Sophomore only Texan to receive national scholarship

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Nursing sophomore Kristen Teneyuque is one of six Seed to Tree Scholarship recipients provided by the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators. Teneyuque is a first-generation college student, and she was one of 64 applicants and the only student in Texas to receive the $1,000 scholarship. V. Finster

A sophomore will graduate with three associate degrees.

By Kimberly Caballero

Nursing sophomore Kristen Teneyuque, who will graduate in May with three associate degrees, is one of six students nationwide chosen to receive a Seed to Tree Scholarship from the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators.

The 29-year-old with a 3.14 grade-point average is the only student from Texas to receive the $1,000 scholarship.

The Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators “exists to support the work of the nation’s Hispanic-serving institutions as they seek to provide quality, relevant educational opportunities to large and growing numbers of underserved populations, particularly Hispanic students,” according to the organization’s website at

She will attend the alliance’s 10th annual Best Practices Conference March 25-28 in Chicago to accept the scholarship.

“I’ll be giving a speech about coming to a Hispanic-serving institute and how that’s influenced my education,” she said in a Feb. 19 interview.

Nursing Instructor Tonya Maunsell said Teneyuque did well in classes and was a leader during labs.

“In the clinical courses, she would kind of step up and take the lead to help all of her classmates through whatever process it was we were doing,” she said.

In December, Teneyuque set aside time from studying for finals to apply for the scholarship, an application process that took about four days.

It is the first major scholarship she has sought.

The application required three essays, a letter of recommendation and a letter of good standing from the nursing program, along with other documents.

On the morning of Jan. 17, Teneyuque checked her email for AHSIE announcements to discover she was one of six Seed to Tree Scholarship recipients.

She and her boyfriend, Jacob Herrera, were excited when they found out she had won the scholarship, Teneyuque said.

A first-generation college student, she comes from a family that did not prioritize education.

“Nobody really cared if I went to college or not. My mom wasn’t like, ‘You better go to college,’” she said. “I didn’t have that pressure from my family. I think I just saw how hard I lived and how we struggled day-to-day.”

Dressed in black scrubs and prepared to embark on hours of clinicals Feb. 19, Teneyuque stressed the importance of education, which she also stresses to her daughter, 10-year-old Kaylie Cruz.

“The only way I’m going to get ahead in life is by going to school,” she said. “College education means everything. You look at the statistics, you look at everything as far as income levels, and a high school diploma really won’t get you far these days.”

Raised by her mother and grandmother, she has seen her father only a few times throughout her life.

The support system she had throughout college has helped her stay committed to her journey.

There are times Teneyuque’s mom babysits Kaylie when she has exams to study for or her boyfriend provides words of encouragement.

Her mom is “really excited” her daughter is pursuing three degrees and reminds her to “keep moving forward, get it done and hang in there,” she said.

“My mom is really happy I got this energy of wanting to pursue higher education,” she said. Graduation is around the corner for Teneyuque.

She will graduate with an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and an Associate in Applied Science in nursing.

She plans to enter the RN to BSN program this fall at Texas Tech University to earn a bachelor’s degree and potentially go for a master’s degree in nursing.

Teneyuque shared advice for students who may feel overwhelmed juggling school and work.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “There’s been times I get off of work at 10 o’clock at night and then I have assignments due at 8 o’clock in the morning and tests the next morning. It’s a lot, but you’ve got to get through it. The sacrifices we make today are going to be for (our) future.”


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