2009 Edwin Rosas

Chaos and upheaval were always a part Edwin Rosas’ life.  At age seven, he saw his “nice, caring, religious” mother handcuffed and jailed by INS officers. Two weeks later, she was deported to Mexico as a non-U.S. citizen. To add to the turmoil, she had just been diagnosed with kidney and lung cancer and had no health coverage.

The upheaval split up the struggling family as Edwin and his brother – both U.S. citizens – joined their mother in Mexico, while their father stayed in California to continue working as a manual laborer.  In Mexico, Edwin often cried, worried that his mother was dying.  To help pay her medical bills, he picked vegetables after school.   When her cancer went into remission, Edwin felt like a “dark cloud had lifted.” 

During the two-and-half years in Mexico, Edwin’s mother attempted to return to the United States and was finally allowed to join the family in California.

The family came to Minnesota but with limited English and few work skills, his father had trouble finding work.  The family split again and Edwin stayed with relatives in Utah until his father found a job in Minnesota.  All the moving affected Edwin’s education and English skills, and made it hard to keep friends.  His family’s precarious economic situation often forced him to skip meals, sometimes for days.

Edwin says all the adversity has made him stronger and more appreciative of what he has. As his family slowly gained economic stability in Minnesota, he excelled in many areas.

Seeing children in poverty, he began to appreciate the importance of education and the opportunities it brings.  Edwin graduated from Johnson H.S. near the top of his class with a 3.86 GPA. He was member of the National Honor Society, a captain of the soccer team and a letter winner in both track and cross country.   An accomplished violinist, he was named to the Honors Orchestra and performed at the Ordway. He volunteered at his church and spent time tutoring local elementary students.

Edwin attends the University of Minnesota, where he is studying to be a math teacher.

“I want to help students who are struggling like I was,” he said.  “The Beat the Odds scholarship means I can focus more on my education, and less on paying for it.”