Directors of the Friends of the Solana Beach Library recently announced the recipients of the 2022 Friends Scholarships for Education Beyond High School. Four anonymous donations added to the funds budgeted for scholarships this year, enabling the Friends to award seven $1,000 scholarships.
Recipients include a diverse group of Solana Beach residents in terms of schools attended, educational and career aspirations, and life experience, as detailed in their application essays. They have impressive records of academic achievement and service to their community of Solana Beach and beyond, as well as outstanding endorsements from their teachers, counselors and others.
Here are the 2022 Friends scholarship recipients in alphabetical order by first name:
Eric Van Valkenberg (Torrey Pines High School) will attend the University of Oklahoma, where he will study physical therapy for a career as a physical therapist or athletic trainer. A baseball player training alone to stay in shape during the pandemic, Eric injured his back and his injury required surgery and a long recovery. One Nine Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy in Solana Beach helped him get back in shape, physically and mentally. And it was during the rehabilitation process that he realized what he wanted to study at university. Eric interned at One Nine last summer so he could learn more about the company and one day help others the way he had been helped. A volunteer from a young age, Eric worked with a group of friends from the Solana Beach Little League to teach newly arrived refugee children how to play baseball. “Even though the language was a barrier,” he says, “we all laughed and played together for hours.” He has also volunteered with the Miracle League (a charity that supports baseball for athletes with physical and mental disabilities) and helped organize birthday parties for children as part of the Crisis House program against domestic violence. at Santee.
Franco-Sims (Canyon Crest Academy) will attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science. He is delighted to attend one of the best schools in the country for this purpose. At the same time, he will complete his flight training to become a licensed commercial airline pilot. In the past year, he has completed a flight course leading to a private pilot license, which is the first step towards a commercial license. Franco has been a highly regarded administrative assistant and IT technician for Nuinto, a video communications consulting firm in Solana Beach, setting up audio, phone and WiFi systems and training employees. An Honored Scout of Solana Beach Troop 782, he was also a member of Teen Volunteers in Action for six years, working with local charities, and volunteering with the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church and the YMCA.
Jessica Connell (Canyon Crest Academy) will attend the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Chemical and Biological Engineering. Jessica’s goal is to become a working physician in a career that involves direct patient care, creating a safe and inclusive space for diverse patient populations. At Canyon Crest, Jessica played varsity field hockey for four years and participated in the school’s Voice Conservatory classes. Shopping for high-risk seniors (through Teens Helping Seniors), working with children (as a volunteer at Get Outside summer camp and the Feed the Kids program), and acting as a St James/St. The Leo Youth Café facilitator helped Jessica choose an educational and career path that will combine STEM skills with a desire to serve others.
Kelly Drummond (2006 San Dieguito Academy graduate) earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound. This month, she entered the master’s program in Advanced Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Studies at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. She will pursue a career in marine conservation policy and communications. Kelly has been a studio art teacher, environmental educator and Montessori teacher. After a decade of working in education in various capacities, she returned to school in various community college programs to study marine science and see where she could fit in to meet the challenges facing the marine environment today. today. Through Scripps’ master’s program, she wants to broaden her skills to work at the intersection of communication and sustainability in ocean industries. Kelly has volunteered with the Surfrider Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs. She has regularly participated in beach cleanups throughout San Diego County and weeded the garden that the Boys and Girls Clubs maintain for their summer cooking classes.
Kristal Cruz (Torrey Pines High School) will attend California State University, San Marcos, where she plans to major in marketing or child and adolescent development. Marketing studies would help him in his plans for opening a business, operating a bakery or a nail salon. Growing up, she watched tutorials on the Internet on how to create nails with home supplies, and she recently opened a nail business from home, earning money doing a job that she love. As she enters college, Kristal also considers another major, which would lead to a career in teaching. Her volunteer experience tutoring for Casa de Amistad during the pandemic has taught her how much she loves helping children learn. In addition to Casa de Amistad, she has volunteered with Dia de Los Muertos and the St. Leo and St. James parishes holiday basket program.
Morgana Day (Santa Fe Christian Schools) will attend Colorado State University, where she was accepted into the honors program. She will be majoring in construction management, with a focus on sustainability in building, and a minor in graphic design. Inspired by Solana Beach’s public art as she grew up and the art classes she took in high school (she took whatever was available), she envisions a career “creating oasis for others to enjoy”. Along with her mother, Morgan volunteered with the National Charity League in places from San Diego to Oceanside, working on beach cleanups; at the Rancho Coastal Humane Society; and in a local soup kitchen. At Santa Fe Christian, she was a varsity swimmer and water polo player and captained both teams.
Wendy Mendoza (2019 Torrey Pines High School graduate) has now completed her freshman year at the University of San Diego (USD), majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience. After completing her undergraduate degree next year, she will apply for the SHU Masters of Nursing entry program. And after graduating and working as a registered nurse in a hospital setting for a while, she plans to return to school to become a nurse practitioner in women’s health. Inspired by her experience as a translator for her Spanish-speaking parents in the doctor’s office and for another family member in clinics and hospitals, she looks forward to playing a part in reducing the language barrier between healthcare providers. providers and Spanish-speaking patients so they can get the care they need. Wendy grew up attending boys and girls clubs and the Casa de Amistad, then volunteering at the Casa and the Solana Beach library. She now volunteers at Palomar Health Hospital in Escondido, where she participates in the Pathmaker Internship program, helping hospital staff care for patients.
Scholars recently met individually at the library with members of the Scholarship Committee to receive their awards and best wishes from Friends as they take the next step in their educational journey. “Learning more about these impressive students, their goals and their desire to serve others,” says Susan McEachern, Chair of Friends of the Library, “makes me really optimistic about the future.