Jenae Romero and Yvette Whisenhunt are among five women to each receive $1,000 scholarships from MANA del Norte, a nonprofit organization working with Latinas in Northern New Mexico.
Romero, who is from Taos County, grew up "facing many struggles," said a statement from MANA del Norte in announcing the awards. "Her parents split at a young age leaving her to help tend to her younger siblings." Romero plans to transfer from the University of New Mexico out of state to pursue her education and try and pay for it on her own at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. She will pursue a biology and premedical degree. She plans on getting into medical school and eventually returning to Taos as a pediatrician.
Whisenhunt, from Llano Largo, currently attends University of New Mexico-Taos and is pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Whisenhunt told MANA that in her freshman year of high school, she had to transfer schools due to bullying. In her senior year, she gave birth to a daughter, but completed her diploma and went immediately after into college. She is now a full-time student and works part time. She plans on transferring to New Mexico Highlands University's criminal justice program in the fall of 2018.
MANA del Norte was founded in 1989 by a group of Latinas sharing common interests. The group serves the counties of Los Alamos, Mora, Río Arriba, Santa Fe, San Miguel and Taos.
The group received 32 applications from all six counties, "ranging in age from 18 to 58, some taking care of their own children, siblings, grandparents; others are working two jobs, and some are merely trying to deal with financial burdens due to limited funds," said a statement from the nonprofit. "With this scholarship we offer help to those in need that may not have access to many other opportunities. This scholarship allows these ladies to continue working towards their educational goals, it offers a relief from financial burden and the hope that they can obtain their degrees and move to a career of their choice."
The other three recipients of the scholarships were Diana Baca, Alejandra Calles and Mayra De La Riva.