This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna
Before the school year ended, 151 students in San Benito County’s Class of 2022 were awarded scholarships totaling $341,750. In all, 344 scholarships were disbursed to students from the county’s three high schools—Anzar, San Andreas Continuation and San Benito High.
For many students, award ceremonies around the county near the end of the school year were the culmination of several weeks of researching and applying for scholarships.
Working with several deadlines and a long list of scholarship opportunities, SBHS student Breanne Rosas said she spent every night for four weeks submitting applications.
“The waiting game has begun,” she said, adding that time management was not a challenge for her because she’s well organized.
From the 40 applications she submitted, Rosas received nine scholarships, totaling $5,000.
She plans to attend Nottingham Trent University in England to major in animal biology.
Rosas said her decision to study abroad came down to financial factors and her field of study.
She said it’s cheaper to attend college overseas to become a veterinarian.
She said most colleges prioritize candidates who have experience working with a veterinarian, but for Rosas the COVID pandemic prevented her from volunteering to work with animals. However, Nottingham relaxed the volunteering requirement and accepted her.
Studying abroad will be a new adventure for Rosas, and for her family as well. 5,289 miles away from home, Rosas said her parents now have a reason to travel to England.
She was one of 115 San Benito High School students who were awarded at least one scholarship.
On May 18, San Benito High School celebrated Senior Awards Night. According to SBHS Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum’s weekly message, 308 scholarships were awarded to his students.
The message noted that this year the school saw a $50,000 increase in scholarship funds over the previous year, for a total of $319,250.
Among the givers were Apple Scholars Program, the Judy Stobbe Scholarship, the PG&E Veterans ERG Scholarship, and the Deputy Association of Santa Clara County.
The San Benito County Chamber Foundation’s Pathways Empowerment Scholarship, in its first year awarded 27 SBHS students $24,000 in scholarships, the newsletter said.
Another SBHS student who benefitted from putting a lot of effort into seeking scholarships was Brian Estrada. He was awarded over $48,000 in grants, including $35,300 from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he plans to study to become a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner.
Estrada said with the help of school resources like College Boot Camp sponsored by the Migrant Program, he could anticipate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSU/UC application deadlines.
“It was a huge help, all in one week in summer before my senior year,” he said.
Estrada and Mary Andrade, SBHS college and career specialist, worked to find scholarships that fit him best.
“I began to gradually go at each scholarship one at a time,” he said. “This process wasn’t necessarily difficult, as I already had various college application essays. However, the part that was tedious was the amount of time they took.”
While Estrada was not in the Advancement Via Individual Determination program, Christine Dukes, AVID Co-Coordinator, who is known to help students with college applications, agreed to revise and work with him on his essay writing.
Estrada won eight scholarships with an additional raffle scholarship from Cal-Soap during the FAFSA workshops.
“$8,000 in scholarships, with the exception of one, which I haven’t heard back from yet,” he said.
In fall, Estrada will fly out to Kentucky.
“It came as a shocker having chosen a school so far away, and to be honest, I had my eyes set on staying in California because this is where my family is,” he said.
Estrada said he had no choice but to leave California as he was not accepted to any in-state nursing programs that he applied for.
He was one of 13 high school and college students honored on June 7 at an award night hosted by the Latino Generation Scholarship Program, created in 2016. According to the program’s website, Latino students with an economic need and acceptance at either a two-year or four-year university or certified vocational training institution are awarded grants.
Angela Crawley, principal at Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista, told BenitoLink that 34 scholarships were handed out to students. About $22,500 in scholarships were given to seniors on awards night on May 18.
Two San Andreas students received scholarships from both the League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] and the Marty Richman Scholarship. They were honored at an award ceremony on May 24 at the Epicenter in Hollister.
Elena de la Puerta, a counselor at San Andreas, told BenitoLink it’s difficult for her students to win scholarships because many have grade requirements, limiting their eligibility.
She said that while most students’ grades improve once they enroll in San Andreas, scholarship programs look at grade point averages over the last four years.
De la Puerta said LULAC contacts the school frequently to encourage students to apply for programs.
On May 24, LULAC and Marty Richman scholarships were awarded to 15 students in the county.
Founding member of San Benito LULAC, Mickie Luna said LULAC #2890 has given scholarships to 177 local students in the past 34 years for a total of $183,000.
San Benito High School graduate Antonio Lara began his scholarship journey unexpectedly.
Joining the freshman class office as its historian led him to find his passion for leadership.
Being the Associated Student Body president during his senior year, Lara’s responsibilities allowed him to make a lot of connections. Applying for scholarships was a task Lara felt he could achieve.
“I wanted to make sure my parents weren’t overwhelmed with the cost of college, so I did everything in my power to apply for as many scholarships that were available,” he said.
Lara said he tried to not look for help. Why? Because he wanted to make sure the writings and applications were 100% just him.
But when he needed guidance, Catalina Lemos, SBHS student activities director, supported Lara during the admissions process.
“I truly believe I wouldn’t have received the ones I did without her encouragement,” Lara said.
Juggling his ASB responsibilities, school work and applying for scholarships became challenging. Each scholarship asked for extensive information.
As he began to write, Lara learned about himself on a deeper level. He acknowledged he overcame many obstacles in his life. Encouraged to keep going, he applied for over 35 scholarships and won 13.
“In total I received $22,400 in scholarship money,” he said. “I’m very grateful to say that I received a $10,000 scholarship from the Marilyn L. Shellito Memorial Scholarship.”
From his visits to different university campuses, one school stood out. Sacramento State University possessed a strong school spirit and active student body.
“Just walking through the campus. It truly reminded me of a little San Benito High School,” he said.
Lara said he didn’t want to tell anyone he had been accepted there.
He discussed the matter with Lemos, who reminded him that scholarships were not given because he was student body president, but because of his hard work.
“So I learned that I shouldn’t be ashamed about what I put my heart and soul into, but I should be proud of what I did to get here,” he said. Lemos, he added, “reminded me that the people who truly care about you will know how hard you work. You don’t have to prove it to anyone else. I’m very excited to go to college and work on getting my teaching credential to someday come back to San Benito High School and teach.”
The BenitoLink Internship Program is a paid, skill-building program that prepares local youth for a professional career. This program is supported by Monterey Peninsula Foundation AT&T Golf Tour, United Way, Taylor Farms and the Emma Bowen Foundation.
Help us bring on more interns! As a local nonprofit news organization, BenitoLink needs community support to continue developing important local programs like our youth and Latinx intern training program. You can keep it going strong by going to our BenitoLink donation page.