Roosevelt High School senior Eduardo Sanchez Beltran on March 16 was awarded a $4,000 “Beat the Odds” scholarship from the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) – Minnesota. Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak accompanied Sanchez Beltran to the awards event, held at The Depot in downtown Minneapolis. Sanchez Beltran was one of four students chosen from almost 100 applicants across the Twin Cities.
CDF – Minnesota recognizes four local teens annually who have overcome extreme adversity including painful family separation, poverty, illness, loss of family and abuse to succeed in school and life.
At age six, Sanchez Beltran and his family came to Minneapolis from Mexico in search of a better life for the family. That supposed betted life did not come without peril.
His family lived in a single room sharing one bed for four people and his parents each worked two jobs and were rarely home. Walking to the school bus stop alone with his brother each morning through a violent and dangerous neighborhood brought continuous fear and anxiety. When Sanchez Beltran was 11 years old, he was caught in the middle of a gang shootout while sitting in his father’s truck. Bullets hit the truck’s windshield, broken glass pierced Sanchez Beltran’s skin and he said was afraid he would die.
Three years later, eight gang members shoved a gun in his stomach and held a knife to his neck. He survived, but developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Sanchez Beltran withdrew and had difficulty concentrating and socializing. He sought out help and through counseling and theater courses at Green Central Community School and Roosevelt High School, he learned to cope and began to pursue his dreams. Pillsbury House’s theater program became his second home. On stage, Sanchez Beltran said he forgot his troubles and became someone who was not troubled or scared. Offstage, his friends and mentors helped guide him beyond his terrors and toward a hopeful future.
Sanchez Beltran continues to participate in theater, is president of the National Honor Society at Roosevelt High School, volunteers and helps his father in his construction work. Sanchez Beltran has been enrolled in international baccalaureate courses at Roosevelt and will graduate with a 3.7 GPA. He will be the first in his family to attend college and is considering attending Loyola University or North Central College in Naperville, Ill. to study journalism. Sanchez Beltran wishes to, “serve as a role model for other young people who have to overcome difficult challenges.”
“It was really a remarkable thing to stand up there to be recognized with three other students whose stories were amazing,” said Sanchez Beltran of receiving the award. “I learned early on that only I could choose my future and I chose to make the most of my experiences in school.”
View the video produced by the Children’s Defense Fund on YouTube: