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Valeria Jimenez is ‘Realizing the Dream’ at Manchester


Manchester sophomore Valeria Jimenez has been honored by the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) for her exceptional performance as a first-generation college student.

Jimenez is Manchester University’s ICI “Realizing the Dream” honoree for the 2021-22 academic year.

This award is granted each year to first-generation college students from ICI’s 29 private member colleges and universities, selected for their impressive academic accomplishments in their first year. The recipients also receive a one-time $3,000 scholarship courtesy of a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

“It’s an honor,” Jimenez said. “It proves to me that I’m on the right track and it reminds me that I am setting an example for other first-generation students in my family.”

Jimenez is majoring in psychology and plans to become a child psychologist.

In addition to her studies, Jimenez participates in volunteer service. She helped at MU’s “Walk Into My Future,” an event during which students from area elementary schools come to the North Manchester campus to learn about the benefits of higher education and the college experience. She has also been volunteering at the Fulton County Animal Center since her sophomore year of high school.

“Whenever opportunities come up, I try to volunteer,” she said.

From Akron, Indiana, Jimenez graduated with honors from Tippecanoe Valley High School in 2020, ranking fifth in the class of 107 students.

During her high school career, teacher Kristopher Walker led a class that gave his students an opportunity to visit local elementary and middle schools and mentor younger students. Jimenez now credits him as the teacher who influenced her to seek higher education.

“During my senior year, I had doubts if I wanted to be a child psychologist,” she said. “When we had discussions in class, he would tell me, ‘You’re going to be an amazing psychologist.’ To hear that from someone I look up to a lot, it really told me that that was the right decision.”

Each “Realizing the Dream” recipient was asked to select an influential teacher in their educational journey to get an award. Walker and the other recognized teachers will each receive a $1,000 professional development grant.

Normally, the ICI would host a banquet to honor the selected students and their influential instructors. However, they took a different approach this year due to COVID-19. The ICI produced videos of the students sharing their stories and observing their teachers’ impacts on their education.

Jimenez’s video can be found here.

Written by student Carly Greaves, a communications and media relations academic intern.