MOUNT VERNON – Although they never met, the lives of Shayla Martin, who died in the Cascade Mall shooting, and Skagit Valley College student Martha Cuevas will be forever intertwined.
On Wednesday night, Cuevas became the first winner of the college’s Shayla K. Martin Memorial Scholarship, which was established in September by Martin’s daughter, Tanya Young.
“I’m so happy it’s going to someone who it would make a difference for,” Young said.
Martin, 52, was one of five victims in the September 2016 Cascade Mall shooting. The other victims were Belinda Galde, 64, of Arlington; Beatrice Dotson, 95, of Kingsport, Tennessee; Chuck Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens; and Sarai Lara, 16, of Mount Vernon.
The $500 scholarship was not the only one Cuevas, a sophomore nursing student with dreams to attend the University of Washington, was awarded Wednesday. She was also awarded a $3,000 scholarship for students who are the first in their families to seek higher education.
“My parents came here to this country for us to have a better education,” Cuevas said. “So for people to be helping me get that higher education is just wonderful.”
Cuevas did not apply specifically for either scholarship, but was instead chosen for them by a committee assembled by the Skagit Valley College Foundation.
“I feel really honored,” Cuevas, a Burlington-Edison High School graduate, said of winning the Shayla K. Martin Memorial Scholarship. “I didn’t think I would get such an honorable scholarship like that, especially from my town where it happened.”
The scholarship is endowed and will likely grow in size each year, said Anne Clark, Skagit Valley College vice president of college advancement.