For the third consecutive year, Occidental College students are the recipients of IME-Becas Scholarships, sponsored by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME), Juntos Podemos/Together We Can and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.
The 2015-16 recipients of the $5,000 scholarships intended for Mexican and Mexican-origin students are Jesus Flores ’16, an urban and environmental policy major from San Bernardino; Lilia Jiménez ’18, a sociology major from Newhall; and César Martinez ’17, a media arts and culture major from San Antonio, Texas.
IME-Becas scholarships are awarded on the strength of recipients’ academic records; previously demonstrated leadership ability as evidenced by campus and community engagement, public service and contributing to the welfare of others; and seriousness of purpose with ambition and aspiration to make a positive difference in local, regional or national communities.
"Coming from a working-class family and being a first-generation student, it has been almost a dream coming to a school like Occidental," said Flores. "The scholarship will help make it possible for me to pursue my dream of being able to help my hometown rebuild itself into the great city I know it can be."
Planning on pursuing a career in community development or transportation planning, Flores has served as a research assistant for Occidental’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute and interned at East Los Angeles Community Corporation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance.
At the same time, he has pursued his passion for music as a violist for the Oxy-Caltech Symphony Orchestra and Oxy Chamber Quartet, and as a member of the College’s Afro-Cuban drumming and Son Jarocho ensembles. He also has worked as a Spanish and mathematics tutor at Eagle Rock High School and John Muir High School.
Like Flores, Jiménez has invested much of her time in giving back to the local community. Last year, she worked for the College’s GEAR Up program as a tutor for ninth and 10th grade students at two high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. "Working as a tutor was very fulfilling and unique in that I got to interact with amazing students and gained experience working in the Los Angeles public school system," she said.
On campus, she is a coordinator for the More MOSTe service club which organizes college workshops for girls from local public high schools, most of whom come from low and moderate income families, are students of color, and plan to be the first in their families to go to college. Last summer she interned at CityStage, a Los Angeles nonprofit that serves communities in need by providing free performing arts classes.
Martinez is a budding documentary filmmaker and photographer who has worked as a staff photographer for the Occidental Weekly, the student newspaper on campus, a freelance videographer for campus organizations, and founder of the Occidental College Photography Club. He also has served as a resident advisor and studied abroad in Havana.
"The most impactful aspect of receiving a fellowship is feeling like somebody believes in you. That aspect carries me through long nights of homework where throwing in the towel would be much easier than waking up the next morning to keep working harder than before," Martinez said. "I am immensely grateful."