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Moving Into Higher Ed: How Being Awarded the Thompson Family Scholarship Will Help a Recent Graduate


Image of Semira Jara wearing graduation cap and gown
Semira Jara (Class of 2022)

Semira Jara was one of GAP School’s top students academically in the 2021-2022 school year. As a member of the Healthcare Careers Pathway, she obtained her PCA certification, completed a several months-long Certified Nursing Assistant Training, as well as Clinical Experience with GAP School’s employer Partner, Sholom Community Alliance (Nursing Home). Semira regularly volunteered with Episcopal Homes and participated in all of GAP’s community service projects. Over the course of her time with GAP School, she developed clear goals and expectations for herself, one of which was to receive a scholarship for college.


At the end of her experience with GAP School, she was awarded the Thompson Family Scholarship which is now helping fund her post-secondary education. The Thompson Family Scholarship began in 2019 in honor of long time Board Chair Karen Thompson. Every year, one student recipient is selected based on their academic and training performance. All of Semira’s teachers and trainers agreed she had wholeheartedly earned this award.


As Semira starts the next chapter in her life, she will attend school at Saint Paul Community College and enroll in classes to complete her 2-year Associate’s Degree in Phlebotomy. She is working full-time as a care taker for a family member and has even received a wage increase since exiting our program. After she completes her Associate’s Degree, she plans to move on to complete her 4-year degree at the University of Minnesota. Semira would not be able to accomplish these goals without her experience and time in GAP School’s YouthBuild program. She is thrilled to be taking steps towards a higher education and our educators at GAP School can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.


Health Pathways Transition Coordinator, Erika Thurston, was able to ask Semira some questions and learn her thoughts about her time at GAP School and what she is excited for coming up. Read Semira’s thoughts below:


What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at GAP School?

SJ: “Journaling in Miss Laura’s class about our life and childhood and sharing with each other and learning from other students really taught me that you can accomplish anything if you have people to support you and a strong work ethic. Listening to other students talk about their struggles and backgrounds reminded me of how no matter where you come from or how many challenges you have had, you can build a life for yourself and accomplish your goals.”


What excites you most about moving into higher education?

SJ: “I am most excited about learning how to build a successful career and hopefully start a business in which I can better serve my community. I am so passionate about giving back to my community that has allowed me to accomplish my goals. I want to continue to discover more about the power of journalism and hopefully make a difference in the world.”


How did/will earning the Thompson Family Scholarship impact your plans after high school?

SJ: “When I found out I got the scholarship I realized that I could do more with my plans after graduation. I planned to go to community college, but with this scholarship, I can also pay for all of the books I will need and supplies and other materials for any training I pursue. My family and I felt that I needed to find more sources of income if I would be able to manage college without more financial support. My entire family is grateful for the scholarship I have received and can’t wait to see what comes from my next chapter.”


​Congratulations, Semira!

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