LCC student earns $20,000 American Legion scholarship

A La Costa Canyon senior has been announced as a recipient of a $20,000 scholarship honoring the children of wounded and fallen soldiers.

Christian Estrella, 17, of Carlsbad, was selected as one of 41 recipients for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship. The distinction is available for children of veterans who died on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, or post-Sept. 11 veterans who have a combined disability rating of 50 percent or higher.

Christian's father, Phil Estrella, a retired U.S. Marine, was severely injured in 2005 when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle in Iraq. He did not wish to elaborate on the extent of his injuries.

Christian said his father taught him how to be a leader in life and added that he feels honored to have been selected for the scholarship.

"It feels pretty special to be recognized, especially on Memorial Day with the American Legion," he said in a recent interview.

Christian, who plays football and lacrosse at LCC, will attend the University of Utah to study business in the fall. He is currently enrolled in the university's business honors program and has been taking classes in addition to his time at LCC.

He said he also plans to play on the university's football team.

Phil said his son, who also volunteers to assist special education students and teach kindergarteners, will be the first in his family to play division one football.

"It's incredible," the father said. "I couldn't be more proud. It's a whirlwind of constantly keeping him busy and focused. Going to play football for Utah is a really big deal."

In total, the American Legion awarded $744,436 to the 41 scholarship recipients nationwide. Recipients will have a year to use their grants and have the option to reapply for the scholarship up to six times, according to the American Legion.

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