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Local high school graduate surprised with $20,000 scholarship

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco High School graduate says thanks to a surprise scholarship of $20,000 through the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce she will be able to live out of her dream of becoming the first in her family to attend a for a four-year university and graduate.

Kim Hernandez, 18, was awarded the annual Bradley Ray Hulse Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of a 15-year-old Waco High student who died in a car accident in 1990.

The scholarship is the largest given through the LEAD program at the chamber, which pairs high school students with business leaders as mentors in the community.

Kim was surprised with the news and the check by a group of LEAD leaders and Hulse’s family as they knocked on the door of her Waco home.

“It was an overwhelming feeling,” she said. “I was ecstatic and also in disbelief.”

It’s a dream come true for the soon to be college freshman who has maintained good grades and been an active part of extra-curricular activities all while helping rear her 2-year old brother, Ian.

“It was not easy to juggle everything because even though I had a few classes they were all AP classes and I’d still have to leave school earlier and pick up my youngest brother and babysit him until my parents got home from work and then I’d go to work right after,” she said.

Kim was a member of the school’s mock trial team, varsity tennis team Interact club, Spanish club, and was the senior class treasurer.

Going to a four-year-university has always been her dream, but she says was simply out of reach without this financial boost.

“Most likely, no. No, because my mom is very reluctant to let me move so having this scholarship is like ‘OK mom I have to go.’ Otherwise she would have said ‘we have no money, it’s not that easy,’ but with this scholarship it reassured her as well,” Kim said.

Joe Nesbitt founded the LEAD program and serves a mentor.

He was also the best friend of Bradley Hulse and so choosing the recipient was extremely personal to him.

“Kimberly is an excellent student who balanced her work life and student life as well as served as a role model to her peers,” Nesbitt said.

“Kimberly was in the LEAD program for 3 years and took advantage of every opportunity it offers. Bradley would be very proud that she carries on his legacy. Her future is bright.”

Kim will attend the University of Houston starting in August where she plans to major in Business and Finance.

She said the LEAD program impacted her more than just the scholarship money as she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her lead mentor, Lisa Hull, who is a Vice President at Trust Officer at Community Bank and Trust.

“I always had an interest in banking but didn’t really get to see it until I was in LEAD,” Kim said.

“I definitely want to tell everyone with LEAD that I’m going to strive to continue forward on this upward path for success and I can only help to give back to everyone who has helped me along the way.”

The scholarship is supported by Central National Bank where Nesbitt is President and The First National Bank of Central Texas where Bradley’s father, Monte, is Chairman and CEO.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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