‘I Have A Dream’ Program

 I Have A Dream supporters Michael and Maryann DeMayo, Jo Hackler of the Gale Fo

The “I Have A Dream” Program recently recognized Class of 2016 new “dreamer” scholarship recipients during a reception and dinner at the Beaumont ISD boardroom. After a vigorous selection process, 12 new dreamers from the BISD school district received public recognition, along with encouraging words from IHAD board members, BISD and higher education administrators. The new dreamer scholarship students will be attending Lamar University or Lamar Institute of Technology Fall 2016 supported by $2,000 annual scholarships, bringing the total number of dreamers enrolled for fall 2016 to 43.

I Have A Dream President Tom Abbage, accompanied by board members, Dr. Carolyn Crawford, Regina Rogers, Paula O’Neal, Marilyn Adams, Nancy Beaulieu, Elizabeth Petit and Boyd Wells, welcomed parents, administrators and dreamers to the reception. Abbage exhorted the new dreamers to continue their good work throughout their higher education. “Only you can determine your success and how far you will go. You already have a head start and I see success everywhere I look in this room!”

BISD Superintendent Dr. John Frossard and Special Assistant to the Superintendent Nakisha Myles Burns, MPA, communications specialist, shared their personal stories of overcoming the odds through big dreams, hard work and persistence.

IHAD Board Vice President and program founder Regina Rogers added her words of encouragement. “This program started by my family in 1988 has helped more than 450 young people fulfill their dreams for almost thirty years now! We are so proud of our dreamers and your accomplishments. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer!” she said.

Rogers acknowledged special donors in the audience, including Jo Hackler representing the Gale Foundation; Steve Lyle, YMBL president; Maryann and Michael DeMayo; and Norma Sampson, all who have provided matching funds for a grant from the Family of Sally and Rhew Dooley facilitating mentoring and other services for dreamers. “I Have A Dream is truly a group effort,” Rogers said.

The evening culminated with IHAD Student Affairs Director Margueritte Humphrey introducing the new students and presenting each one with a commemorative trophy and gift bag. IHAD scholarship recipients for 2016 are: West Brook High School students Mariah Chittenden (LU-Nursing), Mary Kim (LU-Nursing, Psychology), Ellis Coles (LIT-Process Operator), James Parent (LU-Electrical Engineering), Miguel Martinez (LU-Nursing) and Charles Wagner (LU-Nicholas Pearson Criminal Justice Scholarship); Central Medical Magnet students Samuel Lazare (LIT-Process Operator), Samuel Rueda (LU-Political Science), Joaquin Romero Jr. (LU-Mechanical Engineering), Reina Sixtos (LU-Biology, Pre-Med) and Jessica Torres (LU-Speech and Hearing); and Clifton J. Ozen student Kayla Simmons (LU-Psychology). Special thanks were conveyed to BISD campus counselors Francesca Williams, Shermette Doctor and Lisa Roccaforte.

More than 15 current dreamers present for the reception, many of whom are on the LU Dean’s List and President’s List and LIT’s Vice-President’s List, were also recognized. Hasini Kuruppu, whose father was murdered in 2014 in a convenience store robbery, expressed her deep appreciation to IHAD board members for the extra support her family received during a time of crisis.

The individual presentations concluded with a group photo of 2016 dreamers and IHAD Program board members. Special guests Joanne Brown, director of development, Lamar Institute of Technology; and Dr. Kevin Smith Sr., associate provost, Lamar University, each shared gratitude for the IHAD program, welcoming incoming dreamers to their campuses.

Rogers acknowledged all the dreamers whose lives have been transformed by opportunities provided through the endeavor. “We are a family and we stick together through the challenges. The touching stories dreamers have shared tonight demonstrate the positive impact of the program and the wonderful example they are to their community.”

Class of 1999 dreamer Faith Dotson Coles is the proud parent of new dreamer Ellis Coles who will begin his higher education at LIT in process operations and then continue at Lamar in mechanical engineering. “Ellis did well in school,” Faith said. “Now I want to see him through to shine on his own. I want him to exceed what I’ve accomplished.” 

“I have my mom to thank for her continued coaching and support,” Ellis acknowledged his mother’s role in his success.

New dreamer Mary Kim, who will be attending Lamar this fall for nursing and psychology, originally came to the U.S. from Myanmar (formerly Burma) at the age of 3, with her family seeking political asylum. Beth and Glen Morrison, along with other members of Beaumont’s faith community, provided Mary and her family invaluable support over the past 15 years as they adjusted to their lives in a new country. Full of gratitude for the opportunity I Have A Dream provides, Mary expressed, “Thank you for giving us hope and making a difference in our lives.”