The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Dreams can come true

A family and a congregation assist with education for prisoners' children

Being a teenager is difficult enough. It’s especially tough if you happen to be a “PK.” You are monitored for what you do, whom you know and what you say. Where others’ dreams are realized, yours may not be. It isn’t fair.

Now you may think “PK” stands for “pastor’s kid.” But in this case it means “prisoner’s kid.”

With help from the Kay T. DeMichele
With help from the Kay T. DeMichele AngelTree Scholarship Fund, Ilse Inzunza, 18, looks forward to a “full college experience” and a future in journalism. The scholarship, administered by Love of Christ Lutheran Church, Mesa, Ariz., gives youth with incarcerated parents a chance to attend college.
“In junior high I wondered how I would ever be somebody with my dad in prison,” said 18-year-old Ilse Inzunza, who lives outside of Phoenix in Mesa, Ariz. Inzunza’s father has served time in jail for various offenses since she was 4 years old, including a three-year sentence for domestic violence.

When she graduated from Mesa High School, Inzunza shared one bedroom of her aunt’s house with her mother and 15-year-old brother (they had to leave their apartment when money became scarce).

Difficult as her family life has been, she never let it affect her. Inzunza consistently earned a 4.0 grade point average starting in seventh grade, where she enrolled in English Language Program classes and later in accelerated course-work in high school. She is a National Honors Society student.

Inzunza served on the high school yearbook staff, co-captained the pom and cheer line for two of the three years she participated, and organized clubs to assist children in need. The list of her accomplishments continues.

“I always doubted I would go to college,” Inzunza said. “We simply couldn’t afford the loans.”

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February issue


Embracing diversity