2024 Promise Scholars share how they are will pursue their dreams

The Holland/Zeeland Promise, an academic scholarship for students with high financial need, proven academic success, and motivation to achieve a college or technical degree, recently welcomed 15 students to its 2024 cohort.  

The Holland/Zeeland Promise is a program of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) and is funded by community partners. It was established in 2010 by a group of business and community leaders to allow promising young people the opportunity to realize their dreams through education. 

The Promise covers the costs of tuition, books, and housing after any other grants and scholarships have been applied.  

Vital to the Promise’s success is its side-by-side approach, which offers academic support along  with resources for students’ mental and emotional well-being. Local partners Mosaic Counseling  and Thompson M-TEC assist CFHZ staff with these supports. 

“It is an honor to steward the Holland/Zeeland Promise and work alongside students, donors, and community partners,” says Stacy Timmerman, CFHZ’s director of scholarships. “This program is more than financial assistance, it’s an investment in future leaders and changemakers. We are committed to making education accessible and proud to play a role in helping hardworking students access opportunities for success.”  

The students share their plans for their education and career path, and how the Holland/Zeeland Promise is making that possible.

CourtesyJaquelin Barajas
Jaquelin Barajas 
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Michigan State University 
“The Promise will enable me to continue working towards my goal of a career in public policy. This scholarship is not only financial assistance but also a life-changing opportunity for my immigrant parents and me.” 

CourtesyHolly Byrd
Holly Byrd 
Holland High School 
Attending: University of Michigan 
“I am beyond honored to be chosen for the Promise Scholarship. Through this scholarship, I have the opportunity to earn a degree in environmental engineering and make a difference in my community. I am forever thankful for the donors, for CFHZ, and all of the people who helped me along the way.”  

CourtesyApril Fuentes
April Fuentes
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Wayne State University 
“I am grateful to have received the Promise scholarship. Not only am I able to pursue my dream of going to college, but I will also be able to help others just like my community helped me.” 

CourtesySteffie Mattias
Steffie Mattias
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Grand Valley State University 
“With this scholarship, I will pursue my dream of becoming a social worker. The Promise is going to help me get through college debt free and with no financial burden. It is an honor for my hard work and dedication to be recognized this way.” 

CourtesyNatalie Pierson
Natalie Pierson 
Zeeland East High School 
Attending: Michigan State University 
“I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this life-changing opportunity. Thank you to the  Promise Scholarship and to everyone who has helped me on this journey!” 

CourtesyTroy Postema
Troy Postema
Zeeland West High School 
Attending: Grand Valley State University 
“Receiving this scholarship has inspired me to work even harder, strive for excellence, and pursue my goal of making a positive impact on my community by becoming a police officer. I am  committed to making the most of this incredible opportunity.” 

CourtesyAiriell Paz-Rodriguez
Airiell Paz-Rodriguez 
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Michigan State University 
“I’m incredibly grateful to have received this scholarship. I will now be able to pursue a degree in  engineering to become a change agent in my community.” 

CourtesyRicardo Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez 
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Michigan State University 

CourtesyEmily Cruz-Rojano
Emily Cruz-Rojano
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Calvin College 
“Thank you to all who have supported and believed in me. I’ll always be beyond grateful. God never left my side, Jeremiah 29:11.” 

CourtesyJaquelin Romero
Jaquelin Romero
High School: Holland High School 
Central Michigan University 
“This scholarship has opened so many doors for me, and I give thanks to God for such an amazing gift.” 

CourtesyManuel Contreras-soto
Manuel Contreras Soto
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Michigan State University 

CourtesySophia Streur
Sophia Streur 
West Ottawa High School 
Attending: Hope College 
“I am beyond excited to use this once-in-a-lifetime scholarship to focus solely on my studies  without the financial burden. I am thankful to CFHZ and the donors who granted me this jump start to success.”

CourtesyJosephine Suarez
Josephine Suarez 
Holland High School 
Attending: Western Michigan University 
“This scholarship has made my distant dreams become more than just hopeful thoughts. I am so grateful for this opportunity and plan to pay it forward by helping my communities.” 

CourtesyThy Tran
Thy Tran 
Holland High School 
Attending: University of Michigan 
“I owe my gratitude and thanks to CFHZ and the generous donors of the Promise. I never imagined I would have an opportunity to attend college without financial burdens, and I feel honored to be a recipient of this scholarship.” 

CourtesyCristal Felix-Trejo
Cristal Felix-Trejo  
Holland High School 
Attending: University of Michigan 

Learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise at cfhz.org/holland zeeland-promise.
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