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A daughter’s legacy: The gift of education

Barb and Gary Strandemo have a true love for Guatemala, and perhaps their deepest connection is through their daughters, Ana and Rosa, whom they adopted from there. Tragically and unexpectedly, their youngest daughter, Ana, passed away a couple years ago. Ana had recently graduated from college at the time of her passing; graduating was an achievement that she held very near to her heart and it was also a remarkable accomplishment given her chronic disease. Her love for education and opportunity is carried on through the Ana Strandemo Memorial Scholarship, which has been arranged by her parents Barb and Gary as a means to honor their daughter and to give Guatemalan youth the chance to study at the university.

The Ana Strandemo Memorial Scholarship provides one scholarship a year to a deserving Common Hope high school graduate who wants to pursue a university-level degree. The scholarship covers tuition for one academic year, and the plan is to increase the amount of scholarships in future years. Barb says that given that Ana was a college graduate, she and Gary felt that creating a scholarship in her honor was very fitting.

For Barb and Gary, it was very important to find a meaningful way to honor Ana. “I guess it all started with such an outpouring of love at the time of her death,” Barb explains, “We had money given in memory of her and we asked ourselves: Where would we like that to go? And Common Hope was of course one of the main places.”

Barb and Gary are very active Common Hope supporters. They have visited Guatemala numerous times, they recently hosted a very successful fundraiser, they have been a part of two Vision Teams and they sponsor a little girl named Jarlyn, who they met on their trip with their daughter Rosa last year. During their Vision Team stays, Barb and Gary had the chance to meet both students who have received scholarships in Ana’s memory. The first scholarship recipient is Luis, an ambitious student who is pursuing his business degree. Barb and Gary met him for the first time last year and visited him again this year. Barb describes him as “a delightful young man who is very motivated and who wants to help his father’s business become more successful.”

In March, Barb and Gary met the second scholarship recipient, Melissa, for the first time. Melissa is a teaching assistant at New Hope school. She works full time during the week and attends classes on Saturdays. Barb says that they had a very special connection with Melissa since she is pursuing her degree in psychology and Ana graduated with a degree in psychology.

Luis and Melissa are very appreciative of the scholarship they received. When meeting with the Strandemos, both were eager to learn more about Ana and the story behind the scholarship. We know that, thanks to the Ana Strandemo Memorial Scholarship, there will be more students like Luis and Melissa who will continue their studies beyond high school—they will go forth with a diploma in their hand and Ana in their hearts.

Gary and Barb with Melissa, the second scholarship recipient who currently works at New Hope School and is pursuing a degree in psychology.

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