Stefany Santos, a Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet senior and future University of Pennsylvania alumni, became the second recipient of the Liza Farrow-Gillespie Intrepid Young Women Scholarship award.
Mita Havlick, executive director of the Dallas Education Foundation (DEF), surprised Santos with a big $10,000 check and a public recognition in front of her peers while she was in class last Friday.
“It took a lot of work these past four years. I really wanted to make sure that I was doing my best, and to see it pay off means so much,” Santos said. “I’ve learned how to come out of my shell. I was really shy and have learned to socialize and go outside of my comfort zone, and I’ve had teachers here who have supported me and helped me reach my goals.”
2021 is the first year that DEF awarded the Liza Farrow-Gillespie Intrepid Young Women Scholarship, named after the co-founder of the law firm of Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter. Jim Thompson, a client and a friend of Liza Farrow-Gillespie and the main scholarship donor, wanted to honor the legacy of Farrow-Gillespie, who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer. DEF awarded the inaugural scholarship to Law Magnet senior Hanan Yousuf on May 5.
“The lead donor of the scholarship was at last week’s scholarship ceremony,” Havlick said. “He was just moved, not just by Hanan’s words, but what the Law Magnet has accomplished in the last several years and what you guys have done collectively. And he offered another scholarship for another recipient.”
In the most recent reports by U.S. News and World Report, Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet holds the seventh place in the Best Texas High Schools and 59th in the national rankings. The rankings include data on nearly 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Santos is planning to go to The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to study finance this fall. She was awarded a full-ride, four-year scholarship through QuestBridge, a program that supports exceptional low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities.
Beside being a dedicated member of the Law Magnet Mock Trial team, Santos has helped organize food and clothing donation drives at her school and volunteered for the last three years at Genesis Women’s Shelter, a shelter for single mothers and victims of domestic violence.
“I’ve learned that, if you ask for help, a lot of people are going to be willing to help,” Santos said. “When you first start working on a project, it seems scary because you don’t know who is going to support you. But you never know who is there for you until you ask. Going through this project, it’s amazing to see how many people are willing to be on your side.”
Santos is a proud daughter, an older sister and a descendant of migrants from El Salvador. She wants to study finance and go to law school. She dreams of becoming an attorney, moving back to Dallas and returning the favor by helping other students achieve their dreams, the same way a community is helping her now.