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Soroptimists looking for women to help
In the Live Your Dream scholarship program
Mireya Martinez Ruvalcaba (center) received the most recent Live Your Dream scholarship program award earlier this year from Denise Wickham (left) and Amy Peterman. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Mireya Martinez Ruvalcaba will never forget how an award of cash and other assistance from the Soroptimist International of Ceres impacted her life in a big way. A year ago she was picked as recipient of the Women's Opportunity Award with $1,000, which helped her earn her degree which gave her full-time employment with the city of Ceres.

Now an administrative assistant at La Rosa Elementary School, Ruvalcaba is encouraging other women to apply for the program which is now called the "Live Your Dream" Award. The local Soroptimists will be awarding two cash prizes of $1,000 each to two women to help provide support as they seek to improve their lives through education. The due date for applications is Dec. 5.

Ruvalcaba was the second awardee last year. A full-time single mom of three children, she has held it together despite challenges and hardships. She said her early life struggles stemmed from marrying too young, being a teen parent and enduring emotional and physical suffering. She returned to school as a half-time student in 2006 while working two part-time jobs early on. Because of a lack of money and childcare, and a desire to be available for her children, Mireya often took breaks in studying. When she joined the CUSD in 2014, she left her husband while maintaining a strong and positive façade while often staying late at work to cry away from her children's eyes, said Amy Peterman who presented the award. Martinez is studying at Modesto Junior College and plans to go on to pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology at Cal State University. Her desire is to work in student support services.

"It's been a challenge but I have a great support at work," Ruvalcaba said. "They're not just coworkers. They're more than that - they're my family."

She also thanked her children for enduring while she meets their needs while working and studying.

"This scholarship will help me move forward. It will help me pay for tuition and expenses to move on to Stan State and continue. I don't have to stop."

To be eligible for the award, female applicants must:
• Provide the primary financial support for their self and dependents, including children, a spouse, a partner, siblings and/or parents;

• Have financial need;

• Be enrolled in or have been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program;

• Be motivated to achieve education and career goals;

• Be without a graduate degree.

• Have not previously been the recipient of a Soroptimist Women's Opportunity Award or Live Your Dream Award.

• Not be a Soroptimist member, employees of Soroptimist International of the Americas or immediate family of either.

• Have a Social Security number or Tax ID number (only necessary if a resident of the United States).

Applications may be found at website may be submitted electronically. Interested applicants may also email Amy Peterman at to receive an application and reference form.