Joel Escobar, a senior at Chavez Schools Parkside High School was one of ten recipients of the 2017 Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship, which gives selected students a full-ride scholarship to The George Washington University, located in Washington, D.C. Joel has attended the Chavez Parkside campus since the 7th grade. Not only has he excelled academically, but he has also been a student leader in and outside of the classroom. As a student, Joel has maintained a 4.1 GPA while taking the most rigorous course load available including honors and AP courses. He is the Class of 2017's valedictorian. Joel even aced college-level courses at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's Scholars Program.
As a student leader, Joel is co-captain of the varsity soccer team, member of the Computer Club and Simon Scholars Program. Outside of school, Joel is an advocate for domestic violence survivors and works a part time job to help support his family.
On the day of the surprise, Joel was in his AP English Literature course like any other day. At about 8:45am, the President of The George Washington University, Dr. Knapp, Director of Admissions, school mascot George, Joel's Principal Mr. Massey and a bevy of photographers entered his class to congratulate him as a winner of the SJT Scholarship. To say Joel was surprised was an understatement. Joel had been suffering from the flu earlier in the week but made it to school to hear this amazing news. Even his father and mother were in attendance -- one in person the other via FaceTime, to celebrate this huge accomplishment. There was not a dry eye in the room as his mother congratulated him on his monumental achievement. Joel said the Trachtenberg scholarship has lifted an amazing weight off of him and his family's shoulders and he plans to major in Computer Science when he goes to college.
Students are nominated for this award by their high school counselors and participate in an interview process before being chosen. All D.C. residents graduating from an accredited public, charter or private high school in the District are eligible. To date, 166 students have been provided with these scholarships, which covers tuition, room and board, books and additional fees. Ninety-two percent of students receiving this scholarship has graduated.