Seven local students received a two-thousand-dollar scholar award at the West Las Vegas Library for their exceptional academic achievements and civic contributions. Daniela Flores-Bello, D’Voyne Jackson, Luis Gonzales De-La Mora, Diana Manriquez, Caleb Martin, Emmily Paniagua and Ivon Martinez each received a Tom and Bonnie Lawyer West Las Vegas Scholar Award presented by Tom Lawyer, board member of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Foundation.
Tom Lawyer founded the award program when he received a presentation from West Las Vegas Library staff at a Foundation meeting in early 2010. “What struck me most was that this library was much more than books – it was a learning place, an achievement zone,” he says. “I noticed that these library staff viewed their work as a ‘calling,’ not just a job. The West Las Vegas Library is a true community hub.” In honor of this exceptional staff spirit, Tom and his wife Bonnie launched the award program in 2010 with a pledge to fund five scholar awards for five years to local youth pursuing higher education. In the past eight years 44 scholar awards have been given, with the Lawyers stepping up far beyond their original commitment. “Every year, we see an abundance of talented local applicants with big dreams,” says Lawyer, “and we found a way to fund more awards.”
This year’s award winners are no exception. Many are the first to attend college in their families and all have not only made tremendous strides in their personal development, but they have also made immense community contributions.
Daniela Flores-Bello- Daniela is a three-time past scholar award winner and is currently in her fourth year at UNLV. She is pursuing a degree in Radiography and with plans to continue her education with a second degree in Public Health. Volunteering has played a major role in Daniela’s life since middle school where she first volunteered at the West Las Vegas Arts Center. She is presently an employee of the West Las Vegas library and says she is able to apply what she learned as a volunteer in her everyday work.
Luis Gonzales De-La Mora- Luis graduated from Canyon Springs High School where he ran track and cross country, was on the wrestling team, and a member of the National Honor Society. He is interested in becoming a professor of Political Science and is currently working on starting a Junior State of America Chapter at Canyon Springs. This is a national student-organized effort to get its members involved in the local community as well as voter registration drives. Luis was a student in Stanford’s Junior Statesman program and volunteers for the Reading Buddies program at the West Las Vegas Library.
D’Voyne Jackson- D’Voyne will be attending New York University in the fall pursuing an education in Computer Engineering with plans to obtain a PhD from MIT. At age six he fell in love with hands-on development and is now proficient in coding and programming for a large range of projects. He served as President of the robotics club at Advance Technologies Academy and made the cover of UNLV’s Spring magazine for his scientific research in the field of engineering. Last summer, as an intern at UNLV’s DEX labs, he developed augmented reality apps and autonomous flying drones. D’Voyne spends much of his free time volunteering in his community. He hosts events to advocate for minorities in engineering fields as an ambassador for his high school and coaches baseball at the Doolittle community center.
Diana Manriquez- Diana graduated from CSN High School and is currently a sophomore at UNLV where she is majoring in Psychology and doing research on disorders of the brain. Diana is a member of the Sigma Omega Nu sorority which allows her to be very active in the community. Volunteering is nothing new to Diana who has been helping out at the West Las Vegas library since 6th grade, working with young children to improve their math and reading skills. Diana is also an intern at the North Las Vegas Airport, which she credits for improving her skills in communication and organization.
Caleb Martin- Caleb graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts as a theater major and will be attending Columbia College Chicago Honors Program in the fall. At the Academy he was involved in six different productions and is currently a cast member of Animal Farm at the Majestic Repertory Theater. Caleb studied at the New York Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts in the summer of 2017 and is an active member of the Gang Intervention Team here in Las Vegas. Caleb first worked at the West Las Vegas Library as a Clark County Summer Business Institute intern where he assisted with the performing arts camp. He is proud to have the library as an integral part of his life.
Ivon Martinez- Ivon graduated from West Prep High School and will be attending UNLV in the fall. She is proud to be the first person in her family to attend college. She has in interest in becoming a Dental Hygienist, believing that there is nothing more beautiful than having strong, healthy teeth and a great smile. Ivon has volunteered at the West Las Vegas library since elementary school, helping students with arts and crafts, computer work and basic literacy and math skills.
Emmily Paniagua- Emmily graduated from West Prep High School and will be attending the Cleveland Institute of Art this fall. Her goal is to continue her education and work at Pixar as a concept artist. Emmily has been engaged at the West Las Vegas Library since 2015 where she volunteered in the Reading Buddies program. Since then, she has been hired as a part-time page where she incorporates her art into the workplace by designing eye-catching book displays.