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Five DMACC Students Will Receive Scholarships This Semester

Five DMACC students recently received matching $500 scholarships each from DMACC and DREAM Iowa. The recipients include: Francisco Caballero (left to right) of Des Moines, Ehshee Thawber of Des Moines, Lesly De La Cruz-Luevano of West Des Moines, Elodie Embala of Des Moines and Bahati Eleson of Des Moines.

Scholarship recipients can receive up to $1,000 thanks to the partnership agreement.

The principal requirements for the DREAM Iowa scholarship are that the student be a high school senior or enrolled in college, demonstrate the spirit to overcome adversity and commitment to our immigrant community.

DREAM Iowa Vice President Nilvia Reyes Rodriguez said scholarship applicants must also write an essay of 1,000 words or less answering the following: “As an individual, how have you overcome adversity and how do you (or will you) provide support for our immigrant community?”

The scholarships are awarded in the fall semester with the next application deadline scheduled for May 1.

The five DMACC students who recently received scholarships in the fall, their hometowns, majors and immigrant backgrounds are:

· Elodie Embala, Des Moines, firefighter, Congo · Bahati Eleson, Des Moines, nursing, Congo · Lesly De La Cruz-Luevano, West Des Moines, accounting, Mexico · Ehshee Thawber, Des Moines, Social Work, Thailand · Francisco Caballero, Des Moines, Liberal Arts, Honduras

“DREAM Iowa is thrilled about this partnership we have forged with DMACC,” Nilvia Reyes Rodriguez said. “All of the students selected truly embody the immigrant spirit, and we hope that by eliminating barriers to funds for these students, they are better able to focus on their education and their college experience."

DMACC Office of Community and Global Engagement Director Ahmed Agyeman said these scholarships will truly benefit these DMACC students.

“This scholarship takes away some of the financial concerns students face while attending college and needing to work full-time to pay for living expenses and support their family,” DMACC Office of Community and Global Engagement Director Ahmed Agyeman said. “It gives students more time to study and volunteer in their communities, and gives them the motivation to work even harder to excel in college.

Bahati Eleson, who graduated from Hoover High School in Des Moines, is enrolled in DMACC’s nursing program and is one of the recent recipients of the DREAM scholarship.

In her essay that she wrote when applying for the scholarship, Eleson described the challenges she and her family experienced living in a refugee camp.

She said she was born in a refugee camp called Nyarugusu, located in Tanzania. She lived there for 16 years when her parents fled the Congo due to the civil war there.

She said refugee life in Tanzania was extremely difficult for her family and many others. “It was difficult for my parents to allocate food for me and my five siblings,” Eleson said. “Many refugees lost their lives when they became sick because there were no good health care services available to refugees. We had no sanitized drinking water or electricity. There was a lot of sickness and disease, and to make matters worse, there wasn't enough medicine to cure all of the sick people.”

When she moved to the United States four and a half years ago, she said she was excited to continue her education despite the challenge of learning a new language.“The reason I chose to become a pediatric nurse is so I can be able to help others in the future and make their health more stable,” Eleson said.

She said this scholarship is making a huge difference in her life. “This scholarship is very important to me because it will reduce some of my tuition bills and will make me focus more on my studies instead of working at the same time,” Eleson said.

For more on the DREAM Iowa Scholarship click here or go to For more on the DREAM Iowa Scholarship partnership, contact Nilvia Reyes Rodriguez, at or Ahmed Agyeman at

About DMACC Des Moines Area Community College, a public institution serving the educational and career training needs of Iowans, is committed to the lifelong success of its students. Situated in one of America’s most vibrant regions, DMACC offers 200 programs, certificates and transfer degrees, annually serving more than 70,000 credit and noncredit students on six campuses and six learning centers. Thanks to college-wide innovation including Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), new programs and affordable tuition, DMACC continues to experience solid growth. For more information, please visit About DREAM Iowa DREAM Iowa was co-founded by sisters, Mónica and Nilvia Reyes, in 2012 shortly after DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was implemented as a social media group aimed at uniting immigrants and allies. DREAM Iowa became a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 2018 in order to build sustainability in the efforts to stimulate and carry forward the gradual shift for immigrant Iowans from generational poverty to generational wealth. DREAM Iowa carries this vision out through our scholarship programs, annual youth leadership summit, financial capability seminars, and documenting the immigrant Iowan experience. For more information, please visit

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