Photo courtesy SISD
Two high school students in the Socorro Independent School District were surprised with $10,000 scholarships from The Great Khalid Foundation at their schools last month.
Two choir students Ariah Labrado from Eastlake High School and Raul Romero from Pebble Hills High School were the talented recipients selected for the award.
The Great Khalid Foundation’s Performing Arts Scholarship is awarded to two high school seniors pursuing higher education in a performing arts program. Students are recognized for their academic achievements and artistic ability.
The foundation is the namesake nonprofit organization founded by the nationally recognized and multiple award-winning artist and Americas High School graduate Khalid.
Students from across the country applied for The Great Khalid Foundation scholarships and submitted transcripts, essays, and a performance video showcasing their skills.
“Both scholarship recipients are from El Paso, so that says a lot about El Paso,” said The Great Khalid Foundation Executive Director and Khalid’s mother Linda Wolfe. “The fact that we have two singers this year is a testament to their gifts.
Wolfe personally presented the $10,000 scholarships to the students in a surprise visit at the students’ high schools.
The funds for the scholarship were provided by Mattress Firm.
“To look at the videos they submitted showcasing their talent and to read their essays about how they’ve pursued this dream for years and how this money was going to help them in realizing their goals was exciting and something we were glad to be a part of,” said President of Mattress Firm Daniel Longoria.
Walking into the Eastlake theater Labrado said she thought she had been called to do a pre-recording of the national anthem for graduations but was surprised to see people clapping for her, along with the school band and cheer squad, as she walked into the room.
“Walking up I was just in shock and didn’t really know what was going on until I saw the poster, then I realized it was for the Khalid Scholarship,” Labrado said. “It took a while for it to sink in.”
Labrado comes from a musically inclined family and her mother, Liliana Labrado, is the choir teacher at the school.
“Music means so much to me,” Ariah Labrado said. “Through everything I’ve been through in my life I can relate so much of it to music.”
She plans to attend the University of Texas at El Paso to study music education.
Romero had a similar experience. He thought he was going to the Pebble Hills High School theater for an interview with his mom for the district but was so overwhelmed when he entered the room and saw the surprise waiting for him that he barely knew what to do.
“At first I was very confused but then I saw the Khalid sign and it just clicked,” Romero said. “I couldn’t believe that it was for me. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
He said he needed help with the funds for college and pursuing his future education, so he had been looking everywhere and anywhere to apply. He came upon the Khalid scholarship application information not knowing what would come of it.
Romero will be attending Texas State University in San Marcos in the fall to study music education and plans to pursue a career in conducting high school or middle school choir.
“Everybody in the world has a connection to music and that’s why I want to become a music educator to be able to bring out that side of people and for my future students to help them find that passion and that drive that I found at a young age,” Romero said.