Meet the Scholars


UPDATE FALL 2021: As we are slowly turning the corner on the COVID-19 virus, its impact continues is hit low-income families and people of color hardest, dramatically worsening income inequality. Labor economists say two-thirds of U.S. residents from 25 to 64 will need college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized certifications, or other credentials of value by 2025 to meet individual, economic, and social demands. 

During these challenging times, it is imperative to help our Scholars stay in school, earn their degrees, and build a better future for themselves and our communities. 

We are pleased to announce that, since 2010, sixty-two (62) of our Teacher and STEM Scholars have graduated with college degrees, with seven graduating this past year and one earning her teaching credential!

AMANDA HUYNH, UCSD, Mathematics Teaching Credential Program

Amanda graduated from UCSD in the spring of 2021 with a degree in mathematics. She attended UCSD for four years and begins a two-year Math Secondary Credential/Master’s Program at UCSD for the 2021-2022 school year. 


"The support from the San Diego Education Fund has helped me in pursuing my college degree because knowing that there are people around me who genuinely want me to succeed has motivated me to work harder than ever before. I used to be unsure and anxious about becoming a teacher.  However, SDEF helped me realize the importance of teachers and educators, and their role in advocating for change in society. As a result, the support from everyone has made me feel more confident about being a teacher."

ALEXANDRA PALOMERA, SDSU, Teaching Credential Program

Alexandra graduated from SDSU December 2020 with a degree in English after attending there 4 ½ years. She is enrolled in the Single Subject English Teaching Credential Program at SDSU for the 2021-2022 school year.

ANNA GOSSENS, SDSU, Senior, Elementary Education
"The San Diego Education Fund has helped me both financially and emotionally throughout my college experience. The scholarship funds allow me to focus more on my academics, instead of worrying about how I will afford each semester of college. On top of being helped financially, I receive so much support emotionally. I was given the opportunity to make an abundance of connections with scholars around San Diego. I see the San Diego Education Fund as one big community and family. From the one-on-one meetings, to the big scholar meetings, I am able to learn so much. We live in a world of connectivity, and it is crucial for us to connect and further build from these connections. In all, the San Diego Education Fund is filled with so much acceptance, guidance, and love that I will always be thankful for. When they say that they are here for us, they truly are."
SOPHIA LEON, SDSU, Elementary Education
"I am a third-year Elementary Education major with an emphasis in Science as well as an Art minor. I want to teach older elementary school students, move up to high school, and eventually teach multicultural education at a university! The San Diego Education Fund Teacher scholarship has helped me in many ways. The scholarship helped me with those costs and it is one less thing for me to worry about. The SDEF has supported me as a student by giving me opportunities to have fun with other students through zoom meetings. They also notify me of any jobs or internships that could give me experience in the field. In general, it is helpful and encouraging to know there are people wanting me to succeed and supporting me in my decisions. Thank you SDEF!"
SARA TOOMIS, UCSD, Molecular and Cell Biology
"My major is Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor in Bioethics. My passion is for biological research, and more specifically, genetics. My dream is to become an active researcher in the biotech industry, studying genetic disease and gene therapies. The SDEF scholarship has been a huge support throughout my time at UCSD. I've used the scholarship to buy books and extra supplies, and pay for my housing costs. If anything, the scholarship has ultimately provided financial comfort for me as a college student with various expenses." 
TERT SERANIO, UCSD, General Biology
"I am a third-year General Biology major and Psychology Minor aspiring to be a Pediatrics (or Surgical) Physician Assistant. SDEF is an amazing opportunity that I have been grateful for. Receiving the scholarship has provided me with so much financial support from continuing my studies. It has financially helped me through purchasing super expensive textbooks, supplies, and lessened the stress that I would have had if I did not have their support. Not only has SDEF granted me a present of monetary funds, but they have allowed me to network and connect with other scholarship recipients that have similar interests and paths as me. I am very thankful for this opportunity."
ANDREA TRAN, UCSD, Biology, Whalen SDEF Scholar
"As a first-generation college student, the scholarship has opened up many opportunities for me both academically and career-wise. In lessening a financial burden, I am able to not only focus on my studies more but I'm also able to pursue other opportunities outside of school that advance my pursuit of a career in STEM. With the scholarship's support, I have the time and resources that allowed me to accept an undergraduate lab position at the Salk Institute, where I will be helping conduct research on neural circuits in the brain. Additionally, the SDEF program has provided me with a network of current members and alumni that have helped me immensely in my college journey, whether that be through moral support or career and academic guidance."
LARISA DUMMER, UCSD, Engineering Physics, Whalen SDEF Scholar
"I am a second-year student at UCSD studying Engineering Physics, and a front desk employee at The School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD. My involvement with the scholarship fund has been incredible. I feel like the organization has truly invested in my evolution as a student. My meetings with Mary (Mentor) and the seasonal events as a group make me feel supported throughout this busy time of my life. The pandemic did not prevent the foundation from forming a relationship with their scholars. I am very thankful for anyone at SDEF, and the Whalen family, who has taken part in contributing to my experience. Thank you!"