2016 ACE Award Winner

Ebi Reyes came to this country when she was 7 from Costa Rica. Her mother was in an abusive relationship with her divorced husband who was one of the country’s political elite. They were fortunate to be admitted to the U.S., first in New Jersey and then Ohio and Dayton where Ebi says she “really feels a special warmth and welcome to many different people.” Her status here is protected by the executive order on childhood arrivals.

Life has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but Ebi credits her personal success to her mother’s insistence that they be a “dynamic duo” – mom will work so daughter can devote herself to growth and studies. Her grade point averages in school reflect what that has meant. And this was accomplished in the early high school years when Ebi was in poor health, eventually diagnosed as celiac disease complicated by acute anemia. “I was exhausted after school,” she says, “and when vacation came I slept for three days.”

Even with all of this she established a strong record of community service and became a special resource for helping people in the Latin community as an interpreter and translator. “I want to see our community come together as part of the great melting pot of America,” she says. “I hope I can help heal the divisions and rivalries that are problems now.”

She is one of five finalists for a scholarship from the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio. Her big decision now is a career path because her accomplishments, hard work and sacrifices have opened so many doors. A visit to Wright State’s medical school facilities made her doubtful about “a career where you have to work with bodies,” but she’s dedicated to being a “people person” ready to help make better lives for others.

She shrugs off questions about discrimination. “Hard work, faith, respect and kindness can unite us all,” she declares.