The Women’s Empowerment Award is unique to Soroptimist International of Rio Vista and their commitment to women and girls in this community. The $1,000 award addresses a gap in the club’s typical awards – specifically, women who are out of high school who struggle to achieve their educational and career goals. Soroptimist international of Rio Vista is proud to present a Women’s Empowerment Award to two deserving young women – Jessi Walker and Amanda Lopes.
Meet the 2022 Women’s Empowerment Award Recipients
Jessi Walker is a 3rd generation Rio Vistan. She is currently studying Psychology, but her other passion is the culinary industry. She has had some family hardships that slowed her educational pursuits, but she managed to stay in school and was able to achieve a 4.0 and be awarded the Honors Gold Medal.
Because of her achievements she was recruited to attend St. Mary’s College. She was awarded an honors entrance scholarship and started in 2019.
For the past 3 years, she has been working part-time as a Behavioral Interventionist for children who have autism at Easter Seals Bay Area. She is working towards her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is paying her way through school solely on her own with her scholarship, and personal loans.
Recently she was hurt at work and was on disability, which has caused some overall stress in her life. However, she is still more determined than ever to graduate. She even applied to a Master of Leadership program at Saint Mary’s for the fall of 2022 and was just informed that she has been accepted! Her goal is to get a position at Easter Seals. She wants to make a difference in how communities interact with families.
She wants to make sure that everyone feels as comfortable as possible despite our differences. Whether it be language barriers, cultural differences, and even educational differences. Having a bachelor’s in Psychology helps her to understand the inner workings of families and people as individuals and going on to a Master of Leadership program helps train her to be the leader that these families need. Working as a Behavioral Interventionist has already allowed her to change many lives and it is incredibly rewarding.
Winning the WEA scholarship will help her towards some financial obligations and will help her achieve all her goals. She has been in school for 11 years now and plans to continue her education no matter how long it takes.
Amanda Lopes is currently attending Grand Canyon University to achieve her dream of graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently working in Rio Vista at D.H. White Elementary School as an Instructional Assistant for Special Education. She has been working in the district for over 2 years now and has enjoyed every single day supporting and helping the children in the community.
Her passion for caring for children started back when she was just a young girl. She was just 6 years old and started helping her mother in the preschool programs. She would spend her time assisting with the preschool programs and setting up the classroom. Since those moments she knew she would follow in her mother’s footsteps in wanting to become a teacher and help children succeed and grow.
After graduation from the Rio Vista High School, she knew she wanted to go to college for her teaching degree. Finances were always a struggle, and she knew she had to pay for her own education. She decided to attend Solano Community College because she could stay close to her family and work part-time. She spent 5 years studying and completed 71 units of General Education and Early Childhood Education courses.
It wasn’t until June 2021 that she decided to take the leap of faith and apply to Grand Canyon University to achieve her long-time goal of becoming an Early Childhood Education teacher. She was so excited about the opportunity of being accepted into GCU because this finally meant she could achieve the dreams she had always wanted to ever since she was a little girl.
Though getting accepted into Grand Canyon University was a wonderful accomplishment for her, the financial hardships seemed to creep in again. She is currently paying for each course at Grand Canyon University. While scrolling on Facebook Amanda saw a post about an opportunity to apply for the Soroptimist International Rio Vista WEA. She believes it was a blessing from God to be in the situation she is in now and is so ecstatic to be a WEA winner. She is so grateful to have been born and raised in a small town that cares so heavily for its community.