Del Mar, CA …      The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation is excited to announce the creation of an annual $2,500 scholarship earmarked specifically for graduating high school seniors planning to pursue a vocational education curriculum at a community college or accredited trade school; with the goal of obtaining an AA/AS degree or certificate.

Debuting in 2015, this “vocational ed” scholarship brings the number of annual scholarships offered to 13, for a total annual monetary award of $41,500. The 2015 scholarship cycle begins in January 2015. Applications will be due March 16, 2015. Finalist interviews will take place in April, with winning recipients announced in May.


Board Chair Paul Ecke III.

Board Chair Paul Ecke III states, “Our new vocational ed scholarship expands Don Diego’s educational reach, broadens our response to real-life job needs and enhances our value to the San Diego community. With the annual tuition at many local community colleges ranging from $1,100 to $1,400 per year, this $2,500 scholarship can take a student a long way toward achieving his or her career goal. We are proud to support a wide array of exceptional students and recognize that some students choose to pursue ‘skilled trade’ careers from veterinarian techs to medical assistants to electrician and other jobs that are key to a healthy, diverse economy.”

According to Ecke, “Thanks to the generosity of Don Diego donors, the Board of Directors has been able to greatly increase its scholarship program over the past few years.” For several years, Don Diego provided one $5,000 scholarship to a student in each of four categories – 4-H, FFA, Fair Employee and Fair Exhibitor/Participant – for a total of $20,000. In 2013, the program increased by giving the most outstanding of the four recipients an additional $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship (honoring founder Robert Spanjian), bringing the total to $25,000. In 2014, the program substantially expanded to providing one $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 scholarship in each category, bringing the total to $39,000. Now in 2015, with the vocational ed scholarship, the total annual award has more than doubled: from $20,000 to $41,500!

Ecke believes, “As a Board comprised of civic-minded community leaders, we feel it is important to invest in the future of these students and thus, in the future of our region. Our scholars, past and present, are building a better San Diego. We invite businesses and individuals to join us in supporting these students by supporting Don Diego.”

Tax-deductible contributions can be made directly or via vehicles such as Don Diego’s Legacy Brick program and Amigo Club membership, both of which make unique holiday gifts. More information is on the website at dondiegoscholarship.org.

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. The Foundation has awarded more than $640,000 in college scholarships and grants for agricultural education since its inception in1986. Information on programs and donation opportunities is at dondiegoscholarship.org and www.facebook.com/DonDiegoScholarship.