Jacquelynn Olalde is a freshman at Texas Wesleyan, but her family’s connection to the university runs deep.

Olalde, an EC-6 bilingual education major, is the fourth member of her family to attend Wesleyan, and the fourth to be part of the university’s Partnership Speak Up Scholarship. The scholarship requires recipients to have completed studies at both William James Middle School and Polytechnic High School with a minimum 3.0 GPA, according to txwes.edu.

She said that watching her aunts Olivia Olalde, Juanita Olalde and Karina Olalde earn their undergraduate degrees from Wesleyan and pursue careers in education gave her the confidence to be where she is today.

“They showed me that it was within reach, and I could do it, too,” Olalde said.

Juanita Olalde, the third aunt to graduate from Wesleyan and currently an educator at Polytechnic, wrote in an email that, “The Speak Up scholarship allowed me to do just that, ‘speak up,’ as a more well-rounded, knowledgeable member of my community.”

Olivia Olalde, the first aunt to graduate from Wesleyan, wrote in an email that one of her highlight moments at Wesleyan was realizing that her native language, Spanish, was changing the world of education.

“I have never been more proud to be a Latina and be fluent in two languages,” she wrote. “I always knew I had chosen a great career as an educator, but to be able to be a bilingual teacher that made me an educator, and an advocate – that was something beautiful.”

Karina Olalde, the second aunt to graduate Wesleyan, and currently a teacher at Fort Worth’s Alice Contreras Elementary School, said that Dr. Carlos Martinez, dean of Education and professor of bilingual education, made a lasting impact on her approach to teaching.

“One day I met with Dr. Martinez, and he explained how I needed to participate more during class discussion, and emphasized how much more I would get out of his class this way,” she wrote. “It meant so much to me that he would take the time to encourage and push me to meet my full potential, that as an educator now myself, I make sure to look out for my quiet ones and encourage them to use their voice to get the most they can out of my class.”

Jacquelynn Olalde’s younger sister Elena Olalde, 16 years old and a sophomore at Polytechnic, does not plan on pursuing a career in education but hopes to follow in her family’s footsteps and attend Wesleyan on the Speak Up Scholarship.

Jacquelyn said that she wants to spend these next few years in college learning everything she possibly can, and is incredibly grateful for the opportunity the Speak Up Scholarship has afforded her.

“It completely changed my life, and has given me a sense belonging,” she said.

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