Ontario, OR native receives prestigious national scholarship

PULLMAN, WA – An Ontario native and student at Washington State University is one of ten recipients nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship.

The American Heart Association has awarded ten $5,000 scholarships to college students from across the United States through its EmPOWERED Scholars program. Kristi Juarez, a 2022 graduate of Four Rivers Community School in Ontario, has been recognized as an EmPOWERED Scholar. Kristi is a sophomore at WSU and is studying pre-nursing. 

“I remember when I found out I just started crying because I was so grateful,” says Kristi.

“To be one of only ten scholars recognized in 2023 is a tremendous achievement, and I congratulate these students for being named EmPOWERED Scholars this year,” said Wendy Zheng, co-chief executive officer and co-founder of Carmenta Care, a donor who generously funded two scholarships in Washington. “These students show great promise and I hope the scholarship helps support their efforts to address health inequities in our communities.” 

The American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED Scholars program awards scholarships to enrolled undergraduate students who volunteer in their communities and give their time to community-based organizations, student-led organizations and other groups that address food insecurity, safe housing, job opportunities, access to health care and other conditions that can result in health disparities. Applicants had to meet enrollment and GPA guidelines and submit an essay. 

Kristi says she’s always had a passion for helping people, ever since her childhood in Ontario, that’s why she pursued nursing. 

“I want to make a difference in health care. I know what it’s like for health care not to be inclusive because my parents are from Mexico and I’ve witnessed unfairness and difficulty with communication,” says Kristi.  “So I kind of want to be that person that is a voice for those who aren’t heard as much.”

She says she hopes other kids in small towns like Ontario can also follow their dreams and not think they are limited. 

“I know Ontario is a small town but you can still do big things.”