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Latino State News

Only Latino Student At Chicago High School Wins Gates Scholarship

Three and a half years ago, Eder Cruz-Alvarado transferred to Leo Catholic High School and became the only Latino in the all African-American student body, and next Sunday, as he prepares to accept his high school diploma, he will still stand out, but for a different reason.

At the school’s graduation ceremony, Eder will be recognized as the school’s first recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which is an all-expense paid education at his college of choice.

Before Eder transferred to Leo, a small Catholic school of just 150 boys, he did his research. With his single mother working in a factory, and Eder working at discount store just to make ends meet, he was looking for an affordable and good education.

Leo’s admissions director, Mike Holmes, who is also dean of students and football coach, said he remembers the say he met Eder and showed him around the school.

“I told him this was an all African-American school. He said, ‘I don’t care. I’m just looking for a good education.’ That showed me a lot of character,” Holmes said.

Now 18, Eder has a 4.18 gpa in the honors program, ranks third in his class, is president of the student council, a member of the chess team, and a former member of the boxing team. He plans to attend Valparaiso University in the fall, and expects to major in mechanical engineering, with the specific hope of one day moving to Germany to become an engineer for BMW.

When at a school assembly, his fellow students learned of his scholarship, the room erupted with cheers.

“The kids were so proud of him,” said Principal Philip Mesina. “They were clapping. They were cheering.”

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