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Meramec Students Win Danforth Scholarship

Two students from St. Louis Community College-Meramec were selected to receive the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship by the Women’s Society of Washington University.

Orquidea Campbell-Espinoza and Curtis Willi will receive the two-year scholarship that will cover their full tuition upon their arrival at Washington University. In addition, each will also be awarded an Ida H. Early Start-up Grant, which provides them a one-time award of up to $2,000 for indirect educational expenses such as housing, supplies, books and other expenses to assist with their transition as a first-year student at Washington University. 

Orquidea Campbell-EspinozaCampbell-Espinoza is finishing her studies in the graphic design program, and has been accepted at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University to pursue a degree in communication design with an emphasis in illustration. 

“I was ecstatic to learn that I was a finalist for the scholarship,” she said. “I was honestly a bit shocked by the whole ordeal—and still am—since I wasn’t sure if I would even get accepted into Wash. U. in the first place.” 

Campbell-Espinoza came to STLCC-Meramec through the A+ program and was named to the dean’s list in the spring, summer and fall of 2021. She also served as the vice president of communications and treasurer for the Phi Theta Kappa honor society chapter at Meramec, and works part time as a swim instructor. She also participated in New Art in the Neighborhood from 2016-2020—a nationally-acclaimed studio art program that provides art instruction from resident teaching artists, museum staff and visiting artists at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. She represented New Art in the Neighborhood at the National Teen Conference hosted by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. 

“I’m still deciding on what I will specifically pursue post-grad,” she said. “But I am interested in children’s media, animation and design.

“I am so excited for this next chapter in my life, and I want to emphasize how much these past two years at Meramec have helped me grow as an artist,” she added. “I know all that I have learned from my professors and peers will be put to good use.” 

Curtis WilliWilli plans to major in finance at Washington University’s Olin Business School, with a focus on portfolio management. His plans after that are to work toward becoming a chartered financial analyst while working as an equity analyst. 

“Then I plan on getting my MBA and eventually work as a portfolio manager,” he said. 

Willi is also a member of the PTK honor society chapter at Meramec and serves as the student representative for Pathways to Success. In addition, he is a member of the President’s Student Advisory Council. 

His postsecondary journey began in 2015, but stalled out before coming back again several years later. 

“When I came back in fall 2020, I wasn’t very confident in my abilities to come back and do well in school, never mind getting into Washington University and being awarded this scholarship,” he said. “I worked hard to get my GPA back up to 3.9 after being away from school for four years.” 

Representatives from Washington University and the Women’s Society interview and select the scholarship winners. Founded in 1965, the Women’s Society of Washington University was established to enhance mutual understanding and interaction between Washington University in St. Louis and the St. Louis community. 

“I’m immensely thankful for the opportunity that the Women’s Society of Washington University has given me to change the trajectory of my life and I am grateful for the support they showed at the annual meeting,” Willi said.

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