|BUSPH Student Katia Gomez Wins $100,000 Top Prize at VH1 Do Something! Awards|
Boston University School of Public Health student Katia Gomez (SPH '13) won the VH1 Do Something! Award for her work in establishing "Educate2Envision," a non-governmental organization that helps educate impoverished children in Honduras.
Her outreach program was featured on national television as one of five contenders for a $100,000 top prize. She earned the most votes from VH1 viewers and supporters of DoSomething.org, which mobilizes teens and young adults age 25 and under to participate in community-based social change projects.
Gomez, 24, is an MPH candidate specializing in international health and plans to use the bulk of the $100,000 grant to continue Educate2Envision's work in remote villages in central Honduras. Children in the region rarely receive more than a few years of formal education. Many end up working in their family's fields, or marrying and getting pregnant as early as 14.
In the village of Pajarillos, one teacher handles the bulk of instruction for grades 1 through 6, assisted by the school director. According to the Educate2Envision site, kindergarten is held in a house rented from one of the families in town, with the teacher often covering the cost of the rental because parents are unable to afford it.
With such daunting odds against them, only 10 students in the past three years have gone past sixth grade, in part because the closest school with seventh and eighth grade classes is a three-hour walk into the town of Cantarranas. Educate2Envision has expanded its work in three remote communities, where Gomez and her co-workers have brought secondary education to more than 450 students.
In an interview for Do Something, Gomez said she was inspired to focus on education while volunteering in Honduras for Spring Break in 2009. She was part of a team of college students working with Global Brigades to improve the water quality in poor rural villages.
During the trip, Gomez saw the effects of extreme poverty in a country where nearly half of the population is 16 years and younger and more than half of all Hondurans survive on only $2 a day. She returned to school to complete her bachelor's degree in international studies and political science from the University of California, San Diego, and then worked as CARE USA's District Chair for the San Francisco Bay Area.
The celebrity-packed awards show was taped on Sunday, Aug. 19 but the winner was not revealed until the actual broadcast on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
In a video shown during the show, Gomez recounts some of her personal story and explained her motivation for creating Education2Envision:
Get More: Do Something Awards 2012