Gratitude comes naturally to Jenny Aguirre. “I’ve been lucky enough to always have a roof over my head, but there was a time we lived without electricity, without hot water, and that was tough.” Through her young eyes, she saw the world as few do. “When I was a child, we didn’t have a car, so I would walk everywhere; one of my biggest goals is to help homeless people.”

A born observer, Aguirre watched and listened to her mom, “she would always tell me to do my best in school, to put my best foot forward.” And she paid attention when her teachers and peers talked about the future. “I honestly didn’t know college was a thing until I heard people talking about it in 4th grade. I thought, ‘what in the world is a bachelor’s degree and associates degree?’”

At 9 years old, Jenny Aguirre’s view of the future shifted. She wanted to go to college.

Fast forward a few years, the Ragsdale student was looking ahead to high school graduation, facing quarantine in a global pandemic, and putting her gifts to work as a team member at a High Point Chick-fil-A. “My college search was basically me alone. I didn’t have much guidance, and I didn’t even consider High Point University until one of my colleagues mentioned it, and I’m super grateful for her.”

There it is again. Gratitude.

With a great ACT score on her resume, and encouragement from family, friends and those co-workers, Aguirre went after a scholarship. “Ever since I found out what college cost, getting a full-ride was a big dream of mine.” A dream that became reality with the Say Yes Guilford scholarship.

“My mom was so proud of me,” Aguirre recalls.  Her work family was equally proud. “They taught me the importance of being there for each other. My Chick-Fil-A family, I love them so much.”

Aguirre is putting the observation skills she honed as child to good use as a freshman at HPU, and not just in the classroom. “It’s really important to be empathetic to others and listen to other’s worries because we’re all going through things. There are always other people struggling.” We’re grateful that she’s paying attention.