It’s officially Fall! And you know what that means—no, not pumpkin spiced lattes (but we admit we love them too)—it’s Rise student packet season! The time of year when students in the Rise Youth Development Program get to showcase their accomplishments and share personal messages and photos with their sponsors. Though the packets are digital again this year due to COVID restrictions, the heartfelt notes from these smart and resilient kids still tug on the heartstrings.

See for yourself and read what the talented Evelyn has to say!

Meet Evelyn

Evelyn is a 12th grader, just months away from obtaining that life-changing high school diploma. She lives in the town of Santo Domingo Xenacoj, less than an hour’s drive north of the colonial city of Antigua. Evelyn was just 14 years old when she was selected to join the Rise Youth Development Program, but she already had the weight of the world on her shoulders and was at risk of dropping out.

Her childhood

My parents are illiterate, and we cannot afford much since my family is so large. There are seven of us total– 5 children and two parents. My father is a farmer and his wages are small and unstable. We regularly have to use his harvest to feed our family, and his crops are subsistence. I work as a babysitter and receive $4 a day. This work is very irregular, but I save the money to be able to achieve my dream of being able to open my own restaurant.

My father works as a tailor when he can find work and receives $89 every other week. However, his job is unstable, and when he can’t find work, he grows corn. My father rents a plot of land to be able to grow since he doesn’t have any land of his own. My mother works in a textile factory and has to work 10 hours every day to help our family financially. I am in charge of my younger sisters while my mother works. We don’t have much in our house, and we can only afford a television. My older sister works on her breaks to help pay for her school expenses. Without a CoEd Scholarship, I won’t be able to continue studying, and I will have to take care of my younger sisters.

My favorite subject is Home Economics, because I like to cook. I want to graduate as a professional chef, so I can have my own restaurant.

—14 year old Evelyn

Joining the Rise Program

Soon after joining the Rise program, Evelyn was matched with her current sponsors, Jean and Dennis, Rotarians from British Columbia. Since then, they have met Evelyn on a CoEd Tour to Guatemala and helped give Evelyn access to:


    • Ongoing Education: Giving full academic scholarships help keep students like Evelyn in school and on track towards achieving their goals.
    • Skills for Success: Engaging students in life skills workshops, community service, and visits to local businesses and universities to transform the way they think about their futures.
    • A Support Network: Providing comprehensive support services from mentors, counselors, psychologists, and Rise local facilitators who regularly check in with students to make sure they have everything they need to continue their studies.

Fast-forward to Now

After nearly 4 years of hard work and determination, Evelyn continues to follow her talents and aspirations!

Today, she shares with her sponsors:

Dear Jean and Dennis,


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.

Congratulations Evelyn! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what the future brings for you!