SAN DIEGO — Multiple San Diegan students are Ivy League-bound after receiving full-ride scholarships thanks to a local nonprofit organization that made the announcement Monday.
First Gen Scholars, which has assisted 160 students total in San Diego and an additional 20 nationwide, supports low-income high school students who would be the first in their family to attend college, according to the group.
“Even with the challenges of the pandemic, we were able to help these students – the first in their families to go to college – navigate the application process and pursue valuable scholarship opportunities,” said Jonathan Burgos, executive director and founder of First Gen Scholars. “Most of our work was done virtually, and we are extremely proud that our Scholars are getting into the most selective colleges in the country, while also helping remove that barrier of being able to pay for college.”
Arsema Aklog, a San Diego High School senior, will be attending Harvard University in the fall.
“Arsema has great reverence for her Ethiopian heritage and community, teaching herself to transcribe the Amharic language to help the elders in the local community understand what was happening during the pandemic,” Burgos said.
Victoria Ruiz, who is valedictorian and a varsity athlete in both swimming and water polo at Montgomery High School, will be studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at Dartmouth College.
“She is the first QuestBridge College Match recipient at her school,” Burgos said. “Victoria is a Mexican immigrant raised by a single parent, and she has recently helped to establish a First Gen Club at Montgomery, which started with more than 30 students.”
Zi Nava Chen, a student at San Diego High School, will be attending Brown University, and was also awarded an opportunity to study abroad this summer in Spain.
“Zi’s father is Chicano and his mother is Chinese, and he speaks fluent Spanish,” Burgos said. “Growing up with food insecurity, it was important for Zi to volunteer weekly at a food distribution center. He also tutors students in Spanish.”
For students in the Class of 2023, applications are now open through June 4.