Dream Center student earns scholarship to Xavier College Preparatory
Stephanie, 15, first stepped into the St. Vincent de Paul Family Dining Room seven years ago. Her family came for a holiday toy giveaway, but by the time they arrived, the giveaway had already ended.
Fortunately, the director of the dining room saw that they needed help, brought them in, and gave them some of the few toys left. It was there that Stephanie and her mom first saw the Dream Center, an educational enrichment program that runs programming alongside the Family Dining Room.
After seeing the tutors in the Dream Center, Stephanie’s mom decided it was time to start coming regularly. Little did Stephanie know that one day, all her learning and studying at the center would help her gain acceptance into Xavier College Preparatory, a Catholic private girls school in Phoenix.
“I remember every time I went home from [grade] school. I would always ask my mom, “Are we going to SVdP, I need help with my homework,” Stephanie said.
She was always excited when the answer was yes, and she remembers running straight to the Dream Center every time they got to the Family Dining Room.
“They're always willing to help you out,” she said. “I always knew that I was going to get help here because there was always someone who would explain to me my homework and teach me new strategies, and sometimes me and that person will learn a whole new thing together.”
She continued to get more involved and enrolled in the Dream Center’s Summer Learning Program, which spans summer vacation and helps students retain information over the long summer months. This helped her to continue to grow and excel in her academics.
As she grew older, Stephanie decided she wanted to attend a private school to challenge herself academically. Dr. Ken Snyder, the executive dental director at SVdP’s Delta Dental of Arizona Oral Health Center, saw potential in young Stephanie and encouraged her to apply for Xavier College Preparatory. He connected her to the financial aid office at Xavier, where they helped her apply for admission as well as scholarships. She was promptly accepted for both.
“It's not easy to get into [Xavier],” said Stephanie, who is in her freshman year. “It wouldn't have been easy for me to go into that school or even apply without the help from this place.”
A part of the curriculum at Xavier is service hours, and Stephanie immediately knew where she was going to spend her time: Right in the Dream Center, where she received the help that advanced her academically.
Now she spends every weeknight evening at SVdP, helping set up tables for dinner and manning the welcome desk so families receive a warm invitation to the dining room.
SVdP has helped out Stephanie’s family in other ways as well, from food boxes to hygiene products to helping them cover rent at difficult times. She says SVdP even helped her be more social when she had been so shy growing up.
"I like everything about this place," she said. "It's really awesome, and it's a great blessing, not just for my family but for every family that comes here and that needs the help."
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