Published Mar. 8, 2023
By ELLA GAILY
With the beginning of the third quarter, the motivation and time to complete scholarship applications is often lost in a typical senior’s frenzy of schoolwork, college acceptances and pre-graduation events. However, the CHS College and Career Center and AVID classes continue to inform seniors of the benefits found just by taking a closer look.
“A lot of local organizations are using this bigger platform to make it easier on the students,” says center coordinator Abigail Zaldivar of the Community Foundation’s database that took off last year. “You make one application and it goes to hundreds of local organizations.”
Patricia Hunt, who recently left CHS after a decade in Zaldivar’s current role, cites the Rotary, Kiwanis Club, Community Foundation, Carmel Valley Women’s Foundation and Yellow Brick Road as offering the most scholarships and money historically. She notes a $20,000 Rotary scholarship for a gifted music student as particularly generous and unique.
“All you have to do is write one essay and tweak it around a little bit to fit what each scholarship requires,” advises Zaldivar to students daunted by the amount of local opportunities.
Another foundation offering countless scholarship opportunities has made its home on campus since 1951 and currently has a fund of almost $1 million. With the Feb. 28 deadline, the process of reading applications for the 45-70 applicants and awarding up to 30 for the Carmel High School Foundation is just beginning. Each year, the foundation gives out 10-20 $1,000-$2,000 merit-based “Star” scholarships and about 10 larger need-based “Vision” scholarships. Soon after the application deadline, the committee consisting of two seniors, two parents and eight faculty members representing each academic department interview the top 25 applicants for the Star scholarships.
“Each member ranks their top 15 choices and their first choice gets 15 points, the second gets 14 and so on,” explains CHS English teacher Dale DePalatis, who is also the 15-year Carmel High School Foundation chair, of the two meetings dedicated to interviewing applicants. “In the end when you add it all up, the winners aren’t students just good at one thing, they’re well-rounded. That’s why we call them stars.”
Student applicants are also thrown into the pool of 50 other local scholarships that donate to the Carmel High School Foundation, including five Community Foundation scholarships, the Padre Parents scholarship, the Mark Stefan Scholarship for a gifted science or math student, a scholarship for a cheerleader and more.
“The awards night in May is a spectacular event where these organizations get to present their scholarships to students,” says committee member and CHS senior AVID teacher Bridget Randazzo, where the Star and Vision scholarship winners will also be announced.
Along with the College and Career Center, Randazzo and fellow senior AVID teacher Aubrey Powers advocate for the importance of applying for scholarships by bringing in teachers to share their success stories. CHS math teacher Juan Gomez, for example, grew up in a family of farm workers in Eastern Merced County with parents that didn’t attend college. When Gomez had to spend one period a day for a semester in his College and Career Center, he decided to fill out every local scholarship application.
“On awards night, my academically-gifted neighbor thought she would get all these scholarships but only applied to the ones she thought she qualified for,” says Gomez, who encourages Randazzo’s and Powers’ students to not be complacent.
To his surprise, Gomez won 13 scholarships, most notably becoming a recipient of the Latin Women’s scholarship because no Hispanic female had applied.
“What I tell the AVID classes is, ‘Don’t be the one to tell yourself no,’” says Gomez of the number and type of scholarships one should apply for. “There’s already enough people that do that for you.”
For more information and to access the Community Foundation scholarship database, students can visit the local scholarships document in the CHS Bulletin.