Daniuschka Rengifo

Rengifo feels blessed to be at K-State studying in a prestigious program and credits scholarships and the help of others for making it a reality.

Tears filled Daniuschka Rengifo’s eyes as she spoke of the sacrifices her parents make so she and her younger sister can get an education. Just three years ago, two weeks before her 16th birthday, Daniuschka and her family fled their home in Caracas, Venezuela, seeking shelter in Overland Park, Kansas, where Daniuschka’s grandmother lived. Her parents were vocal critics of the Venezuelan government. Because of their political activism, Daniuschka’s mother was kidnapped by pro-government forces who threatened the lives of her family. The Rengifo family couldn’t stay in Venezuela — it wasn’t safe — so they fled to the United States seeking political asylum.

Daniuschka’s parents left behind successful careers and a good life. Her father owned his own company and her mother was a manager of the company where she worked. Now her father works as a custodian.

“There are no bad jobs for anyone,” Daniuschka said, “but after you’ve had a professional career, it’s not what you wish you were doing. The same with my mom. My parents will need to get further accreditation for better jobs, but for now, my parents are putting their dreams on hold so they can put my sister and me through college first.”

Daniuschka, a freshman majoring in architecture in the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, feels blessed to be at K-State studying in a prestigious program. She credits scholarships and the help of others for making it a reality.

“Two weeks prior to school, it looked like I might not get to come to K-State because I didn’t have the money to pay my tuition,” she said. “Thankfully a lot of people helped me find scholarships, which are crucial because of my resident status. We are here legally, but getting our paperwork is a very long process. Because of that, I can’t apply for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) loans, which puts me at a big disadvantage to pay for school. Also, my parents and I don’t have a credit score because we don’t have a long work history in the United States. I am at K-State because of scholarships and because a family friend co-signed a loan.”

Daniuschka’s determination to get a college education is paying off. After her first semester at K-State, she received academic honors for having a GPA of 3.75 or higher. She is working hard to fulfil her dream of becoming a licensed architect and to give back to those who helped her.

“I want to give back to my parents, and also, I want to give back to my community. They didn’t have to help me, but they did anyway,” Daniuschka said. “I want to help people who are in similar situations to mine. Being at college opens you up to so many opportunities and a much different quality of life. Knowledge is power. My main goal is to graduate and help others do the same, and if possible, help the people in my home country.”


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