It's the ultimate case of turning a tragic event into something positive. On Saturday, a Reno High student received a scholarship honoring two people who were victimized by one of the area's most devastating crime sprees.
It's a tradition that started 13 years ago following the murder of an Hispanic immigrant and a local teacher. A call to secret witness helped solve the case, but instead of accepting the reward, the responsible caller opted to create a scholarship fund in the victims' honor.
On Saturday, 17-year-old Marco real became the latest beneficiary
The special ceremony at the University of Nevada, represented the end of one long journey for Real...and the beginning of another. The 17-year-old came to Reno from Mexico, just three years ago, with little knowledge about our culture or language.
"I didn't speak English," says Real. "It was hard for me, but my teachers encouraged me to continue and give my best with everything I do."
Soon, Marco was well on his way and maintaining a 3.7 GPA with the goal of one day becoming a teacher. His situation is a perfect match for the Secret Witness scholarship, which seeks to help out students who are typically Hispanic; goal oriented; and interested in education. Those were the qualities shared by murder victims Kathy Powell and Thelma Davila. Now, Marco Real hopes to fulfill what they set out to accomplish.
"I feel so happy because this scholarship will allow me to continue my education. I feel so happy and i don't know how to describe it."
About 20 other students from high schools all over the Truckee Meadows also received scholarships, but Marco Real's honor came last. Secret Witness founder Don Richter presented Marco with the check, while his parents and brother looked on. Without question, the moment belonged to the Reno High senior.
"I was a little bit nervous, but not too much," says Real. "I'm really happy, that's all I can tell you about this day."
In the fall, Marco will attend the University of Nevada, where he will major in secondary education. He wants to be a Spanish teacher and help other students, just like his teachers helped him.