For DonorsFor Applicants

Pete and Consuelo Hernandez Memorial Scholarship

1st winner$2,000
2nd winner$1,500
3rd winner$1,000
Application Deadline
Jan 28, 2024
Winners Announced
Feb 28, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Underrepresented minority
Education Level:
High school junior or senior

This scholarship aims to honor the life of Pete and Consuelo Hernandez by supporting underrepresented students pursuing higher education in California.

Among college graduates, those who were first-generation have lower median income and wealth on average when compared to non-first-generation graduates.

First-generation college students face an onslaught of challenges when pursuing their degrees and even after graduation.

First-generation college students are less likely to complete their degrees, as just 26% of people whose parents don’t have at least a bachelor’s degree achieve their own degree as compared to 70% of people whose parents attended college.

Any underrepresented minority high school junior or senior in California who will be the first in their family to go to college (first-generation) may apply for this scholarship. First place winner will receive $2,000, second place winner will receive $1,500, and the third place winner will receive $1,000. 

To apply, tell us your planned major, adversity that you have overcome and how doing so has helped you grow as an individual.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published August 3, 2023
Essay Topic

Please share your major, what adversities you've overcome and how these experiences helped you grow as an individual. 

400–600 words

Winning Applications

James Castellon
Pomona HighPomona, CA
Im destined for Civil Engineering. An engineering discipline that conducts itself with design, construction, and maintenance of the environment. The highest peak if interest was caught from this major. It not only caught the interest but was suitable in the subjects that I most excel in. Overworking myself, bad influence, and the lack of support caused my downhill of junior year in highschool. Filling my schedule with sports to improve and improve at what I love most in and what keeps my mental health stable was the only thing in mind. Along with a packed schedule came with little time for homework, especially my AP classes. 9pm became a regular time to arrive home. The weight of exhaustion became a real problem. I only had about two hours to complete any homework. Two hours wasn't enough when I am a perfectionist with my work. Hygiene disrupted this routine if doing homework as it is mandatory to me and for everyone. The amount of sleepless nights I would have was harsh and for what, to have my homework done half-ways by the time on Thursday? Pack-stile of work is on my shoulders as I tried my hardest to complete it until Thursday came. On Thursdays I had to work a graveyard shift for my dad as he had undergone surgery which meant me assisting him in whatever I can on that specific day. By the time I came into school on Fridays I would have gotten 3 hours of sleep or even a lot less. It was shown that my time management was the worst. Along with that stress came the bad influence from friends. My friend group became my way of coping by having fun and not giving much thought of my actions. I was always pressured to do what I knew was bad for me. I had no support when it came to school and had to find my ways of succeeding as I was viewed as the last hope in the family to succeed. The weight that carried for this status was unbearable. I took as many AP classes as possible even if I have a disability(ADHD) in my way, and it was all for the expectations of my family. I was depressed. I had no idea what I was doing. I was playing a role of what people wanted me to play and not for what my passion is. Took me an entire year to find myself. Although my academics declined by a great number I soon realized what I had done wrong. I looked back on myself and my mistakes to alter them for the better. I stopped hanging out with those friends and stopped listening to any bad influence and put myself in a 6 week summer program called upward bound and was in a strict rule system where I was pressured into doing my work on time with good work showing from it. I loved this program as I got to learn and overcome what was so difficult for me to overcome. Instead of having many missing assignments I started turning them in on time and putting my best effort as well as studying for what will benefit me not during that time but for the rest of my life. In the end I got back into track of the straight A student I was and got an award in physics of the hard work and dedication I put. And i used that very example from that program and used it onto my school year and the rest that follow even if its small.
Dulce Hernandez
Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services AcademyLos Angeles, CA
I am a low-income, first-generation Latina living in the heart of South Central, Los Angeles, studying computational neuroscience. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles allowed me to have firsthand access to various educational barriers that I would have to face alone. My parents had no idea what AP courses were or even what extracurriculars I should have done in high school to get into a good college. I was especially exposed to how under-resourced my community was when I was accepted to SHINE, an engineering program through USC on a merit and need-based scholarship. Already, I felt out of place the first day. I was the only person from my school to be accepted into the program, while others already knew each other because they were from the same school. The uncertainty about my place in the program piled on: they were all from fancy, well-resourced schools with fancy names and even fancier campuses I couldn’t even fathom. I could not help comparing myself with them, which made my imposter syndrome flare up like never before. Before I came onto that campus and met those privileged high school students, I was this confident woman. After the very first day, I felt like an undeserving failure. To make my experience even harder, the universe decided to pair me with a beyond-exceptional laboratory partner who had taken AP Biology and AP Calculus BC, courses not offered in my high school. My imposter syndrome was not only present, it was raging. I felt unworthy and useless. Yet, I picked myself up and reminded myself why I took college courses on top of my full high school schedule. I reminded myself why I studied neuroscience for hours in my room rather than going to the high school dance. I knew I wanted this life for myself, to be this determined and unforgettable woman, to motivate others who were just like me, and to be this person people could go to for help. Immediately, I went to work, studying whatever material that was presented before me by my mentors. I would study independently during my lunch as cyclic voltammetry and I became good friends. I learned how to navigate through the biology and math of biomedical engineering alone. I do not let my socioeconomic circumstances give me a reason to become a high school dropout. I study every single day and apply myself to important and worthwhile endeavors, for example, tutoring a couple of peers or helping my mother with her English. I apply myself to become this confident and exceptional first-generation, low-income LGBTQ+ Latina every day. Being fearless and just taking the leap is what I aim to showcase in my community as I earn a Bachelor’s and then my Ph.D. I take a risky leap when I fight back and start up my own clubs in my school to combat the lack thereof. I fight back and take a risky leap when I tell the adults around me that I want a career. We, the people of South Central are put down and demeaned by those who don’t believe in us, showcased when they under-fund our schools and shoot at our people. My goal is to have those who grew up in the same dangerous neighborhood as me and who went to the same under-resourced schools to have a chance at going to college and having a career. I will prove the critics wrong by establishing myself as an educated Latina from South Central.
Angela Hernandez
Los Osos High SchoolRCH CUCAMONGA, CA
“Dad, wake up. I need to leave for school.” I said as my dad lay on the floor of our bathroom. I shook my sleeping father to wake up. I cried, scared that he was dead. When he finally woke up I was grateful that he was alive. He was anything but happy. My dad resented his little girl for waking him up from his drunken stupor. The smell of alcohol seeped from his pores along with his anger. Anger that I wanted to leave. Anger that I was waking him up. Anger that I wasn’t her. My name is Angela Hernandez. I was named after my father’s best friend, who he always said was the love of his life. My whole life I have been confronted with the idea that I had to fill the void left by her, especially after his many failed attempts at relationships, including his relationship with my mother. I felt the need to make him feel like he had someone who he could depend on. But that ultimately is a lot of pressure to put on someone, particularly for a child. Looking down at my father, I realized I would have to become a more independent and self-sufficient young woman. For a while he urged me to live up to his expectations and make him happy. Until eventually it became too overwhelming. Having the constant obligation make him proud rather than chasing my own dreams. Essentially I had to learn for myself that it was not healthy to live searching for constant acceptance. As a result of this I came to the realization that I had to fight for that little girl who was crying because of her father’s neglect. I had to finally acknowledge the trials and tribulations he put her, me, through. Rather than prove to him my accomplishments, I strove to prove to myself that I can do anything. As a little girl I understood that school would help me accomplish anything. It was my hope for the future and my escape from the present. School would give me the chance to use my mind to focus on my favorite subjects, English and Math, instead of dwelling on the hardships that I have faced. My academic success has always been incredibly important to me. It allowed me to prove to myself, and others, that the hardships I faced left no room for excuses. Finding success in school is what kept me motivated to move forward into the future I dreamed of having one day. Through my struggles and self reflection, I learned to lean on the rest of my family for support and encouragement. They encouraged me to have faith that although my life may seem desolate, it would get better if I continued to focus on my path. Having that support was key to not veering off the road I had paved for myself. It is because of my early life experiences that I believe everyone needs a substantial support system and the help that they need to overcome their trials. This realization is why I intend to emphasize my studies in psychology. That way I can acquire the skills necessary to become a successful psychologist providing the tools and strategies to help others overcome the obstacles in their lives. Especially, if like I did, they feel as if they have no one they can turn to. By following this path, not only will I help myself overcome past traumas, but I will be able to pay it forward. Which is, I believe, our responsibility on earth.
Kimia Nejad
Santa Barbara City CollegeMountain View, CA
As a future political science major, I knew being an attorney would always be my future career path. “Kimia, you will need to pay for college all on your own”. The dinner table went silent; Faces went blank; The pungent yet delicious smell of ghormeh sabzi became louder than the room itself. My dreams of being a first-generation college student in my family felt crushed at this moment. Feelings of hopelessness drowned my once-present self-esteem. I always believed that education opened up a new path leading toward upward mobility. For this reason, attending a university has always been part of my plans. I knew I could make this dream a reality, I just had to figure out how to overcome this new obstacle. As immigrants from Iran, my parents had unique paths of education. While my mother never attended college, my father completed some community college classes after immigrating to the US. My parents moved to America with hopes that my sisters and I would receive the best education opportunities which would further promise successful futures. Though the news that my parents would not pay for my college left me discouraged. However, I knew that it would not stop me from achieving my dream, a dream shared with my parents- attending a university. I began researching everything and anything that might help me improve my situation, finally stumbling upon a dual enrollment program with my local community college. This program would allow me to get a head start on my college classes whilst simultaneously saving money. In addition to these evident benefits, I would also get the chance to challenge myself in college classes, further preparing me for my future in higher education. Being completely asynchronous, the classes would also help me strengthen my self-disciple, time management skills, and overall balance in life. While the program may be difficult and time-consuming, it benefits my future as a student. The decision I had to make was apparent - I would participate in the program. To pave the way for success I understand that hard work and extreme discipline are necessary. It became prominent how much more time and effort I would have to invest in my future when I noticed how many of my classmates have it easier than I did. As an extremely goal-oriented person, I would never let obstacles like a lack of financial support divert my hopes and dreams. Going above and beyond in this situation to set myself up for success characterizes any future achievements on which I will embark. When covid initially hit, my father was part of those whose career was heavily impacted. As the owner of a small business, and being the only parent who worked, we were put in a vulnerable and scary position when the economy began to decline as a response to Covid-19. My father as the owner of his business had to let go of his employees since he couldn’t afford to pay them. I began to come in most days before school, after school any free time I had to help him with paperwork and other tasks. I began sacrificing the time I spent with friends, and the sports I played to be there for my family and provide support. I was balancing working for my dad alongside my lifeguarding and babysitting jobs, as well as my community college courses in addition to my high school classes. I acquired the knowledge of how much my future decisions would impact my future and success.
Isabella Ruffier
Irvine Valley CollegeIrvine, CA
I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 5 years old and was warned of potential learning disabilities. One neurologist even claimed I wouldn't be able to advance past second grade. Funny enough, It wasn't until second grade that I noticed that I had a tough time in class more so than others. The material just wasn't processing. I noticed I was falling behind and grew envious and angry when other kids did better than me. So I decided to try harder. I started reading in my free time and asked for extra help. Unintentionally, I started building my vocabulary and was slowly able to participate in class. It's funny how the jealousy of a child was able to turn into the ambition of a future college graduate. It was fifth grade when I realized it was my seizures that made it so hard to learn. That sent me spiraling and made me think that I was built to fail. I would've given up if it weren't for my teacher. His name was Mr. Crosby and god I hated him at the time. He would push my limits, force me into leadership roles in the classroom, He even made work specialized for me to study at home. He was also the only teacher I've ever had visit me in the hospital for my yearly stays. He showed me that I can be so much more than what others say I am. He believed in me when no one else did and I started to try. It proved to be beneficial because the next year I was placed in my elementary school's honors class. My teacher for that class was terrible, to say the least, and sucked at accommodating for students like me. But she did manage to teach me one thing. There was a particular day in class, where I completely just broke down. Home life was rough and school was overwhelming. So here I was, 11 years old balling my eyes out to this women while trying to explain my situation and all she does is stare me right in the eye. She practically told me that the only way out of the life I'm stuck in is through my education. Looking back at it now, it was probably her way of telling me to suck it up and get back into class but it stuck with me. Here I am now, a senior in high school taking AP classes and applying to colleges to further my education. I was able to form clubs and take leadership roles in my school and better my community. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg that is my life. You see, I was born and raised in San Diego to a single mother along with 4 other siblings. I’ve been through the foster system, been abused mentally and physically, and have been homeless three times before I was even 16 years old. I’ve lived in poverty my entire life with everyone around me stuck in the cycle. That mixed with my epilepsy and learning impediments, it was clear to see that everyone expected me to fail and get stuck here like they did. Thankfully, I have learned how to differentiate the good and the bad and have surrounded myself with a community of friends and mentors who wish to see me thrive. I’ve learned how to effectively advocate for myself and eventually others. I still have years of coping and reflecting to recover from the hardships I've faced, but I'm proud that my past won't get in the way of my future.
Ryan Ekwoge
San Francisco State UniversityOakland, CA


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 28, 2024. Winners will be announced on Feb 28, 2024.

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