“Exceptional” aptly describes the 22 Scholars from throughout San Diego sharing $76,500 in 2020 college scholarships from Don Diego Scholarship Foundation. These ambitious, idealistic, service-oriented, academic high achievers are already leaders in their schools and communities. Now, propelled by scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, they are poised to soar in their chosen fields, including agriculture, healthcare, technology, business, law, social justice and more.
Scholarships in the categories of FFA, Zable Foundation 4-H, Employee, Exhibitor/Participant, Junior Livestock Auction (JLA) and Vocational Education were offered to students who reside in the San Diego area and participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Nicole (Nikki) Arias of Julian received this year’s one-time $20,000 CGW Family Foundation Scholarship covering four years of higher education. She also was the top FFA recipient. Nicole is headed to UC Davis, where she will major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. An instructor at Julian High, where Nicole graduated first in her class with a 4.43 GPA, relates, “At the beginning of her high school career, Nicole explained to me her plan to serve as ASB officer, get straight A’s, volunteer in the community, graduate as Valedictorian, get accepted into a fabulous college and become a veterinarian.” As she fulfilled these progressive steps, Nicole also served as an FFA officer. As Miss Julian, she dedicated 350 hours of service in San Diego County, helping raise $62,000 for regional charities. She mastered online college courses, worked and volunteered at various organizations, played varsity volleyball and golf, where she was team captain and MVP, and competed successfully at the Fair. Nicole notes, “The Fair allowed me to push myself outside my comfort zone and showcase my strengths.”
Sasha Jouldjian of Coronado captured two top-tier honors: the $5,000 Employee Scholarship and prestigious $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship, which is annually bestowed upon an outstanding applicant. Having graduated from Coronado High with a 4.03 GPA in courses ranging from AP STEM to Art and Literature, along with involvement in activities including chess club, rugby, political clubs and National Honor Society, not to mention a host of accolades, Sasha will use the total $10,000 award to major in International Studies/Political Science at Boston College on her way to practice Family Law and serve as an advocate for women and children. Her teachers and employers praise Sasha as a mature, gifted, ethically responsible leader; a “shining star.” A two-year employee of the Fair, Sasha notes, “I was able to foster a welcoming environment through my sheer excitement and love for my surroundings.”
OTHER TOP RECIPIENTS IN THEIR CATEGORY
Lariece Reyna, Escondido, won the top $5,000 JLA Scholarship and the $2,500 FFA Scholarship. The $7,500 will help propel her to UCSD as she majors in Ecology/Behavior/Evolution. A first-generation college student, Lariece graduated near the top of her Escondido High class with a 3.98 GPA while excelling in AP classes, playing field hockey, actively participating in FFA, working several jobs, volunteering and getting involved in veterinary-related pursuits. Enumerating Lariece’s many positive attributes and impressive achievements, her Cal State San Marcos University Upward Bound coordinator says, “Lariece will not let her circumstances define her. She is a remarkable young lady who stands in the face of obstacles and fights through them.”
Allison Shao, San Diego, will use her $5,000 Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship to begin her journey toward a career in Medicine at Occidental College. An award-winning artist who annually participated in the Fair’s Student Showcase, Allison enthusiastically proclaims, “As a self-declared extrovert, I plan to join Occidental’s admissions team and work as a tour guide for prospective students. I also plan to gain lab experience, become certified as an EMT, and intern at the USC Verdugo Hill Hospital.” A stellar student who graduated with a 4.26 GPA from competitive Canyon Crest Academy while participating in school sports, serving as an intern at Palomar Medical Center, and heading an arts and crafts program at the Carmel Valley Public Library, Allison’s multitasking wizardry will keep her on the path to success.
Olivia van Tol, Ramona, won the $5,000 4-H Scholarship and is headed to Valparaiso University to major in Engineering. Graduating first in her Mountain Valley Academy class with a 4.44 GPA and exemplary SAT scores, Olivia says she has received financial merits from college and is delighted to receive the Don Diego scholarship “to cover additional expenses. My multiple jobs and years of working in 4-H have enabled me to save to pay for my initial move to Indiana to attend college.” A seasoned participant in both the Ramona Junior Fair and San Diego County Fair, Olivia says, “I learned the importance of taking measures to keep both animals and people safe so everyone could learn and have fun at the Fair.”
OTHER RECIPIENTS BY CATEGORY
Kevin Ramales-Alcaide, $2,500, Solana Beach, San Dieguito Academy, UC Riverside, Biology.
Amanda Engert, $1,500, Encinitas, San Dieguito Academy, Mira Costa College, Child/Human Development.
Maranda Hawkins, $1,000, Oceanside, Oceanside High, UC Riverside, Environmental Science.
Alexa Brown, $2,500, Poway, Talega Preparatory, Rollins College, Philosophy/Sociology.
Way Hlaing, $1,500, San Diego, e3Civic High, USC, Environmental Science.
Lauryn Jarvis, $1,000, Oceanside, El Camino High, Cal State Fullerton, Cinema/Television Arts.
Delana Sehnert, $2,500, Fallbrook, Fallbrook High, Paul Mitchell The School Temecula, Cosmetology.
ZABLE FOUNDATION 4-H
Evan Maher, $2,500, Valley Center, Valley Center High, UC Davis, Political Science.
Jessica Van Tol, $1,500, Ramona, Ramona High, Biola University, Financial Business.
Christian Estill, $1,000, Fallbrook, Fallbrook High, Southern Utah University, Agriculture Business.
Emma Thorpe, $1,500, El Cajon, El Capitan High, Texas Tech, Food Science.
Jerry Snow, $1,000, Descanso, Mountain Empire High, UC Davis, Engineering.
Rylie Boyd, $3,000 William and Betty Ann Tulloch Endowed Scholarship, Santa Ysabel, Julian Union High, Laramie County Community College, Agribusiness.
Madison Causey, $2,500, Fallbrook, Cuyamaca Jr. College, Texas A&M, Ornamental Horticulture.
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Habib, $1,500, El Cajon, Escondido High, Modesto Jr. College, Agriculture Education/Business Management.
Rachael Gilmore, $1,000, Descanso, Mountain Empire High, Reedley College, Animal Science.
Delaney Barnes, $1,000, Escondido, Escondido High, Modesto Jr. College, Animal Science.
Don Diego Chair Juanita Hayes states, “The Don Diego Class of 2020 comprises some of the finest future leaders of our region. Each of them persevered through a challenging academic year due to the pandemic. Some have individually surmounted harsh difficulties. Each Scholar shines with promise and hope for the future of our community, our country and the world.”
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.
To date since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded $1,116,500 in scholarships to 279 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at dondiegoscholarship.org and facebook.com/DonDiegoScholarship.