The Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation recognized its 2019 Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarships recipients on Thursday, July 30, during a meeting of the Board of Directors at Cabrillo’s Snapdragon Place Apartments in Ventura.
Cabrillo Chief Executive Officer, Margarita H. De Escontrias welcomed the recipients, introduced the board members and thanked the members of the scholarship review panel for their commitment in determining the scholarship recipients.
This year, Cabrillo received 24 applications and awarded $12,500 to 14 recipients. Edison International provided a $10,000 grant for STEM recipients, and another $2,500 funded by individual donations was distributed among recipients of all majors.
The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship Program, created in 2011, honors the legacy of Rodney Fernandez, Cabrillo’s founder and Executive Director for 30 years (1981–2011). The Scholarship continues Fernandez’s legacy of community building by cultivating the leadership of residents to attain their goals and empower themselves to take action to improve the quality of life in their communities.
“The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship applicants and recipients exemplify Rodney’s dedication and commitment to making Ventura County a better place to live and work,” said Jack Hinojosa, Chief Executive Officer of Child Development Resources of Ventura County and a member of the review panel.
“I was very impressed with the high-quality applications I reviewed and each of the recipients’ commitment, dedication and passion for learning and higher education. More importantly, many of the recipients plan to return to the county to help our community after they graduate. Congratulations to all the RFLF recipients,” he said.
Other members of the scholarship review panel were:
• Jaime Galvan, Programs and Events Manager at Ventura College Foundation
• Brian Gilpatrick, Managing Director, Ventura Region, Union Bank
• Christina Perez, Admissions Counselor, California Lutheran University.
• Jessica Cook, Assistant Vice President and Branch Operations Manager at Pacific Western Bank, Camarillo office, and a Cabrillo board member
• Denise Bickerstaff, Director of Business Development and Administration at Cabrillo
Luz Soto, Director of Property Management and Resident Services, introduced each of the recipients in attendance and welcomed their family members. About 40 people attended the event catered by El Pescador in Fillmore.
Two of the seven recipients in attendance spoke about themselves and the impact the scholarship will have on their ability to attend school and reach their educational goals.
Mireya Avila Mejia, a Fillmore High School graduate, is attending California State University, Channel Islands, in the Masters in Nursing program. She said she was inspired by nurses who tended to her mother, who was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and underwent surgery and radiation.
“I want to impact someone’s life in a positive manner and help someone’s mother in the way my mother was being helped. … As I embark on my nursing journey, I plan to get a job in the Ventura County area as a Nurse Practitioner. I will most likely be working in the Ventura County Hospital in the emergency unit, but it doesn’t matter where I am as long as I am saving lives,” Mejia said.
Yuliana Ceja, a Pacifica High School graduate, is attending Ventura College studying applied mathematics. She said she discovered her passion for mathematics while working as a tutor at Ventura College and Tutor Doctor, preparing high school students for SAT exams.
“My ultimate educational goal is to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics at CSUCI. My dream job is to become a math professor at a community college. As a college professor, I aspire to help students develop a love and understanding of mathematics,” she said.
Panelist and Cabrillo board member Cook said she was impressed by the women who shared their experiences and gratitude. “I can relate to both women when they mentioned they could not speak English when they started school. Being teased and bullied can shape who you are as a person. I am so proud these award recipients were shaped in a positive way,” Cook said. “They used their experience to help others in a similar situation and told themselves they were going to become successful. I am fortunate to be a part of this process. Everyone who submitted an essay did an amazing job.”
In addition to Mejia and Ceja, scholarship recipients are:
• Angellica Ayala-Ibarra, a Ventura High School graduate attending California Lutheran University as an environmental science and accounting major
• Denise Castro, a Foothill Technology High School graduate attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a global studies and education major
• Dominique Delgadillo, a Ventura High School graduate attending Ventura College as a Zoology major
• Trenton Grimes, an El Modena High School graduate attending Oxnard College and transferring to the University of California, San Diego, as a mechanical and environmental engineering major
• Edith Ibarra, a Santa Paula High School graduate attending Ventura College as a biology major
• Julio Martinez Fernandez, a Pacifica High School graduate attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, as an Earth sciences major with an emphasis in geophysics
• Monique Melendez, a Rio Mesa High School and Notre Dame de Namur University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in biochemistry. She attends Grand Canyon University working on her Master of Education degree in special education.
• Cassandra Mendez, a Santa Paula High School graduate attending California State University, Channel Islands’ nursing program.
• Edwin Ponce, a graduate of Applied Technology Center High School attending California State University, East Bay, as a computer science major
• Devin Ruiz, a Ventura High School graduate attending California State University, Channel Islands, as a mathematics and business major
• Naomi Summers, an Oxnard High School graduate, attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, as an environmental studies major
• Kevin Tapia, an Oxnard High School graduate attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, as an actuarial science major
CAPTION: Back row (l-r): Edwin Ponce, Angellica Ayala-Ibarra , Mireya Avila Mejia; Front Row (l-r) Kevin Tapia, Naomi Summers, Cassandra Mendez, Yulianna Ceja; Not pictured: S. Trenton Grimes, Edith Ibarra, Monique Melendez, Devin Ruiz, Dominique Delgadillo, Julio Martinez- Fernandez, and Denise Castro