(Above) TSDF scholarship volunteer Virgil Yalong (left) poses with Asian Heritage Awards honoree Major General Antonio Taguba (right) at the USS Midway Museum. Yalong conducted interviews for the awards ceremony.

It’s a well-known fact that nonprofits, often running on lean budgets, rely on volunteers to achieve their goals and increase their programmatic impact.

With hundreds of student scholarship applications to review during April and May, The San Diego Foundation works with more than 70 volunteers to help read, score and discuss applications – and ultimately award scholarships.

During National Volunteer Month, we pay special recognition to these individuals. I was lucky enough to sit down with one of our returning volunteers, Virgil Yalong, to learn about why he volunteers and why he feels The Foundation’s scholarship program is vital to the community.

Interview with Virgil Yalong

Danielle Valenciano: Virgil, tell us a little more about yourself.
Virgil Yalong: I graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in art and graphic design and went straight to work in the nonprofit sector and education. I started out as a resident advisor and web design teacher for Summer Discovery at the University of Michigan. Then came home to San Diego to work for MAAC Project. I currently work as a Teaching Artist with A Reason to Survive.

DV: How long have you been volunteering with The Foundation scholarship program?
VY: This is my second year with the scholarship program. But I definitely feel like a wily vet!

DV: How did you hear about the program?
VY: I was referred to the program by being a member of the Rising Arts Leaders of San Diego. Once The San Diego Foundation put out a call for volunteers, I stepped up.

DV: Why did you decide to volunteer with the program for a second year?
VY: My biggest reason for returning this year was the amount of information I received and how helpful the staff at The Foundation was. As a member of the FilAmFest, I do a lot of outreach to high schools and the information about scholarships was a helpful addition for me to continue encouraging students to pursue their educational goals.

DV: What do you like about volunteering?
VY: First and foremost are the people. But the experience in itself is the most rewarding. When you score the scholarships by yourself, it’s too easy to second guess yourself but when you work with the other volunteers or even the scholarship beneficiary themselves, you see that you are perfectly synced. As long as you draw from your own experience and understanding, you can be confident you are getting the right scholarships to the right students.

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About Danielle Valenciano

Danielle ValencianoAs Director of Community Scholarships, Danielle and her team make higher education dreams a reality for hundreds of San Diego students each year. She serves donors who seek to support the educational aspirations of students and families who apply for scholarships each year. Danielle works closely with applicants to match their needs with funding opportunities, and taps the talents of the many volunteers who support the scholarship program.

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