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Sisters launch scholarship fund to help immigrant students

WATSONVILLE (CBS SF) -- Paying for college is a hurdle many families face, but a group of sisters inspired by their own experience as daughters of immigrant parents are helping students achieve that dream.

Meet the Rosales sisters, Elizabeth, Olga, Christie, Nancy, Adriana and Veronica, daughters of immigrant parents who grew up in Watsonville.

Their parents, like many immigrants, came to California dreaming of a life that gave their children more opportunity. They worked hard at it, often getting by paycheck to paycheck and saving money where they could.

"To think there was six of us, and a matter of fact, I did not get a Quinceanera because they would have to give that to the following daughter," said Elizabeth Castillo, as she talked about the financial sacrifices her parents made raising their children.

Their parents, Abel and Maria Rosales, were originally from Zacatecas, Mexico and were both the oldest of large families and childhood friends.

Abel's father was part of the Bracero program that allowed him to come to California to work the farmlands for part of the year. Abel would also make the journey with his father, but always kept in touch with Maria through letters. Eventually he would return to Mexico to find her, marry her, and move to the Central Coast.

Helping their girls achieve a higher education was a goal for the Rosales family, but it wasn't always easy. Not only did they have to figure out the college application process, but they were also focused on their legal status in this country.

"They were always struggling with immigration status and figuring out the nuances of being in a new country," Olga said. "It was always a thing and that was always bigger than FAFSA and Scholarship!"

The Rosales sisters were determined, and worked hard to figure out the process. All would go on to pursue a higher education. The experience would lead to the Rosales Sister Scholarship -- a foundation that helps first generation and immigrant students living in the Central Coast with financial and emotional support as they pursued a higher education. The organization was inspired by their father.

"He passed in 97, so in 2019, it was the 20th year of his passing, we were sitting around at dinner and thinking about what we could do to honor him." Olga said.

When asked what they thought their dad would say if he was here to see what they've achieved, they all smiled as they responded.

"He would say, 'sin miedo' 'without fear', in spite of fear and we are just trying to get to that $32,000" Olga said.

Last year the sisters raised $16,000, and they hope to double that this year. In fact, all the money they've raised so far has been done virtually due to COVID, but this Friday, April 29th, they will be holding their first in person event at Oakstop in Oakland.

For more information about the scholarship or their upcoming event head to<a href=""></a>

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