Four High School Seniors Named 2013 "Beat the Odds®" Award Winners by Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota

May 15, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Children's Defense Fund–Minnesota (CDF-MN) will recognize four local high school seniors who have overcome extreme adversity including homelessness, poverty, illness, loss of family, and abuse to succeed in school and life. The four students will receive $4,000 scholarships at CDF-MN’s 21st annual Beat the Odds awards celebration on Friday, May 17 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus.

“These four Beat the Odds honorees have courageously and resiliently overcome more in their young lives than most of us will endure in a lifetime,” said CDF-MN Interim Co-Director, Alexandra Fitzsimmons. “No child should endure these hardships, so while we celebrate their successes, we must also dedicate ourselves to ensuring that Minnesota’s children don’t have to overcome such extreme adversities. In each of the honoree’s lives there were caring adults, including family members, coaches, school counselors and teachers, who encouraged them and made sure they not only survived, but thrived. Hearing these young people’s stories reminds us that all our children are precious and that it is our duty to remove the obstacles so that no child has to beat odds. Making sure we provide all children with the supports they need and deserve to grow up healthy and happy is how we can truly honor these four students.”

The 2013 Beat the Odds scholarship winners who will be honored at Friday’s event are Maria Cruz Mendiola and Rachel Flores both of Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Dorothy O’Berry of Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul and Salina Samaniego of Humboldt High School in St. Paul. In addition, 10 finalists will receive $500 scholarships. They are Brianna Black, Dominiqu Khammarath, Kalley Kay Leithauser, Day Day Paw, Cleopatria Rosario, Pawchua Xiong and Jamey Xiong of St. Paul and Cydney Coleman, Anita Saidu and Breanna Wilson of Minneapolis. These students were chosen out of more than 100 applicants across the Twin Cities.

The Beat the Odds event will begin at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and reception, followed by the dinner and awards presentation at 7:35 p.m. Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund Founder and President, will be the keynote speaker. Angela Davis, WCCO Anchor, This Morning, will emcee the evening. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry will present the awards to the students. Minnesota Vikings player Chad Greenway and former Vikings players Chris Liwienski and Ben Leber will lead the Fund-a-Scholarship.

This event is open to the public. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

Beat the Odds is sponsored by Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP; UCare, Thomson Reuters, Delta Dental, and UnitedHealth Group and presented by we are fallon. The volunteer chairs are Robert and Angilea McNae and honorary chairs are Ellie Lucas, Ted Spooner, Maggie Thurer and Simon Stevens.

Media Contact

Stephanie Hogenson

Outreach Specialist, CDF-MN

612-978-7365 c