Marfa students awarded Big Bend Sentinel scholarships

MARFA — The Big Bend Sentinel has awarded its annual scholarships to two graduating seniors of Marfa High School, Alyanna Hernandez and Tais Chanez. In an exceptional, unique year, these students have overcome obstacles to graduate during a global pandemic. It is only fitting that this year’s two $500 scholarships have been awarded to students who are planning to study in the medical field.

The student applicants this year proved that there is a bright cohort of students graduating from Marfa High School’s Class of 2020, heading to great things in the next steps of their journeys.

Both Hernandez and Chanez are bound for Sul Ross State University to pursue careers in the medical field, and the pair stood out for their descriptive abilities as they both envisioned where their educations would take them in life. The two will be studying full time this coming semester, no matter what challenges they face as their new school adjusts to life with coronavirus.

In her application, Hernandez said that while coronavirus upended her senior year, it also deepened her desire to pursue an education in the medical field.

“We weren’t given a warning, no preparations as to how to approach any of this,” she said of the onset of coronavirus during her senior year spring break. “Thinking back, I would never think this would be how I spend the last few weeks at Marfa High.”

“My plans were to attend Sul Ross State University and pursue a career in the medical field,” Hernandez wrote. “My goal is still that but on a more serious note, watching this pandemic has ignited my desire to be on the front lines more than ever.”

Hernandez says she has thought about being a doctor since elementary school, but since her freshman year, she has set her eyes on medicine more resolutely. She hopes that an education at Sul Ross’s new nursing program will be the first step in determining where in medicine she plans to go.

Hernandez received two other scholarships toward her Sul Ross education: the Ernest Chavez Memorial Golf Scholarship and the Polson Memorial Scholarship.

As for Chanez, the graduate finished high school in three years, along with raising her 18-month-old son. “I’m excited for this new chapter. My son is getting older and he requires more time, and I want to spend more time with him. I have morning classes, and in the afternoon I’ll be free to work and take care of my son. And meeting new people is a great thing too.”

It was actually her childbirth that inspired her to pursue medicine. “I really chose nursing after I gave birth, because the nurses I had when I gave birth were so amazing,” Chanez said in an interview. She hoped to play that role for others one day.

“I want to be a nurse, specifically a neonatal nurse or a labor and delivery nurse. I just know I want to work with babies and with moms,” she said. “Maybe during the process of getting my nursing done, if I find a certain area I’m more interested in, I’ll be happy as long as I’m just a nurse.”

Chanez also received scholarships from The Marfa National Bank, the Marfa Live Arts Crown scholarship and the Marfa Rotary Club.

“This scholarship would be going towards my education to help me pursue my future career, nursing, without having to worry too much about having financial issues,” Chanez wrote in her application. “I am looking forward to attending school and becoming somebody in life, especially for my son, so receiving this scholarship will be an incredible lift into reaching my goals.”