May 12, 2022; For Immediate Release
Contact: Ashley Colburn, Executive Director, Don Diego Scholarship Foundation

Don Diego Scholarship Foundation is elated to announce that it has awarded $55,000 in college scholarships to 18 high-achieving students of great promise.

Scholarships in an array of categories were offered to students who reside in San Diego County and have participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Don Diego Chair Juanita Hayes states, “The rising cost of higher education, combined with economic uncertainties resulting from the pandemic, makes affording college a daunting challenge for many families. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are able to ease the financial burden and assuage anxiety so our ambitious and accomplished scholarship recipients can soar into bright futures pursuing their goals.”

The Scholars will be feted at Don Diego’s June 24, 2022 Gala and Sam Hunt Concert at the San Diego County Fair. Tickets are available at


Ethan Rockwell of Valley Center captured a total of $11,000; winning a $5,000 4-H Scholarship, $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship, and the coveted $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship awarded annually to the most outstanding applicant. He will matriculate at South Dakota State University.

Ethan reports, “I will major in Natural Resource Law Enforcement and minor in Wildlife & Fisheries Science so I can achieve my dream career of being a Conservation Officer/Fish and Game Warden; helping both the environment and people.” This earnest environmentalist says, “I want to make a difference in this world, helping to protect wildlife and preserve their habitats.”

Ethan’s passion began at a young age, where he garnered “an appreciation for plants and animals. I grew up playing and working on our small family farm, participating in 4-H and FFA, and enjoying the outdoors.” A recommender praises him, saying “Ethan is quite well known and respected in the local agriculture community for his knowledge, showmanship and character.” In addition to being a leader and excellent student, he has been active in school sports and volunteered to help his community.

Abigail Cotton is not merely a straight-A student; she graduates as Valedictorian of her Valley Center High class. She attained an amazing 4.8 GPA tackling a challenging AP honors curriculum while working, volunteering, excelling in varsity cross-country, and becoming an award-winning legend at the Fair. This Valley Center Greenhand Chapter President won Don Diego’s $5,000 Drown & Morrison FFA Scholarship plus a $3,000 Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship. She will attend Blinn College; majoring in Animal Science on her way to becoming a livestock veterinarian.

This bold leader who says, “I have refused to let anyone define what I could achieve,” intends to contribute to research in the cattle genetics field. She says, “I am incredibly passionate about agriculture. It is the science of hope for a better future.”

In addition to winning numerous FFA competitions, including five-time Grand Champion Beef Showman awards, Abigail has served as an inspirational role model. She relates, “My participation in the Fair not only grew my confidence in my own abilities but allowed me to instill that confidence in younger members.”

Madilyn Golden will head from Fallbrook to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to major in Animal Science propelled by two Don Diego awards: a $4,500 Tulloch Family Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship and a $1,500 Roxana Foxx FFA Scholarship. This future equine veterinarian confides, “I’ve always loved animals, and I know that working with livestock and horses will fit perfectly into my life.”

In fact, it already does. While excelling academically, participating in varsity gymnastics and being active in a plethora of clubs at Fallbrook High, Madi works at a veterinary hospital and devotes an enormous amount of time and effort to animal-related community service. She reports, “I have spent numerous hours helping raise and train service dogs for veterans with PTSD, and providing therapeutic horse-riding lessons to disabled children and adults.”

One recommender heralds Madi as “an incredible force in our community” who daily demonstrates “enthusiasm, dedication, critical thinking and sheer kindness.”

Kyra Chen of Carlsbad jokes that her science interest and empathy for living creatures began early: “I spent the better part of my infant years wandering around the apartment complex, picking snails off the sidewalk and setting them safely in bushes.” Today, this academic standout at competitive San Dieguito Academy, where she graduates with a 4.39 GPA, will put her Don Diego $5,000 Ranglas Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship to great use at Duke University. “I plan to pursue a biomedical career and conduct research contributing to the development of new medicines.”

Kyra has proactively begun successfully exploring this career, interning at a local pharmaceutical company. She explains, “My task was to evaluable the effect of pharmaceutical treatments on the differentiation of human bronchial epithelial cells, a cell model for cystic fibrosis; culminating in my presentation of findings to the company’s pulmonary drug discovery group.”

Kyra is an award-wining figure skater and published artist as well as a fluent Mandarin speaker, musician and member of her school’s California Native Plant Club. A USFSA Synchronized Skating Gold Medalist, in addition to competing, Kyra coaches young ice skaters and has assiduously saved the earnings to help pay for college. Her skating instructor lauds Kyra as “someone who is making this world a better place.”


Alyssa Arias, Julian, $2,500 Juanita Hayes FFA Scholarship, UC Davis, International Agriculture Development

Monica Ferris, Lakeside, $1,000 Ecke Family FFA Scholarship, $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship, Oklahoma State University, Agriculture Business/Communications

Pauldean Gevarges, San Diego, $2,500 Schenk Family Employee Scholarship, San Diego State University, Finance

Will Warner, Lakeside, $2,500 Allan Royster Vocational Education Scholarship, Grossmont College, Culinary Arts

Julia Bellavance, Santee, $2,500 4-H Scholarship, San Diego State University, Interior Architecture

Charles Diltz, Escondido, $1,500 4-H Scholarship, Palomar College, Engineering/Agriculture

Anna Sohn, Del Mar, $1,000 4-H Scholarship, University of Michigan, Business Administration/Public Policy

Marianne Sadik, San Marcos, $2,500 Karetas Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship, Cal State San Marcos, Electrical Engineering

Amelie Simpson, El Cajon, $1,500 Mannen Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship, Claremont McKenna College, Business Economics and International Studies

Darby Gallagher, Oceanside, $1,000 Ecke Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship, University of Denver, Computer Science

Rachel Rapue, Julian, $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship
Butte Glenn Community College, Animal Science

Carson Rossi, Lakeside $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship, Cal Poly SLO, Bioresource and Agriculture Engineering

Skylar Rossi, Lakeside, $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship, Cal Poly SLO, Bioresource and Agriculture Engineering

Keleigh Williamson, Valley Center, $2,500 Brothers Forever Scholarship, Cal Poly Humboldt, Agriculture Education

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded $1,276,844 in scholarships to 362 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at and