Four Santa Fe High School seniors who have juggled personal challenges with academic excellence are celebrating being selected as Dell Scholars for 2017, earning a collective $80,000 in scholarships to complete their post-secondary education.
Jesus Muneton, who will attend UCLA to pursue a career in chemical engineering; Isaac Zarate, who is heading to UC Irvine to study political science; Nicolas Mabey, who will study business at UCLA; and Angie Torres, who will explore math at UC San Diego, will each receive $20,000.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it, but when I saw the notification it was like a dream come true,” said Zarate, who has completed 14 honors and Advanced Placement courses and has accumulated more than 200 volunteer hours. “It was a wake-up call for me that said I can do anything I put my mind to.”
As part of the Dell Scholars Program, an initiative of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, each student will also receive a laptop, textbook credit and ongoing support to address any challenges that may prevent scholars from completing college. The program recognized 400 scholars this year.
While the program emphasizes a student’s determination to succeed beyond just academic records and test scores, the four Santa Fe High students over the years have demonstrated their deep commitment to their education and the ambition they have to thrive beyond high school.
“This group embodies hard work and determination,” said teacher Alejandra Gonzalez, who has mentored the group of students, who are part of the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. “They have a positive attitude and I know they’re going to be a powerful force in the future.”
Muneton, a first-generation college student who is poised to be the school’s class of 2017 salutatorian, founded the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Club and is a French Honors Society board member.
“This scholarship is a great blessing for me and my family,” he said.
Mabey is a member of the National Honors Society and is on the varsity volleyball team.
“It’s amazing to think that they considered me as someone who has accomplished something great and that I’ve shined through enough to deserve this scholarship,” Mabey said.
Torres is president of the Expanded Horizons Club, which provides assistance and academic support to students, and is secretary of the Spanish Honors Society.
Over her high school career, she has earned more than 150 community service hours and works with Think Together, a nonprofit organization that provides extended learning programs to underprivileged and low-income children.
“We are so proud of our students for what they have accomplished, and we are excited to see where their determination and dreams take them,” Principal Craig Campbell said. “The teachers and staff at Santa Fe are committed to providing guidance and support for our students, and their efforts are certainly recognized in the students’ success.”