Bright Spots / Celebrating Excellent Scholars: Annahi Donjuan


Bright Spots

Celebrating Excellent Scholars: Annahi Donjuan

In our ongoing work to develop a skilled workforce in Dallas County that can command living wages, we want to pause to celebrate wins along the way.

Annahi Donjuan graduates from UNT Dallas in spring 2024 with a bachelor’s of science in public health and a minor in psychology. Her story illustrates the determination of a young scholar and shows how policymakers, administrators and teachers work together to make the education journey a success.

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I have been in Dallas since I was born. I'm the first on both sides of my family, my mom and dad, to obtain higher education. And there's a lot of pressure. There’s more responsibility for the oldest children, because I also help raise my [two] siblings. I consider myself one of their guardians, so I want the best for them, but sometimes it is so hard to accomplish that.

What expectations did you have for your education and career?

My parents always said higher education can get you a better salary, better job. But prior to getting my work-study position, I was thinking I should get a job because my parents need the pay the bills.

I feel like we Hispanics, especially in my family, we're very close. We live in the same household. So job positions, from my perspective, are opportunities that are given to you not only to get the experience, but also to help you and your [family].

It was a decision whether my [two] siblings would go to school or I would go to school. So I decided to attend [with the Dallas County Promise] in order to start saving for my siblings.

How has Dallas County Promise helped you?

It kind of made my dreams come true because at first, I thought I wasn’t going to obtain higher education. My parents haven't been saving, I haven't been saving. I haven't been working because I've been taking AP courses, dual credit courses. But through my own hard work and by going through the process of dual credit and then taking multiple classes to catch up, especially since my second language is English, I graduated from both Dallas College and my high school in 2022.

Dallas County Promise gave me help toward a last-dollar tuition scholarship. [That] helped me pay the majority. Then I entered work-study and it helps me pay the rest.

It has been very helpful to me, especially with my manager. She has given me a lot of skills and especially guidance. Sometimes you need that person, a mentor to guide you through the process. Especially when you're the oldest or you're the first child, you don't know much about what college is expected to be.

But now that I have my job, which is being a tour guide at UNT Dallas, there's not much pressure on the work position.

Why did you choose public health for your major?

I chose public health because I want to help people. I aspire to help the community in terms of health, but I also don’t want to be helping directly, like doing injections or performing surgery. For me specifically, that's too much responsibility — having a life on my hands.

It also correlates with being a tour guide and informing people. I'm actually the one who first implemented Spanish tours in my university. Especially with first generation students...their first language is not English.

I am being a leader by going through the process with them. Culture, languages, personality, all of those are things that sometimes people don't take as seriously. I want to inform people so they can have the best health, be the best of themselves, either health-wise, environmental-wise, or diet-wise.

Is there a teacher who made a big difference in your life?

The most inspirational teacher was my elementary music teacher, Mr. Drews. He was there when I was being bullied...when I was going through difficult situations, losing my grandparents. He was always there to support me. He also helped me learn how to play guitar and get into choir. He helped me develop the personality that I have today.

Sometimes you need someone, at least one person, to tell you that you can do it. You can follow your dreams. Don’t care what other people say to you. You are the best in my eyes. I was blessed to have that person at the very starting point, from kinder all the way to fifth grade.

And I kept in contact with him until his retirement. I'll never abandon you if you ever help me. That's my personality and mentality...that’s what we do in our family.

The Dallas County Promise Program supports students in navigating their best-fit postsecondary options. Promise Scholars can be offered a last-dollar tuition grant to help reduce financial barriers present in accessing a postsecondary education at partner colleges and universities. Learn more about their work.

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