Karla Gonzalez credits her mother for her ability to persevere, despite the initial rejections of her college and scholarship applications.

“My mom reminded me that when one door of opportunity closes, it means that something greater is meant for me,” Gonzalez said during The San Diego Foundation 2021 Virtual Community Scholarships Celebration.

Personal greatness

That “something greater” was Gonzalez becoming the recipient of a Community Scholars Initiative scholarship, and enrolling as a biological sciences major at University of California, Davis. With this opportunity, she hopes to become a scientist specializing in cancer research. The cause is near and dear to her heart, having had several family members diagnosed with cancer.

“I hope to pursue … undergraduate research because I want to be a cancer researcher and hopefully be able to find some sort of treatment that can help a lot of low-income and minority families who are affected by cancer,” Gonzalez shared.

She acknowledges that these experiences and others were setbacks throughout her high school career and the college application process. Nonetheless, Gonzalez graduated with a strong GPA and a plan for college.

College readiness

That plan for college is thanks to the Project Ready program, which Gonzalez joined the summer before her senior year at University City High School. Project Ready, launched by Urban League of San Diego County, is designed to develop a student’s knowledge and attitude toward, and capacity for, higher education success.

“As part of the Project Ready program with the Urban League of San Diego County, I became mentally and emotionally prepared for the challenges that college will present,” she said. “Project Ready has encouraged me to have confidence in my potential.”

In addition to the support she received, Gonzalez was able to support and encourage others.

“I loved reading my classmates’ essays and helping them build their confidence, as well,” she said. “I went through a lot of devastation and frustration myself, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through [that].”

Gonzalez is thankful she was able to return the support she received, and because of Project Ready, she believes going to college will provide her a chance “to emerge out of my cocoon and become the confident butterfly that I am destined to be.” 

Abundant gratitude

Gonzalez is ready for her destiny and what her future may bring.

“Education is a gift that grants knowledge, power, excitement and happiness,” she said. “Because of my education, I have the opportunity to reach success and prosperity.”

She is beyond thankful for the opportunity provided to her by the Urban League of San Diego County and The San Diego Foundation.

“As a first-generation and low-income Latina student, I want to personally thank these two organizations for all their help and support throughout the college process and beyond.” 

In addition to the support she has already received, Gonzalez will continue to receive support from The Foundation’s Community Scholars Initiative, which helps hundreds of young San Diegans prepare for, pay for and persist through college. The initiative is closely tied to The Foundation’s Strategic Plan priority dedicated to fostering equity of opportunity by enhancing opportunities to obtain college degrees for underrepresented San Diegans.

Learn more about the Community Scholars Initiative and the Community Scholarship Program.