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Success Stories

We would love to hear from you! Click here to share your SDEF success story.

I want to share the great news. I was just appointed by SDUSD as the Vice Principal at Hoover High School, my alma mater! I am still a bit shocked and can’t believe how lucky I am. I cannot thank you enough for all of your support to complete my education at SDSU and become a teacher. I am dreaming awake thanks to you. I am and will always be grateful! Without the San Diego Education Fund, my life would have taken a different spin. Looking forward to this BIG Dream! 


- Carlos Ramirez, Vice Principal, Hoover High School   

I graduated from Scripps Ranch High School in 1997 and my high school counselor, Jane Morrill, recommended that I apply for a SDEF scholarship and I was thrilled to become a recipient! I received by BA degree and teaching credential from CSUSM and the SDEF scholarship was extremely helpful as a first generation college student with no financial support from home! I can remember clearly the excitement when going to pick-up my stipend which allowed me the opportunity to really focus on studies. In 2013, I received a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling with a PPS credential. While the prospects of a job after graduation seemed meager, I never gave up and with the help of my mentor (Jane Morill, who is still a counselor at SRHS), I got a job as a counselor at the high school I graduated from! Please extend my gratitude to the Board of Directors and anyone else involved in the scholarship, it certainly made a difference for me and I am excited to be in a position to recommend future scholars!

- Justina Estrada, School Counselor, Scripps Ranch High School.

The SDEF scholarship has helped pay my college tuition and every single dollar counts, especially since I attend the University of San Diego, which is a private catholic college near Mission Bay. As a first generation college student, I strive to not only earn my degree in Mathematics but I want to demonstrate to my younger sister, who is in her 2nd year in high school, that going to college is challenging yet rewarding at the same time. After graduating from high school, I knew in the back of my mind that college in general was going to involve a different life style as opposed to high school. This meant no more school buses and no more free and reduced lunch. Despite not getting these “free perks” anymore, this SDEF scholarship has helped me transition smoothly from life in high school to college life; I feel more responsible in terms of accomplishing my homework, studying and doing well on exams. I also have more flexibility in terms of how I divide up my time throughout the day. All in all, I would definitely recommend this scholarship to any person who is passionate about the college experience.

- Oliver Flores Balanzar

I was admitted to the SDEF scholars program my senior year of high school. I had heard about

it from my ROP teacher at Patrick Henry, as she encouraged future teachers to apply. I am now in my 5th year at San Diego State University and pursuing an Education Specialist Credential for Mild/Moderate disabilities. I am student teaching in San Diego Unified and have accepted a contract for next school year. I have also applied to the Master’s Program at SDSU through the College of Education. My college experience is due in large part to this scholarship and the counseling that I have received in this program. I have had amazing opportunities from these connections and even spoke on KUSI about the Fund!

- Christina Conley     

I am currently a first-year graduate student in the Molecular and Cancer Biology Program at Duke University. Soon after I get my PhD, I plan to find a faculty position within five years, and will start mentoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds (not that I won’t try to do it along the way).


- Abraham Nguyen, UCSD, BS, Neuroscience and Physiology 

Being awarded the SDEF scholarship gave me hope. It gave me the support I needed and made me realize that I can be successful in college.  Before, I was terrified to think college was my next step in life.  Now, this scholarship makes me want to do everything in my power to graduate from college in four years and earn my teaching credential. The scholarship funds will go to books, tests, and tuition.  These funds also lift a weight off of my shoulders, knowing that I have the support of a different family, my academic family. 

- Starr DeAlba 

The SDEF scholarship means to me that people are willing to invest in my future. This motivates me to keep following the right track to success.  It puts me closer to achieving my goals because I know that SDEF is willing to invest in my education so that I can help the youth of America become well educated.

- Alberto Vega