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Four Minnesota High School Seniors Honored for Beating the Odds

March 16, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – Four high school seniors will be honored tonight by the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota for overcoming major challenges.

Among the Beat the Odds award-winners is Anne Sinner of Como Park Senior High School, St. Paul. Her childhood was filled with poverty and hardships – a father in prison, a mother with a debilitating disease, a sister who was molested and a cousin who was murdered. Today, Sinner is in the top ten of her class and planning to attend college.

"I guess why I turned to education was because I knew the only way I could ever depend on myself was if I got an education, and was able to find a career I was passionate about, and never have to depend on anyone else."

Of course, Sinner is not alone in having to deal with extreme adversity as a child. For others in similar situations, she says, one key is to focus on what you enjoy.

"Once you find your passion and what you're meant to be, that propels you through life no matter what, because if it's truly what you are meant to do, nothing will stop you at doing that."

She will receive a $4,000 scholarship, as will the other winners: Raymond Perez, also of Como Park Senior High; Lashay Thompson, Highland Park Senior High School, St. Paul; and Eduardo Sanchez Beltran, Roosevelt High School, Minneapolis.

This is the 20th year of the Beat the Odds program. According to Amy Crawford, regional director of the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, they have awarded nearly a half-million dollars in scholarships to more than 300 students in that time. Some of the past recipients will be on hand tonight, she adds.

"Many of them point to this Beat the Odds scholarship as being a transformational moment in their lives that has propelled them forward to pursue careers – in the nonprofit arena, in government. We are so proud of the accomplishments, and ways that they are continuing to give back to the community."

The ceremony is Fri., Mar. 16 at The Depot, 225 Third Ave. South, Minneapolis. Reception begins at 6:00 p.m.; dinner and awards at 8:00 p.m. Information about the event is on the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota website.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN