Seven local students received scholar awards at the West Las Vegas Library for their exceptional academic achievements and civic contributions. Ricardo Avelar, Alexandria Blanch, Margarita Gallegos, Juan Gonzales, D'Vonye Jackson, Diana Manriquez, and Emmily Paniagua 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 nine years 51 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.
Ricardo Avelar- Ricardo is a current student at UNLV and is pursuing a master's degree in psychology. His goal is to open his own clinic and offer pro-bono services to children.
Alexandria Blanch- Alexandria will be attending nursing school at UNLV in the fall 2019. She is financing her education through her work as a school aide at Elizodo Elementary School. In her free time she assists with the Cheer Club and volunteers at Sunrise Hospital.
Margarita Gallegos- Margarita has plans to study at UNR as a science major, with a goal of becoming a veterinarian. She is a regular volunteer at the West Las Vegas library where she helps make the library a clean space for everyone to enjoy.
Juan Gonzales- Juan is a repeat recipient of the Lawyer Scholar Award and has graduated from UNLV with a BA in Public Adminstraiton. He now plans to attend the School of Public Policy and Leadership at UNLV in their master's program.
D'Vonye Jackson- D'Vonye is a current student at ASU and a past Lawyer Scholar Award winner. He is studying to be a software engineer and volunteers on campus with Change Makers, a group that focuses on local community service.
Diana Manriquez- Diana currently attends UNLV where she is majoring in psychology. Her intention is to get a doctorate degree in psychology to allow her to work in the metal health field. She works as a page at the West Las Vegas Library and volunteers at a family medial clinic.
Emmily Paniagua- Emmily attends CSN with plans to complete her coursework and transfer to Laguna College of Art and Design. Her goal is to become a conceptual artist for an animation studio. In her free time she continues to build her art portfolio and volunteers in her community.