time to learning about technology and electronics, practicing sports such as soccer and boxing and volunteering.

During his senior year, he also took on the mission of fixing a run down soccer field in a rural town in Mexico. Santiago was awarded a $3,000 scholarship sponsored by Lenwood Farms.



Jorge Gaytan Garcia (3.9 GPA) will graduate from CHS while being a full time running start student. Jorge plans to attend WSU in Pullman where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. His ultimate goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner. He is on CBC’s president honor roll and has been ranked in the top 10 in his high school class. He has been actively involved in HOSA (future health professionals club) and served as treasurer for the ASB and is on the National Honor Society. Jorge is also actively involved in the Tri-Cities LULAC council at CBC. HAPP awarded Gaytan Garcia a $4,000 scholarship.




Alejadro Salas Castellanos (3.98 GPA) is attending running start at CBC and will graduate from CHS this spring. Alejandro plans to attend the University of Washington where he will pursue a bachelor’s with a major in History and a minor in Political Sciences. His ultimate goal is to become a lawyer and specialize in immigration law. As a son of immigrants, he would like to advocate for migrant rights and help facilitate pathways for citizenship. He has a special passion for Hispanic history and is interested in how history can be used to shape our present and future, particularly for the Hispanic community. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Academic Honor Roll. Salas Castellanos received a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by HAAP.



Camila Gonzalez Mendez (3.99 GPA) is graduating from CHS. She plans to attend Washington State University Pullman where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing and Diagnostic Sonography. She has volunteered time to local food banks, blood roves, women’s shelters, the Miss Connell Scholarship program, and the community banquet. She also works at the Country Mercantile. At school she served as ASB secretary for two years and played varsity tennis. HAAP awarded Gonzalez Mendez an $8,000 scholarship sponsored by Sue Frost.


Scholarships were also presented to:


Brianna Sanchez of Chiawana High School shakes hands on stage after receiving her scholarship sponsored by Columbia Basin College.


Pasco High School:

Isaac Alexander Hernandez (3.62 GPA) $1,750 HAAP Scholarship

Brandon Medina (3.88 GPA) $2,500 scholarship sponsored by HAPO

Jasmine Mendoza Gil (3.98 GPA) $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Eastern Washington University

Esbeidy Lopez Carmona (3.58 GPA) $3,000 HAAP Scholarship

Irlanda Garcia Rivera (3.89 GPA) $3,000 scholarship sponsored by Tri-Cities Engineering

Jared de La Fuente (3.6 GPA) $3,750 scholaship sponsored by Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Iahly Rugama Cruz (3.77 GPA) $5,000 HAAP Scholarship

Matthew Duran (3.91 GPA) $3,750 scholarship sponsored by Columbia Basin College.

Raquel Villasenor Garcia (3.982 GPA) $7,000 scholarship from Gonzaga University renewable up to $28,000 over 4 years.

Brenda Madrigal Garcia - Heritage University Scholarship for $20,000 renewable up to $40,000 0ver two years or until she completes her undergraduate degree.

Kimberly Paloma Joya Manzanares (3.94 GPA) $7,500 HAAP scholarship


Chiawana High School:

Vanessa Iniguez Mejia (3.84 GPA) $1,750 HAAP Scholarship

Maria Martinez Castro (3.94 GPA) $2.500 GESA Sponsored Scholarship

Andrea Guzman (3.70 GPA) $3,000 HAAP Scholarship

Jose Muniz (3.95 GPA) $3,000 HAAP Scholarship

Jose Luis Pantoja (3.45 GPA) $3,750 scholarship sponsored by Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Esmeralda Munguia Michel (3.84 GPA) $3,750 scholarship sponsored by Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Briana Sanchez (3.61 GPA) $3,750 scholarship sponsored by Columbia Basin College.


Tri-Cities Prep:

Jackelin Izelle Martinez (3.781 GPA) $7,000 scholarship from Gonzaga University renewable up to $28,000 over 4 years.

Samantha Quintana (3.87 GPA)  $7,000 scholarship from Gonzaga University renewable up to $28,000 over 4 years.


Congratulations to all the 2024 HAAP students!

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