2022 Don Diego Gala


Guests at Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 24 “Reunite & Celebrate” Gala and Sam Hunt Concert at the San Diego County Fair were the very first event-goers to enjoy “The Center” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The venue will soon come alive with performances presented by the famed Belly Up. On this night it was a festive destination welcoming Gala-goers back after a two-year, pandemic-driven hiatus.

Although the venue was indoors, the evening’s stars shown brightly as, one by one, Don Diego’s Class of 2022 Scholars sharing a total of $55,000 in college scholarships took to the stage to receive their awards from donors and tell the enthusiastic audience where they were headed: Duke, Purdue, South Dakota State, Cal Poly and UC Davis, among other universities; and their intended careers, including biomed scientist, conservation officer, interior architect, and even Don Diego’s first chef.

Top scholar Ethan Rockwell, who won three scholarships totaling $11,000, spoke on behalf of his 17 peers as he told 200+ attendees, “We thank the donors so much for this high honor. The money will help immensely and we appreciate your faith in us.”

Abigail Cotton, like Ethan an outstanding Valley Center high graduate, said she will use her two scholarships, totaling $8,000, to major in animal science at Blinn College on her way to becoming a livestock veterinarian.

Among the families attending the gala were Josue and Rosa Arias of Julian with their daughters Alyssa and Nikki. Alyssa is a 2022 scholar; Nikki won a top $20,000 award in 2020. Their bursting-with-pride parents related, “Our girls are a huge blessing to us. We believed our children, first-generation Americans, should do better than ourselves, and here they are, both UC Davis students! Being first-generation college students is thanks to their hard work. We thank Don Diego for believing in them.”

Visit www.dondiegoscholarship.org for more information.

Photos by Robert McKenzie