Shine Project helps Valley students pay for college

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A jewelry business in the Valley is helping first-generation college students pay their tuition.

Ashley LeMieux is the mastermind behind The Shine Project.

It started with a college scholarship program and has expanded into a jewerly company called Threads.

"It really just is a great reminder for people to look at their wrist or their neck every day and realize, not only am I wearing something that's pretty, but I personally am helping someone have a better future because of my one little purchase," LeMieux said.

"It's really helping me get through college," said Francisca Salazar, who has been with The Shine Project for three years.

She pays for her classes at Arizona State University and is the first in her family to go to college.

"It means a lot just because I'm the oldest of three girls and just to set the example for them," Salazar said.

Salazar wants to go to law school when she graduates.

Gabby Huerte is studying business management at South Mountain Community College.

"I'm the first to actually graduate from high school itself, so going on to college is a big step," Huerte said.

With every bead strung, there's a story to tell of the young lives behind the bracelets and the woman making college dreams come true.

"They're really paving the way for the rest of their lives, so it's been exciting to watch them grow," LeMieux said.

The bracelets, necklaces, earrings and T-shirts run from $14 to $28.

The Shine Project is looking to hire eight more students. 

If you'd like to apply or to buy, go to www.theshineproject.com.  

The people making the bracelets and necklaces are The Shine Project scholarship recipients, snagging from $500 to $2,000 to go to college and landing a $10-an-hour job making jewelry.