Laycee Guerrero of DeWitt County was recently named one of the four winners of the Victoria College Foundation’s “What’s Your Story?” scholarship essay contest.
It took just one day on the job teaching 3- and 5-year-olds at the DeWitt-Lavaca Special Education Foundation for Laycee Guerrero to realize which direction she wanted to take her life.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Guerrero wrote in her “What’s Your Story?” scholarship contest essay. “When I entered the room, I was greeted by crooked smiles, laughs and excitement that a new face was in their presence. I knew at that moment I would do anything to ensure these little people would get my all.”
Guerrero, 22, received a $1,000 scholarship after her essay was selected as one of the four winners in the Victoria College Foundation’s contest. The Yorktown High School graduate has completed 60 credit hours of study at Victoria College and plans to transfer to the University of Houston-Victoria to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
Guerrero, who worked for the DeWitt-Lavaca Special Education Foundation for almost three years, said her decision to become an educator was reinforced by a Victoria College instructor.
“I was always passionate about teaching, but I took a class with Dr. Deb Crislip-Baker as the professor, and she just motivated the fire in me,” Guerrero said. “It made me want to be like her. I looked forward to going to her class every single session.”
Guerrero, who has three younger siblings, is also motivated academically by her family.
“It’s my parents’ and grandparents’ dream to see me graduate,” Guerrero said. “That helps push me to continue. I also want to be an example for my brother and sisters. I want them to know they can also achieve this.”
Guerrero also wrote in her essay about how children often find themselves marginalized and excluded.
“My education is for the classmate that could not afford new clothes, the student that is set aside because of their social status, the child that was born with a disability out of their control, and for every parent that wakes up praying for a safe environment for their children,” Guerrero wrote.
Guerrero said she was surprised when she found out she had won the scholarship and that the essay allowed her to express how her experiences have changed her.
“I was in tears. My mom was in tears. It was just an overwhelming feeling,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero, who said she chose Victoria College because of its proximity and small class sizes, persevered this spring through the distractions and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was taking online classes to begin with, so it didn’t really affect me too much,” Guerrero said. “I did come to face-to-face meetings with my professors. It was sometimes frustrating not to have that face-to-face contact, but the professors did a great job of coping with all the challenges.”