Iris La, 2012 McElwain Recipient:
Four years ago, my mom got mugged in a department store parking lot after I had told her I needed new tennis shoes for the upcoming tennis season.
She lost everything, her wedding ring, pictures from her youth, and her happiness.
When the police came they asked me for my name and what had happened. I answered in a small trembling voice, “My name is Iris La and I ruined my mom’s happiness”. Days, weeks and months went by but my mom never blamed me for what had happened, but I knew that it was my fault. If I hadn’t asked for new shoes then she wouldn’t be secretly crying at night after I had gone to bed. That day I vowed to myself that I would graduate from college and buy my mom nice things. I would sacrifice my dreams in order to make her life better.
I worked hard in high school in order to get into the best colleges to accomplish this one goal of mine. I stacked up on AP classes and sports in order to shine amongst my peers. I filled out hundreds of scholarship applications hoping it would ease the expense my mom had to pay. When all rejected me, there was one club that believed in me. It was Key Club.
They believed that I could be successful in college and that money shouldn’t be the stopping factor. The Kiwanis Family helped me more than I could ever imagine. I’m able to call myself a UC Irvine student because of Kiwanis. They accepted me when all else rejected me. They gave me a chance to work hard so that I could graduate with a college degree. They gave my mom a break from paying my college tuition, which allowed her to stop working late hours. They gave me hope that I can make my mom happy.
Til this day, I give thanks to the Kiwanis Family for helping me become the leader I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t be able be a Past Division 25 West Key Club Lt. Governor or the 2012 McElwain Scholarship recipient. Without Kiwanis I wouldn’t be able to say, “My name is Iris La and I’m a Civil Engineering major with a minor in Applied Mathematics at UC Irvine.”