Rancho Santa Fe resident among Don Diego scholars excelling at college

 As they complete their first few months at universities around California and across the country, the one dozen 2016 Don Diego Scholarship Foundation scholarship recipients have already achieved much as freshmen and are on a path to success in their chosen career fields, which include agriculture, education, medicine, art, engineering, business and entrepreneurship.

Don Diego Chair Jon Liss states, “Their accomplishments validate our board’s selection of these stellar students, who received awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, sharing a total of $40,500 in scholarships. They underscore the importance of our generous Foundation donors, whose ongoing support enables these future leaders to build a better San Diego, and a better world.” 

Here is a sampling of the Don Diego Class of 2016’s success stories to date:

Torrey Pines High graduate Sofia Davis of Rancho Santa Fe continues to demonstrate the incredible work ethic that won her a $5,000 scholarship in the Employee category and propelled her to UCSD. She aced every first quarter class, won Provost’s Honors, was selected for a prestigious position at a prominent pre-med club, interns at Palomar Medical Center, works part-time for an optometrist, attends weekly bible study class and plans to work again at the 2017 San Diego County Fair. Sofia says, “I am so grateful for this scholarship and all the opportunities I have gained at UCSD.” 

$2,500 recipient Ray Rapue of Julian is pursuing an Agriculture Education major at Reedley College, where he continues his FFA leadership that began years ago showing lambs at the San Diego County Fair. Ray reports, “This semester I took a class that allowed me to show livestock at the Fresno Fair Collegiate Livestock Show. I exhibited my first goat and placed second in overall showmanship.” 

Encinitan Sophia Mock is using her $1,000 award to scale the heights at UCSB. She earned a 4.0 in challenging classes: Chemistry, Calculus and Anthropology. She’s a rising star in UCSB‘s Adventure Program Leadership Training Course, which includes rock climbing, canoeing and surfing as well as interpersonal skills and group safety. Sophia believes, “4H’s ‘learn by doing’ motto and my experiences in the 4H camping group were great preparation for my college adventures.” 

Courtney Ouellette of Carlsbad is already an involved and successful, Poli Sci and Communications major at Cal State San Marcos. She uses skills gained in her public speaking class when she visits middle schools to encourage 8th-graders to consider attending college. A $1,000 recipient, Courtney recently completed an internship where she worked with politicians such as Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo. 

Samuel (Bubba) Sugarman of Encinitas is putting his $2,500 scholarship to excellent use at Principia College in Elsah, IL, where he earned all A’s and enough college credits to be considered a sophomore. He was elected president of his house, plays on the rugby team, serves as a volunteer firefighter and plans to join the flying club so he can complete his pilot instructor certification. Bubba was just awarded a fellowship to study in Geneva, Switzerland this spring with Leaders Across Borders, where he’ll learn how to mobilize a global organization. He says, “I am so grateful to Don Diego for helping me realize so many of my dreams.”

Don Diego Executive Director Chana Mannen states, “Bubba and all of our exemplary 2016 Scholars are emblematic of the intelligent, ambitious, idealistic and compassionate young adults our Foundation was created to support.”

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984.

Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded approximately $797,000 in scholarships to 177 students and in agriculture education grants. The 2017 scholarship program will be unveiled in early January, with applications available online by January 23, 2017. More information is at www.dondiegoscholarship.org and www.facebook.com/DonDiegoScholarship. 

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