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MPS senior wins one of 20 national scholarships from Hispanic Leadership Institute

A South Division senior is one of 20 national scholarship winners.Jesús Ruiz Villamil, a senior from South Division High School, couldn’t believe it when he got the call during lunch at school as he was on his way to say hi to a teacher. It was the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute calling to tell him he was one of 20 students from across the country to receive a scholarship to the college of his choice. 

“This is a big thing for me,” said Jesús, who moved to the United States from Colombia with his parents and grandfather (his grandfather has since returned to Colombia). Jesús began attending South Division High School as a freshman in 2020. 

“I’m really thankful. I’m really, really surprised,” Jesús said. He was one of about 1,000 applicants for the 20 scholarships, for $1,000 each. 

He and 25 other students in the MPS Black and Latino Male Achievement program traveled to Chicago in mid-February to attend the Hispanic Leadership Institute’s annual national conference, where Jesús was presented with the scholarship at a luncheon and all the students could attend workshops and forums. Students were given the chance to interact with college recruiters, future employers, and policy makers. 

Besides South Division, the students were from Milwaukee School of Languages, Marshall High School, Riverside University High School, Bradley Technology and Trade School, and Washington High School. 

During the trip to Chicago, the MPS students made campus visits to Loyola University and to the University of Chicago. Thanks to a donor, all the students were able to bring with them suits to wear on their stops in Chicago.  

Jesús, who takes dual enrollment classes with Marquette University, received the scholarship application from his BLMA adviser. “He was by my side all the time” to offer guidance in applying for the scholarship, Jesús said. 

The senior has been accepted at Marquette and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he said. He also has applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and New York University.  

Jesús still is exploring his career path. He’s thinking of majoring in political science with a goal of someday becoming a college professor but also is interested in majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish. 

Jesús said he was pleased to win the scholarship for another reason, in addition to the help paying for college. The representation — as a Latino and as an immigrant — is important for other young adults in his shoes to see, he said.  



Stephen Davis, Media Relations Manager
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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • Ninety-four percent of 2022-23 budget dollars go to support schools;
  • The MPS Class of 2023 earned $121 million in scholarships and grants; and
  • MPS is home to five of the state's top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report.

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