For most of the 2022 San Diego Foundation scholarship program recipients, the impacts of these funds are life changing.

“Affording college would not have been possible without your generous donation,” said Mika Reynoso, recipient of the Cindy Bishop Scholarship.

These poignant words from a first-generation college student echo the stories of strength and success from other students. Reynoso is heading into fall semester at University of California, Davis with a smile – knowing that she is better equipped to afford the classes and the schedule she’s taking on this year.

“I’m super grateful for (my donor’s) support in my higher education,” she said.

Record-breaking Year

Her story isn’t an anomaly. It was another record-breaking scholarship year – San Diego Foundation awarded $3.5 million in scholarship funds in 2022.

Fostering equity of opportunity for students through the Community Scholarships Program is a priority for the San Diego Foundation Strategic Plan.  This year, an incredible 983 students received scholarships, and nearly 70% of them were awarded to first-generation college students.

For most of them, these funds make a world of difference.

“It has been difficult and troubling to sometimes feel like an outsider and an imposter,” said Yuvely Beltran, who was awarded the Weil Family Foundation’s Students Without Limits Scholarship. “But with your help and your aid – I am confident in my abilities to continue excelling throughout college.”

First-generation Students

College is not easily attainable for those who simply don’t have the budget for college’s big bills. Just ask Roberto Mejia, who never thought college would be an option for him.

“Being the first one in my family, coming from a low-income background, college is something that hasn’t been very attainable in my life,” Mejia said. He was awarded the San Diego Indian American Society Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship for College-Bound Students.

Victoria Ruiz comes from a similar background and has big goals to make every second of her collegiate career worth it.

“As a young Latina looking to pursue a degree in a field that is often under-represented by Hispanics and women, this is truly life changing,” Ruiz said.

Motivated to Succeed

Each student awarded a scholarship has their own important story to tell, and a reason why higher education matters in their lives. Both the support and the generous spirit of donors fuel their motivation to succeed.

“I moved here before my freshman year from India and experienced a lot of culture shock, but one thing was really clear to me,” Sanjit Sarda, a Smith Scholarship recipient, said. “Our (San Diego) culture is defined by our sense of giving and our sense of community. It really inspired me, and I tried my best to embody that in high school. Receiving this scholarship shows me that I’ve successfully achieved that goal.”

By listening to each student’s story, it’s clear their resilience shines through each message of gratitude. Kyra Compton, who received the Amanda Post Memorial Scholarship, plans to channel her scholarship’s namesake and keep their memory close throughout her studies, and her daily life.

“My goal is to live life as Amanda would – with adventure, steadfast morals, the ability to forgive and lots of smiles,” Compton said.

The impacts each scholarship has on hundreds of students lasts far beyond their college years. Each student emphasized how much they’ll remember those that supported them on their path to success.

Learn more about how you can make a difference in a local student’s life by starting a scholarship fund.