Most likely to succeed

by Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — At 18 years old, Angelica Perez is practically bursting with dreams for her future. An aspiring psychiatrist, her academic career only starts with college. With med school next, Angelica is in it for the long haul.

As Angelica prepared to graduate from Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park this past spring, she knew that the close family feel and Catholic identity she enjoyed at Miege was what she wanted for her college experience.

“I really enjoyed Miege,” said Angelica. “I knew everyone and all the teachers. . . . I really like smaller groups and smaller class sizes.”

And she needed a college that she could afford.

Fortunately, she discovered a Catholic college — practically in her own backyard — whose small class sizes seemed tailor-made for her. It was a place where students who struggled financially were not an afterthought, but the very reason the college was founded — to increase access for students like her to affordable Catholic higher education.

In fact, she discovered a college that had been the launching pad for generations of area students toward a four-year degree — many of them the first in their family to even attend college.

Angelica discovered Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.

As the youngest of three girls — by about 15 years — Angelica is very close to her dad Ernesto and mom Maura. She and her folks are members of Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee. So when Angelica found just what she was looking for so close to home, her parents were delighted.

Angelica threw herself into the application process and wound up being awarded the school’s prestigious Bloch scholarship, covering 100 percent of her tuition.

The Bloch scholarship will make it possible for Angelica to attend Donnelly, then transfer to the University of Missouri-Kansas City after two years to complete a four-year degree, with her tuition completely covered. To be eligible, she had only to live in the area, have a good GPA, experience financial need and be a citizen or permanent resident of the country.

And the Bloch scholarship is only one of many offered at Donnelly, where 95 percent of associate degree graduates go on to pursue four-year degrees.

Now, with the help of her Bloch scholarship and Donnelly College, Angelica is working toward a career in a field that is expected to see a serious shortage in the future. When she completes her studies, Angelica plans to return to practice in the area in order to give back to the very community that has given so much to her.

To celebrate students like Angelica — and the unique college that makes their stories possible — Donnelly will host its 10th annual SHINE event on Oct. 8 at Arrowhead Stadium North Club at 6 p.m.

But today is Angelica’s day to shine right here in The Leaven. So join reporter Moira Cullings and photographer Jay Soldner as they present a day in the life of Donnelly College freshman Angelica Perez.

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