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Aurelio J. Barrera Memorial Arts Scholarship

1 winner$1,500
Application Deadline
Apr 14, 2024
Winners Announced
May 14, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior or undergraduate student
Field of Study:

Aurelio Jose Barrera, a longtime L.A. Times photographer who helped the paper win a Pulitzer Prize with a groundbreaking series on Los Angeles’ overlooked Latino communities and in retirement launched a one-man crusade to deliver food to the homeless in those communities, passed away on October of 2020.

Barrera was a young intern at The Times in 1983 when a team of Latino journalists banded together and brainstormed ideas for covering communities of color that they believed the paper wrote about only when there was crime, unrest or immigration raids.

This scholarship aims to honor the life of Aurelio J. Barrera by supporting students who are passionate about photography and social justice.

Any Hispanic high school senior or undergraduate student in California who is pursuing the arts may apply for this scholarship, but applicants who are pursuing journalism, photography, or documentary photography are preferred.

To apply, write a short essay telling us about yourself and how this scholarship would help you pursue your education, project or cause. Additionally, feel free to upload a sample of your work if you would like to share it!

Selection Criteria:
Creativity, Drive, Passion
Published October 28, 2023
Essay Topic

Tell us about yourself and how this scholarship would help you pursue your education, project or cause.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Ignacio Vazquez
Washington Middle College HighW SACRAMENTO, CA
Hello my name is Ignacio Vazquez Diaz de Leon, I am currently 17 years old and I am in my senior year of high school. I am from Sinaloa, Mexico but was born here in the United States. I started to get into photography around a year ago. It began when I bought a 20 dollar Fujifilm Finepix digital camera from Goodwill. I bought it as a way to document my junior year and preserve the memories in physical photos to myself in the future. I started with absolutely zero knowledge about cameras. I thought of them as just a regular point and shoot camera where you can only adjust the brightness and that was about it. That all changed when I got a Sears KS 500 for 5 dollars that was rusted, filled with corrosion, had no lens, and was overall in no working condition. Seeing how the KS 500 looked restored and seeing a specific picture on lomography that it captured, I started to look for an actual film camera that worked, that is when I decided to bike from West Sacramento all the way to East Sacramento to a local camera shop, where I bought an OM1 with a broken light meter. My first roll came out horrible as I didn't know about ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. As time moved on I managed to learn the basic principles of lighting, acquired over 10 SLR cameras, and now I am searching for a proper DSLR. This scholarship will help me pursue my education in photography by giving me the needs to acquire a proper camera set up, that will allow me to advance on a project I have been thinking about. It involves my Hispanic community and giving them a platform to tell their personal stories and documenting their everyday life. I believe the life of my people can be better understood through imagery and not just words. For example, when my grandmother was still alive, even at the age of 67 she was doing the most hard laboring tasks that would amaze me. Seeing this 67 year old woman wake up at 6:00 am making food for 10 people then carrying gallons of water and food to feed the pigs in Sinaloa's hot weather left me with my jaw opened. It is stories and situations like these that I wish to show visually so people can actually witness how hard working and astonishing my people are.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 14, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 14, 2024.

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