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Friends of the Solana Beach Library awards scholarships to six local students

The Directors of the Friends of the Solana Beach Library recently announced the winners of the 2021 Friends Scholarships for education beyond the high school level. Five of this year’s six winners of the $1,000 scholarships were seniors from Torrey Pines High School (TPHS), and the sixth was homeschooled. All of them were supported by outstanding letters of recommendation from their teachers and others. And all showed determination and resourcefulness in dealing with the challenges of applying during COVID-19 restrictions.

Listed here alphabetically by first name are the 2021 Friends of the Solana Beach Library Scholarship recipients:

Bailey Garcia
Bailey Garcia
(Courtesy)

Bailey Garcia (TPHS) was accepted at six branches of California State University and plans to attend CSU Chico. He will major in journalism and public relations, preparing for a career as a journalist. Since elementary school, he has studied piano and martial arts and has regularly participated in Casa de Amistad, the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, and Reality Changers (a program for preparing first-generation college students). He credits his experiences at American Family Martial Arts in Solana Beach with teaching him what teamwork means and what it takes to be a leader. Bailey has volunteered at many community events, and at the Solana Beach Library from 2018 into 2020 he had put in more than 100 hours of service before the library closed because of COVID-19. This year Bailey has worked on developing his writing skills, both in school and independently.

Garrek Chan
Garrek Chan
(Courtesy)

Garrek Chan, who was homeschooled for high school, structured an “a la carte” education to accommodate his competitive soccer schedule and up to 40 hours a week of teaching himself (and others) robotics. He earned credits from several online academies for homeschoolers and also MiraCosta Community College. Garrek will study engineering at Yale University, majoring in artificial intelligence (AI) and biomedical engineering. His professional goals are to build wearable soft robotics medical devices to help patients rehabilitate from critical injuries, and to use AI to anonymize biomedical data to protect user privacy. Garrek has served as the founder, director and curriculum developer of the weekly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program for underserved students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. As the program grew, he recruited and mentored a team of local high school students to work with him and raised $11,000 for program development and materials. Through the nonprofit organization he founded, his Stem2Leaf Robotics program has been expanded to other San Diego–area Boys & Girls Clubs via Zoom during this pandemic year.

Jesus Yacir Romero Ocampo
Jesus Yacir Romero Ocampo
(Courtesy)

Jesus Yacir Romero Ocampo (TPHS) will attend MiraCosta Community College as the first step in his college education. He plans to major in psychology or nursing, studies that will help him understand a person’s behavior in order to help them. As potential careers he is considering emergency medical technician, nurse or midwife, because he would like to take care of people; or civil engineer or construction worker, because he would enjoy building. Yacir has volunteered at the Holiday Basket and Dia de Los Muertos events, community clean-ups and beach clean-ups, as well as community Easter, Halloween and Christmas programs. Yacir’s marketing principles teacher observed that as a distance-learning student this year he was the first to arrive every day, always prepared and focused.

Josselyn Calixto Alavez
Josselyn Calixto Alavez
(Courtesy)

Josselyn Calixto Alavez (TPHS) will study English, beginning at MiraCosta Community College as a first step toward becoming an English teacher. Josselyn looks forward to bringing inclusiveness into her classroom, celebrating multicultural holidays and diverse family types, such as those with single or same-sex parents. She sees her bilingual capabilities as an advantage that will allow her to communicate with Latino parents who are unable to speak English. Josselyn has volunteered in the Dia de Los Muertos and Holiday Baskets programs. And through the Study Buddy program of the San Dieguito Alliance she tutored children of different ages and cultures learning English.

Juancarlos (JC) Cigarrero
Juancarlos (JC) Cigarrero
(Courtesy)

Juancarlos (JC) Cigarrero (TPHS) will attend San Diego State University to study sociology and business. “I am excited to attend college and begin exploring potential careers,” he says. JC has played both club and high school soccer, participated in Reality Changers, the AVID program at Torrey Pines, the TPHS Recycling Club and TPHS Spanish Honors Society. His community service includes work in the St. Leo’s/St. James parish, Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito and La Colonia de Eden Gardens, as well as coaching soccer at Earl Warren Middle School. JC says his drive to make something meaningful of himself and his educational opportunities comes from witnessing the selflessness and tenacity of his parents in tackling their jobs every day.

Maribel Hernandez Conde
Maribel Hernandez Conde
(Courtesy)

Maribel Hernandez Conde (TPHS) plans to study political science at CSU San Marcos as the first step in preparing for a career as an immigration lawyer. She has participated and volunteered in Solana Beach and other local communities through the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Club, the AVID program at Torrey Pines, Casa de Amistad, St. Leo’s/St. James youth group and La Colonia de Eden Gardens. She credits the educational support programs she has had access to in Solana Beach with helping her not just with speaking and writing English, but also with problem-solving techniques and learning not to back down in difficult situations. She wants to pass on what she’s learned, creating positive change and showing people how challenges can become opportunities.

“We are so impressed with these students’ achievements and goals,” says Susan McEachern, president of the Friends of the Solana Beach Library, “and how well they have handled the uncertainties of the past school year and are planning for the next phase of their education.”


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