Nydia’s Graduation and School Choice Story

By Kim Martinez

image1-5Maria and Nydia Salazar immigrated to the U.S. when her daughter Nydia was a small child. Maria came here with the goal of a “better life” for Nydia. She knew a great education was one of the most important ways to attain the “better life” they so badly wanted.

Nydia and her mom made a deal. Maria would work three jobs to support them and Nydia would become a serious student dedicated to her education. Even working three jobs, Maria couldn’t afford to cover tuition at the private school Nydia wanted to attend. Maria searched for an answer and found the Corporate Tuition Tax Credit Program. Through this crucial scholarship program for low-income families, Nydia received tuition funding for all four years at St. Mary’s High School.

“A good education comes with a price and thank goodness for all the help one can receive if they need it,” says Nydia. “I am extremely grateful for the scholarships that helped pay my tuition at St. Mary’s because without them, things would have gone a lot differently and I wouldn’t have received the great education I was given.”

During her four years at St. Mary’s, Nydia worked hard every day to earn good grades, to learn as much as she possibly could and to make her mom proud.

Meanwhile, Maria worked hard every day to support the two of them, keep Nydia in her excellent private school and to never let Nydia fail.

Together, their hard work paid off on May 19 when Nydia walked across the graduation stage in her cap and gown, to receive her well-earned diploma. Nydia graduated with honors, as a one of the top ten students in her class and with a 3.90 GPA from one of the toughest private schools in Arizona.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to a ‘real’ education, and money shouldn’t have to be the main obstacle keeping students like me from having a chance to learn at the best school possible,” adds Nydia.

Through their hard work and the right opportunity to have access to a great school, Maria and Nydia found the “better life” they were searching for.

“Seeing Nydia in her cap and gown and knowing the quality of education she will carry with her through the rest of her life was the proudest moment of my life,” says Maria. “There’s no doubt that her scholarship helped make this moment possible for us.”

Nydia has already started the next phase of her life studying at Grand Canyon University’s Honors College.

Watch Nydia and her mother discuss their school choice journey:

Blog: Hope the Badger State

Kim Martinez, national correspondent for the American Federation for Children is in Wisconsin this week meeting with parents, students and visiting schools to hear firsthand how educational choice is changing lives in the Badger State.

“School visits, sitting down with kids, hearing from teachers, parents and administrators firsthand is such a strong reminder about the power of educational choice,” said Martinez. “Milwaukee is home to the nation’s first voucher program, and for 24 years this program has offered tens of thousands of parents and children with hope – which is why it was fitting to visit Hope Fortis school today.”

Hope Fortis is a K4-8 school that has tremendous success offering low-income minority students with a quality education.

During Kim’s visit she was able to pop into one of the elementary school music classes to hear the students performing.

Hope Kids

Deion on Morning Joe

ICYMI: Deion Sanders stopped by “Morning Joe” to discuss educational choice

May 9, 2014

This morning, Deion Sanders, Hall of Fame football star, NFL Network analyst and star of AFC’s PSA “Educational Choice Now” appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the importance of educational choice and his work with the American Federation for Children.


Click below to see a clip from Deion’s appearance:

Deion on Morning Joe


In case you missed it, our “Educational Choice Now” PSA features celebrities including Sanders, Olympic gold medal winner and former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, NBA star and ABC/ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, Kathie Lee Gifford, Lou Gossett Jr., Vivica Fox, Stephen A. Smith, Keshia Knight Pulliam, “Mary Mary,” Janet Evans, Theotis Beasley, Mary Millben, Laila Ali and Garcelle Beauvais, all advocating for educational choice.