This summer the grower-funded California Table Grape Commission continued its push to promote higher education among students in prime growing regions, awarding a combined $123,500 to six recipients who are now starting college or entering a vocational school.
Four scholarships were awarded to the children of field workers – one $3,500, two-year award for vocational training and three $20,000, four-year scholarships for study at a California university.
In addition, three $20,000, four-year agricultural scholarships for study at a California university were also given.
Funding the scholarships are one way that growers “give back collectively,” commission president Kathleen Nave has said. The panel also offers teacher grants of up to $750 that this year went out to 51 schools in the San Joaquin and Coachella valleys.
The commission has been giving scholarships to the children of farmworkers since 1985, helping more than 130 students attend vocational schools, community colleges and California universities.
In 2012, a new category was created for those interested in careers in the table grape industry. To date the program has helped 27 students attend four-year schools, according to a news release.
Here are this year’s winners, according to the commission’s release:
Four-year field worker awards
Alex Aguillar, a Shafter High School graduate with a 4.3 grade-point average, plans to major in mechanical engineering at San Diego State University with a goal of becoming an engineer. He was president of his high school student body as well as an all-state football player at the small-school level.
Julissa Elizondo, a graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano with a GPA of over 4.0, will attend the University of California, Davis to major in cell biology and become an obstetrician/gynecologist. She was on the honor roll in high school and was a student body executive.
Diego Garcia, who graduated at Harmony Magnet Academy High School in Strathmore, will study neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC, Davis with a goal of becoming a surgeon. He graduated with a 4.17 GPA and his Scholastic Aptitude Test score placed him in the 89th percentile nationally.
2-YEAR FIELD WORKER AWARD
Stephanie Torres, a Porterville High School graduate, will attend the Clovis Culinary Arts Academy to pursue a career as a pastry chef. She maintained a 3.3 GPA in high school.
Juan Espinoza, a Shafter High School graduate with a 4.3 GPA, plans to attend California State University, Bakersfield and major in agricultural engineering with a goal of mechanizing the table grape harvest. He was a four-year member of FFA, played football and was the soccer team’s defensive player of the year.
Nicholas Patton, a graduate of Golden West High School in Visalia with a 4.0 GPA will seek a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology at UC, Davis and then a master’s degree in biological engineering at Cornell University. The FFA member and water polo Most Valuable Player wants to work in developing new food technologies.
Zachary Wilson, a Kingsburg High School graduate with a 3.95 GPA, will attend California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo to major in both agricultural sciences and agricultural business to someday own an agricultural business. He was a four-year honor roll student and student body vice president and won numerous awards in FFA.
Established at growers’ request in 1967, the Table Grape Commission is mainly funded by grower assessments of 11.5 cents for every 19 pounds of grapes.
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