Join us in congratulating our 2020 Washington, D.C. Beat the Odds® honorees!
Please join us in celebrating these five incredible young people whose resilience, academic excellence, and commitment to social justice inspires us every day. Help us wish them well as they begin their journeys to college.
Adeolu is a role model in his community whose thoughtfulness shines through in everything he does. He is a first generation American whose parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria. Members of Adeolu’s family struggle with mental health issues, straining the family’s relationships and resources. Despite these challenges, Adeolu has taken on responsibility to help care for and support his family, while remaining dedicated to his school work in a rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum. For the past several years, Adeolu has worked at an after school program in his community for children ages 3-13 and has become a patient teacher, caring mentor, and trusted friend to the children he serves. Adeolu plans to attend college and study to become an engineer, and is committed to returning to give back to the community where he grew up.
Diana is a shining example of the power of courage and determination. After a difficult childhood in El Salvador, Diana came to the United States as a teenager and began her freshman year in high school knowing no English. Not only did Diana become fluent in a matter of months, she graduated high school in just three years and earned a full ride to George Washington University, where she is currently enrolled as a freshman. Diana has used her voice to advocate for more inclusive, fair and humane treatment of immigrants in her community and across the country. Diana hopes to become a social worker or immigration lawyer focused on supporting immigrant children and youth in their transitions to life in the United States.
Caleb is a living testament to the fact that you should never assume how strong a person is from the outside. Caleb was born with cerebral palsy and in kidney failure due to a rare condition called Prune Belly Syndrome. For most of his life he has undergone dialysis three times a week, yet has maintained more than a 3.5 GPA and an active extracurricular schedule. He is an avid comic book and video game fan, writes fiction for his school newspaper, participates in archery, and gives back to the community by volunteering with Children’s National Hospital. In January of this year, Caleb underwent a life-changing kidney transplant. Looking ahead to a bright and healthy future, Caleb aspires to be a criminal justice lawyer or an English teacher.
Jazmen is a bold leader whose contagious smile and optimistic spirit lift up everyone around her. She has faced challenges no child should encounter, including abuse by a family member as a child and the sudden death of her father in 2018. Through these experiences, Jazmen has become a strong advocate for herself and for others who face similar situations. Jazmen is also dedicated to her academic success, extracurricular activities and athletic endeavors. She serves as the captain of her basketball and volleyball teams as well as playing on the lacrosse team at her high school. Inspired by her own experiences, Jazmen plans to obtain both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work so she can help children who need support, just as she was helped in her journey.
Mikaela has proven that when passion combines with purpose, anything is possible. Mikaela came to the United States as a child with her mother in search of a better life for their family. Even as they encountered discrimination and sometimes struggled to find stable housing, Mikaela worked hard in school, taking full advantage of the educational opportunities available to her in America. Motivated by the realities she saw around her in school and in her community, Mikaela founded clubs at her high school focused on female empowerment and equity for immigrant students. She has also organized community events to raise awareness about social justice and immigrant rights. Mikaela plans to become an immigration lawyer to continue fighting for all people to have a fair shot at the American dream.
Write a Note of Congratulations to the Honorees
This year’s Beat the Odds honorees are headed to college and bound for success! Share a note of congratulations and best wishes for Adeolu, Diana, Caleb, Jazmen, and Mikaela here.
Make a Gift in Honor of the Class of 2020
Your gift to the Children’s Defense Fund today will ensure we can continue the fight to break down the types of barriers no young person should never have had to face.