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Meet the 2022 DREAM Scholars

News & Updates
January 19, 2022

Today Achieving the Dream (ATD) announced the eight community college students who have been named 2022 DREAM Scholars.

The DREAM Scholars program is an experiential learning opportunity for community college students designed to enhance leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. In addition to the Scholars’ learning experience, the program integrates dynamic student voices into ATD’s annual DREAM conference.

After being nominated by their institutions and undergoing a rigorous selection process, the 2022 DREAM Scholars will have the opportunity to present at ATD’s national convening, DREAM 2022, where they will share their perspective with thousands of educators, leaders, and advocates in the higher education reform field.

The DREAM Scholars are a highlight of every DREAM conference, offering insight into the diverse experiences, challenges, and hopes of community college students across the country. Each Scholar has a unique story to tell about their educational and personal journey.

These are highlights from their stories:

Adrian Bell (he/him)
College of Southern Nevada | international finance
Adrian had an entrepreneurial spirit and was earning money for his family from an early age. After seeing that none of the millionaires featured in Forbes looked like him, Adrian was encouraged by a mentor to become the representation he was looking for. He is working to become the first in his family to earn a college degree. His goal is to start a global nonprofit to help equip people to plan for their futures. Adrian is a peer mentor and facilitator in the Nevada Promise program and has helped first-generation college students see themselves as successful.

Talia Christian (she/her)
Northeast Lakeview College (TX) | psychology and philosophy
Talia credits her last stay at a rehabilitation facility with giving her the courage not to give up on herself. She is inspired by her parents, whose own education enabled them to move from South Africa to the United States to seek a broader global experience. She has been passionate about education reform from a young age and hopes to help others rise out of poverty and attain multigenerational opportunities. She is a founding member of the Black Student Union at Northeast Lakeview College and a leader in student governance.

Cyan Hite (they/them)
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College | laboratory science
Cyan’s journey in higher education has included multiple twists and turns. After stopping out once due to financial obstacles and changing career paths, they are now enrolled in the laboratory science program at NWTC. Cyan divorced and became a single parent of three children at the age of 24. They have persisted through personal setbacks, never losing sight of where they began, and they are passionate about encouraging and supporting others in their own journeys.

Diego Horisberger (he/they)
Tunxis Community College (CT) | art studies
From an early age, Diego has been taught the importance of an education from his parents, who are passionate about expanding his opportunities. He chose to attend community college for its affordability, and his passion for creating led him to focus on art studies. He is influenced by artists who depict marginalized communities and humanize different populations. His job at the college’s Welcome Center allows him to help first-generation students learn how to “do” college and build a sense of belonging.

Zennia Nesmith (she/her)
Chattanooga State Community College (TN) | psychology
Zennia’s passion for supporting women and children facing traumatic situations has inspired her to pursue a degree in psychology. As the mother of a disabled daughter, she has struggled financially, working two jobs and knowing that a college education was the key to her success. Zennia currently serves as student government association president at Chattanooga State and is a guest speaker at an adult education class in her community. She identifies as an adult student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and her experiences inform her goals of promoting mental health initiatives in communities of color.

Kalolaine Uhila (she/her)
College: Iḷisaġvik College (AK) | Indigenous human services
Kalolaine, born in Maui, is the first in her family to attend college. Childhood experiences with poverty and domestic violence gave her a strong determination to earn an education. After an injury forced her to lose an athletic scholarship, Kalolaine’s educational journey was interrupted. Eventually, a job opportunity at Iḷisaġvik College in Alaska helped her to save money and reignited her goal to complete her degree. She plans to pursue postgraduate education and ultimately work at Tribal Colleges where she can give back to her community.

Ashley Valdez-Ibarra (she/her)
Front Range Community College (CO) | undecided major
Ashley is a first-generation Mexican American college student who is charting her path to success. Following experiences with addiction and abuse in high school, she decided to make a change and enrolled in the Gateway to College program. She is passionate about human rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. She believes strongly in equality and fair treatment and volunteers at political rallies, helping with workshops and organizing. She hopes to become a Colorado District Representative for the Democratic Party.

Brandon Woodall (he/him)
Lorain County Community College (OH) | culinary arts
Brandon has experienced many interruptions on his educational journey — twice, he had to stop out of college due to financial obstacles. A passion for cooking for his loved ones led him to start his own catering company and to pursue a degree in culinary arts. As a former student athlete who has experienced food insecurity, his goal is to create a program that supports student athletes with free meals. A husband and father, Brandon credits COVID relief funds from Lorain County Community College with changing his family’s life.

DREAM 2022 attendees will have the chance to hear directly from these students as part of the conference.

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