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Learn to Dream is a perfect fit for the Jimenez family

Jessica, Christian and Dulce Jimenez are products of the Learn to Dream scholarship program at SCC.

Jessica Jimenez may only be 24 years old, but she’s already accomplished a lot, and it all started with the Learn to Dream Scholarship at Southeast Community College.

“I knew I had to go to college, and my parents would always tell me I was going to college,” Jimenez said. “This was one less burden for them since they couldn’t afford it.”

Jimenez was a senior at North Star High School in Lincoln when she first heard about the Learn to Dream Scholarship at SCC. Students in Lincoln who meet the financial guidelines would be eligible for the scholarship, which pays for up to 45 quarter credit hours. Since Jimenez did not qualify for many other scholarships, this was a perfect fit for her.

She started in the fall as an Academic Transfer student but soon transitioned to the Culinary/Hospitality program and eventually earned an Associate of Applied Science degree. Jimenez worked a few years at local restaurants and even trained to be a pastry chef at Venue. However, the long hours eventually gave way to a weekday job at Nelnet, where her older brother works.

“Now I work with actual schools and help with payment plans and marketing,” she said about her new role as a higher education account manager. She also transferred her credits to Peru State College where she will work toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“I really like what I’m doing, and I want to build on that, and I know a degree in my pocket will benefit me,” she said.

Shelley Stoltenberg was Jimenez’s success coach in the Learn to Dream program. She remembers her as a very motivated young woman.

“She has a drive to succeed,” Stoltenberg said. “Jessica is the sort of person who sets a goal and nothing will get in her way to achieving her dreams.”

Jessica wasn’t the first member of her family to take advantage of the Learn to Dream Scholarship. Her brother Christian was the first generation in her family to attend college. He received his Associate of Applied Science degree in business administration in 2013. He also works full-time at Nelnet as a project manager.

“My counselor convinced me to apply for it,” he said. “Otherwise I was planning on paying for my tuition and books, working full-time and going to school part-time. After I received the scholarship, I shifted gears and was able to go to school full-time while working part-time. It really helped me get a nice jump toward graduating.”

Younger sister Dulce Jimenez is a senior at North Star and recently applied for the LTD Scholarship.

“It’s so rewarding to see how far some of our students have traveled in their life and career goals,” Stoltenberg reflected. “It’s an honor to watch them grow and get to be a witness to their achievements.”

The Jimenez family moved to Nebraska 20 years ago from Mexico City because the smog there was too much for Christian’s asthma. Her two younger siblings, Dulce and Angel, were born in Nebraska. Jessica said the Learn to Dream Scholarship also is available for students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“I wasn’t eligible for other scholarships because I was a DACA student,” she said. “People are afraid if they apply they will get deported, but dreamers are eligible.”

Jessica is living at home still and helping her parents financially. Since she didn’t have to pay for her education at SCC, she is able to contribute more but hopes to one day live independently.

“I can help my parents with the mortgage, and it’s all because of the scholarship,” she said.

In the meantime, Jessica encourages students who qualify to apply for the scholarship, since there is nothing to lose except college debt.

“If money is a worry, start here,” she said. “Definitely make it your goal to come to college.”


For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher
Marketing Specialist