Polk teen receives full scholarship to college after helping farm labor community during pandemic

A Polk County teen just received a full scholarship to Michigan State University after managing to keep up with exemplary grades and helping those in need during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Aracely Rendon solicited area businesses for donations, organized field teams and helped hand out food and hygiene supplies to members of the farm labor community.

Most high school students in Florida perform 100 hours, but the Summerlin Academy graduate in Bartow did 1,000 hours before graduating. She pulled it all off while also taking care of her three younger brothers and sister while her mom, who is a farmworker, worked in the fields. 

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"I feel really great, and I feel really proud of myself because my mom is not going to have to pay anything out of pocket," Aracely Rendon Morales said.

College bills can be astronomical and difficult to pay for any family, especially if you're relying on a paycheck from farmworking, like Rendon's mother. 

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The college scholarship is one of many awards Rendon has received. She also won the first ever National Migrant Education Humanitarian Award, and various other scholarships including ones from Club Hispano and LULAC.

Rendon said she sees the most recent scholarship as a path out of farm work and towards a better future for her and her family.

"I don’t think I am ever going to go there," she said. "And I do pray to God that I take my mom out from working in the fields too."

She hopes to do that by becoming a nurse or a kindergarten teacher.