PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- It's been nearly four years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the impoverished country of Haiti. Thousands were killed, including Port Orchard native Molly Hightower, who was volunteering at an orphanage there.
Molly’s college friend Rachel Prusynski was visiting when the quake struck.
“I was never expecting to be involved in Haiti longer than just visiting a good friend from college,” Prusynski explained.
Her visit was cut short when the earthquake struck and the building the two were in collapsed. Prusynski was rescued from the rubble and evacuated home, but Molly didn’t survive.
Prusynski says it made her want to help.
“You don't turn and run away from something like that. It means something,” said Prusynski.
Since then, she has returned to Haiti four times to try and continue Molly's work. Then a generous offer from a University of Portland donor gave her the chance to help honor Molly here at home.
“He mentioned someday that a scholarship from Haiti could happen and so I said ok, well why not and set out to find somebody,” she said.
It's a path that led her to Jean Francois Seide; he grew up in the orphanage where Molly volunteered.
“I just think it's a dream come true because I've always wanted a good education, a really good education,” Seide explained.
Seide was already in Seattle as part of a leadership program and worked hard to get into the University of Portland. He’s now a sophomore and hopes to return to Haiti with a business degree and make a difference.
"My goal is improve education” he explained.
Seide crossed paths with Molly Hightower when she was in Haiti and says he wants to succeed both for her and his homeland.
“I have to do something, not finish what she started because I will never be able to do that, but to do something worth having a scholarship,” said Seide.
Prusynski and Seide share a special friendship. It’s a common bond to make sure something good comes from something that started so bad.