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Two 2021 Scholarship Recipients Awarded Four Years of College Tuition Plus Living Expenses

The Doug Miller and Don Sanders Scholarship (DMDS) Fund is pleased to announce the fund’s 2021 scholarship recipients: Litzy Martinez and Sarisma Valdivia. The fund has granted these scholars four years of college tuition and all living expenses as well as a semester abroad. Each scholar was selected after displaying remarkable academic achievement, extra-curricular participation, and community service.

The DMDS Scholarship Fund was founded in 2019 by widows Colleen Sweeney and Kathy Butler to honor their husbands’ memories. The fund is dedicated to lifting disadvantaged students up - in a very different way from most other grant programs. Recipients are given everything to ensure success. Besides tuition, living expenses, and a semester abroad, the fund covers other necessities, such as laptops and software, dorm room design and decoration, clothing, meal plans, and health needs.

“We are so excited to work with these two wonderful women,” said Colleen Sweeney. “Unlike our 2020 scholarship recipients, who entered college under COVID restrictions, we have high hopes that these students can look forward to a typical freshman year.”

Valdivia graduated from North Houston Early College High School with a 4.66 GPA. She served as treasurer of the National Honor Society, where she helped organize fund raisers and school events, including assembling care packages for our community’s homeless population. She volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House where she provided food for chronically ill children and their families and organized social events for them. She also volunteered at Highland Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and Homeless Shelter where she assisted the center’s population. In addition, she worked at the food pantry at her church, St. Charles Borromeo Church. Valdivia will attend the University of Texas where she plans to major in engineering. In her words, “I aspire to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and work alongside medical professionals focusing on cancer treatments based on immune system response. With this, I will satisfy my passion for engineering and helping patients with deadly diseases.”

Martinez graduated from Carnegie Vanguard High School with a 4.26 GPA. In high school, she participated in extracurricular activities like the cross-country track and field team. She also organized a chapter of the Thirst Project Club, an organization that educates students about the global water crisis. She served as a mentor for Women Inspiring Social Harmony, a group that mentors underprivileged girls to empower them to be leaders and prepare them for a high school curriculum. In addition, she served as a tutor for Limitless Minds, where she tutored 4th and 5th grade students in math during the pandemic. Martinez has a particular interest in photography and her photos were chosen by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for exhibition. Martinez will attend Texas A & M University where she plans to major in nutrition. In her words, "I am studying for a bachelor's degree in Nutrition with hopes to found a wellness center that will focus on the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. Ultimately, my goal is to encourage healthier living."

“What a wonderful opportunity it is for us to work with such exemplary young women,” says Kathy Butler. “These scholars have proven their ability to succeed in the face of numerous challenges. They are ready to take on the challenge of higher education and we are so happy to partner with them as they make this journey.”

The Scholarship Committee would also like to recognize the finalists who each receive an award of $2,000 to help with college expenses (pictured below from left to right): Alexa Leon, Fatima Olivares, Sidra Hassan, Ivre Cooper, Dillon Willis, and Selemat Kalifa. “They are all fantastic young people and, if we had the ability to do so, we would have supported each of them on their college journey,” said the founders. Indeed, we wish all of the applicants much success with their college efforts.

The Fund is seeking donors who support the power of higher education. To become involved, please contact or visit


The Doug Miller & Don Sanders Scholarship fund provides Texas high school graduates the lifetime opportunity of advanced education free from financial worries or a lifetime of debt. Recipients are granted four-years of tuition, living expenses, and a semester abroad. For more information, please visit


Maddie Profilet

Founder & CEO, Madhouse Media

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