Big Money Scholarships come up big for several studentsTuesday, May 22, 2012 By By Norma Tinoco
We are always told that school work isn’t paid immediately but that it will be paid in the long run and though many of us don’t believe this, some students have proven this to be true. While most of us seniors are trying to figure out how to pay for college, some of our students have found the best way to do it. This has been through substantial amounts of money given to them due to their hard work and determination; with scholarships. A scholarship is a grant of financial aid awarded to a student, as for the purpose of attending college. In other words, scholarships are given to those who have worked hard during their high school years and are pursuing a higher level of education. Though many students at Alisal were able to acquire scholarships, there was only a handful that accomplished getting scholarships that will pay for most, if not all of their years at a university. These students are Magaly Zagal, Juan Barajas, and Maria Teresa Hernandez. Zagal was an outstanding student who was continuously involved in the community through different programs and will be graduating this year after only three years of high school obtained a $200,000 scholarship. The scholarship, Gates Millennium Scholars, is a program in which 1,000 students from 47 states, and a few from international countries, are selected to receive $200,000. In this case, Zagal was one of the “lucky ones” per se, but what really got her the money was the effort she put into every year of high school. She said that in her case, the process of obtaining the scholarship was very time consuming, with an application that consisted of 30 pages. She wrote ten short essays, similar to the UC applications, such as personal statements and answered about ten questions. She also said that though her grades weren’t the best throughout high school, the scholarship founders were looking for more, such as community involvement. With the help of Ms. Ana Gutierrez and Assemblymember Luis Alejo, she found the tools necessary to show her community-related work. Zagal said that thanks to this scholarship, she is now on a better route to attending UC Berkeley, the school of her choice in which she wishes to pursue her career. Another outstanding student who earned a large scholarship was Juan Barajas. Barajas, on the list of the top one hundred of this year, said that his obtaining the UC Berekely Incentive Award scholarship was the reward of many years of determination and hard work. He did not only work hard in school by keeping some of the highest grades of his class but he also helped his parents by working outside of school. This scholarship consists of financial assistance of $32,000 throughout the four years along with support from a school community. The process to obtaining the Incentive Award was cumbersome; it started on December of 2010 and consisted of rigorous questions regarding academic performance and extracurricular activities. From this, several students were selected for interviews, both group and personal. Barajas felt he stood out from the other applicants, “I personally think that my hard work paid off like helping my parents by working and keeping high academic grades. It’s been something I’ve earned through my hard work, it wasn’t just given to me. I feel it was a lifetime’s worth.” He says that though the scholarship is not full-ride, in other words it won’t pay for everything, he plans on spending the money on tuition, books, and living expenses. Barajas added that he was able to do so well in school and get the money thanks to English teacher Vicki. Barone and recommended students to never forget where they come from for it will help them get where they want to be, as well as keeping communication with your school community. Maria Teresa Hernandez was another student to obtain a scholarship that will ease the challenge of paying for college. The CSUMB Pay it Forward Scholarship is an organization that helps students out through counseling while giving them $5,000 each year throughout the four years of education. In Hernandez’s words, the application was fairly easy compared to others. Besides filling out a common application she had to attend an interview and answer a written prompt. She said that though she did not have the best grades, her grades did help her get there as well as being very involved with the school and staying in contact with the counselors at school. Hernandez said that all $20,000 will go into paying for tuition each year and though is not such an extensive amount of money it will still help her pay the principal costs. She credits research and diligence as keys to her success, “Really be informed about the schools you are applying to and the financial aid they offer, and do not forget to speak to your counselors, I can’t stress enough how much it will help you.” Whether it be a scholarship of $200,000 that will help you pay for everything at school, or financial aid that will pay for your tuition, money is money and if you want to acquire a higher level of education you will need money. Although these three students are not the only ones to get scholarships, they reflect what most students who did had to do; work hard, be involved, and be in contact with the school staff around you. Besides giving you homework or a hard time because of your grades, teachers and counselors are here to get you in college. Visit the counseling office and become aware of the scholarships that are available and you might end up having your college paid for.