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Chamber Throws Graduation Party for Nimitz Salutatorian

Irving — The Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce threw a graduation party for a deserving high school senior at the Marriott Las Colinas Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 8.

Sara Escobar transferred to Nimitz High School in the fall of 2015 when her family fell on hard times. They were forced to move from place to place, run-down apartments, motels, even living out of a van at one point, before eventually becoming homeless.

Nevertheless, Escobar continued to attend classes and dedicated herself to her studies. She became salutatorian of her graduating class and will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she hopes to major in biology and become a dentist.

Looking back, Escobar said she tried to not let her situation affect her performance in school.

“My situation never really seemed to be an excuse for slacking off, so I just didn’t bring that up a lot,” Escobar said. “I didn’t really think about it. I try not to think about it too much.”

Mary Ann Kellam, president of the Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, heard Escobar’s story and wanted to help.

“We started talking and I said [to Sara] we’re going to eat lunch, and we’ll talk,” Kellam said. “She’s very quiet and very shy. But she really lit up, especially when she saw what we were doing for her. When I came to the board with this whole thing, they were all very receptive, and immediately said, ‘Let’s do something from our foundation,’ which we did.”

Escobar’s total tuition is $18,000. The chamber was able to raise over $9,200 for her tuition, as well as an additional $900 worth of gift cards to purchase items for school. Escobar will also be receiving scholarships from UT Austin.

“This is such a special occasion,” Kellam said. “We don’t get to do this very often. Usually it’s about business, and about chamber work, and all we do in the community. But this is a very special story, and I am honored we were able to get it done.”

Escobar was amazed at the amount that had been raised for her by the community and is determined to give back once she is able.

“It’s really overwhelming, but I’m really grateful for it,” Escobar said. “I really want to be like all these people here, successful and giving back to your community. I really love the support they’re all showing me right before I leave. It’s really overwhelming, but it’s nice.”

Magda Hernandez, Irving ISD superintendent, is incredibly proud of Escobar’s accomplishments, and she encourages all her students to pay it forward.

“What I tell our students is when they get this type of help, that if they ever have an opportunity to pay it forward, to do that,” Hernandez said. “Sara said, ‘Absolutely, I’m going to do that.’ She’s going to become a dentist at some point, so I hope she will be back in our community.

“It is always a pleasure to be in front of a community that’s very committed. I think that’s the special thing about Irving and the community. We are all willing to help and support the district and our amazing students. That makes us very powerful.

“I’m so proud and blessed to lead this district in the right direction, and continue to take our students to the next level and help them make their dreams come true.”

The Irving Schools Foundation has set up a fund for Escobar. All donations will be paid directly to the University of Texas at Austin. To donate, visit http://weblink.donorperfect.com/saraescobar.