Evelyn looks every bit the professional chef in her school uniform just months before earning her diploma in gastronomy. Now that she has graduated, she plans to offer courses to other people in her community who like to cook. September 2021.

At just 14 years old, Evelyn already had the weight of the world on her shoulders.

She lived in the town of Santo Domingo Xenacoj—less than an hour’s drive north of the colonial city of Antigua—with her parents and four brothers and sisters. Her father was a subsistence farmer, finding supplemental work as a tailor whenever he could. Evelyn’s mother was also working 10-hour days in a textile factory to help put food on the table. Even Evelyn was helping contribute to the family, earning $4 a day as a babysitter. Whenever she could, she set aside some of her meager wages to save toward her dream of opening her own restaurant someday.

But with scarce work and many mouths to feed, it was looking increasingly likely that Evelyn would soon have to leave school for good.

That changed in 2019, when Evelyn was selected to enter the Rise Youth Development Program.

Thanks to the program’s supporters, as well as Evelyn’s sponsors, Rotarians Jean and Dennis, she now had access to:

Ongoing Education: Full academic scholarships help keep students like Evelyn in school and on track towards achieving their goals.
Skills for Success: Life skills workshops, community service, and visits to local businesses and universities transform the way students think about their futures.
A Support Network: Rise local facilitators regularly check in with students to make sure they have everything they need to overcome economic and social barriers to continuing their studies.


Now, years later, Evelyn continues to follow her talents and aspirations! Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she had the opportunity to meet her sponsors, who traveled all the way from British Columbia, in person on a CoEd Tour and thank them for the opportunity they’ve given her. Even after travel to Guatemala was suspended, Evelyn continued to stay in touch. In 2021, she shared the following update with her sponsors on how the program had transformed her future:

Evelyn posing for a picture. 2020.

“I want to thank you again for taking the time to read my letter and I also want to thank you for the financial support you provide me with, since it has helped me in my studies, it helped me enormously to continue studying gastronomy, which is what I love the most. I like it because thanks to your financial support I am almost going to graduate, but without your support that would not be happening.


I will always be grateful.


At this moment, I am in my last year of studies, my parents and siblings are very happy because I am about to finish an important goal in my life. I have three younger sisters, my two young cousins and my uncle live with us, nine people live at home including me. I am sending you some pictures of what I have learned in this, my last year, I hope you are satisfied with my performance and growth in this field.”

Photos of some of the delicious creations Evelyn has made during her studies in gastronomy. 2021.

Interested in helping students like Evelyn achieve their dreams?