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SACRAMENTO, July 17, 2019 – The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Foundation has awarded $31,500 in college scholarships to eight students. The scholarships are awarded annually to students whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower.

“This year’s scholarship recipients are extraordinary students who show that hard work and perseverance can lead to remarkable achievements,” said Steve Heringer, chair of the CAWG Foundation board of directors. “Their dedication to learning, leading, volunteering and being involved is inspiring. The CAWG Foundation is honored to be a part of helping them achieve their educational goals. Without a doubt, they will all continue to make a positive impact in their future academic and community endeavors.”  

Each year the CAWG Foundation board selects at least seven recipients from high schools throughout the state. Scholarship selection is based on scholastic ability, financial need, community involvement, leadership and a 500-word essay. Since the program’s inception in 1998, the foundation has awarded $464,500 in scholarships. Funds are raised through the generous donations of members of the California Association of Winegrape Growers and the California wine community.

The four-year scholarships are $8,000 each for students attending a University of California or California State University campus. Additional $2,000 scholarships were awarded this year to two high-caliber applicants. The two-year college scholarships are $2,000 each for students attending a California community college. 

The Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship was created by the family of Bob Miller, a California wine industry leader who helped establish the Central Coast as a leading winegrape growing region. The scholarship invests in the future of Central Coast students who plan to study viticulture or enology at either Allan Hancock College or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and pursue a career in the region’s winegrape industry.

Four-Year University Scholarship Recipients / $8,000 each

Maricarmen Frias Prieto, Salinas, Everett Alvarez High School 

Fernando Hernandez, Lamont, Mira Monte High School

Trevor Kammerer, Fresno, Clovis North High School

Four-Year University Scholarship Recipient / $2,000 each

Paola Martinez, Soledad, Soledad High School

Gissell Mendez, Napa, Vintage High School 

Two-Year Community College Scholarship Recipient / $2,000

Yareli Bolanos Suarez, Bakersfield, East Bakersfield High School

Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship Recipient / $1,000

Martin Koch, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo High School

Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship Recipient / $500

Arianna Cardenas-Romero, Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley High School 

ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS

Maricarmen Frias Prieto, Salinas, Everett Alvarez High School 

Maricarmen’s family includes generations of farmworkers, and she has seen the struggles of this life and in her community. There have been many obstacles, but she has used these as motivating forces as she went through school. Maricarmen decided to take charge of her education and work hard in the classroom. She has thrived taking AP classes and community college classes, maintaining a 4.25 GPA, and participating in nearly a dozen clubs and extracurricular activities. Beyond school, she serves in her community and holds a part-time job. Maricarmen plans to attend Occidental College, major in computer science and pursue a career as a computer programmer. Her teacher wrote that “everything she puts her hand to improves the world around her” and she “exemplifies commitment, dedication and a pursuit of excellence.”

Fernando Hernandez, Lamont, Mira Monte High School

The son of immigrants from Mexico, Fernando is driven to achieve his academic goals so that he can enrich his family’s economic status and better serve his community in the future. Growing up, there were hardships in his family; as a teenager and the oldest male in the household, he had to work as a farm laborer. But this did not deter him from reaching his goals. Fernando earned a 4.4 GPA and is ranked second in his class. He is involved in academic decathlon and many other academic clubs and programs, serves as a tutor and volunteer, and was a member of the swim and cross-country teams. “With his knowledge in many areas, he is sure to go far in life and make an impact on his community,” his teacher wrote. Fernando plans to attend UCLA, major in neuroscience and pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. He wrote that the scholarship is a way of investing in him and the lives of others.

Trevor Kammerer, Fresno, Clovis North High School

Despite some family struggles and financial setbacks, Trevor has maintained a positive attitude and put forth his best effort while remaining focused on his dream. Demonstrating ambition and forward thinking, he already has 40 community college units. He has excelled with school, earning a 3.91 GPA, and also with extracurricular activities, including baseball, school clubs and student government. His community service includes being co-founder and president of the Fresno County Habitat for Humanity youth chapter. Trevor plans to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and double major in ag business and experience industry management. His future goal is to attend law school and pursue a career involving law, business and media. Trevor’s counselor wrote that he is scholarly, giving, honorable and inspirational, and that his work ethic, commitment and drive have brought him very far.

Paola Martinez, Soledad, Soledad High School

Ranked top 10 in her class with a 4.5 GPA, Paola has placed the utmost importance on academics. She has also completed nearly 40 college units, giving her valuable higher education experience. Outside the classroom, she is a hard-working and well-rounded individual who is involved in track and field and many extracurricular activities. She is a dedicated mentor and leader with Club Azteca, Girls’ Leadership Network, Peer Leaders and Future Teachers Program. Paola plans to attend UC Berkeley, major in business administration and pursue a career in business law. Her academic journey is one that her family cannot afford, but Paola will not let the fear of student debt prevent her from reaching her educational and professional goals. Her teacher wrote that Paola’s leadership and vision have made a positive impact on her school community and will continue at the university level.

Gissell Mendez, Napa, Vintage High School 

The daughter of immigrants, Gissell is a proud, soon-to-be first-generation college student. Due to certain disadvantages in life, she had to take personal initiative of her education and participated in some beneficial programs and opportunities to improve her future. Gissell’s determination to challenge herself at school, which included taking AP classes, resulted in a 4.1 GPA. Her school activities included four years in FFA, serving as an officer for three, plus the AVID Club, Spanish Club, and Sheep and Poultry Enterprise Clubs. Among her many community service endeavors is being a teacher at a therapeutic horse riding center. Gissell plans to attend UC Davis, study animal science and pursue a career as a veterinarian. Gissell’s teacher wrote that “her work ethic, intellectual curiosity and integrity are extraordinary” and “her kindness and compassion will be a vital addition to any campus.”

Yareli Bolanos Suarez, Bakersfield, East Bakersfield High School

Yareli is resolute to advance her education because her parents never had the same opportunity to attend college. With a 3.8 GPA, she is a diligent student and role model who has been involved with the History Club, Mecha Club, Spanish Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society and community service activities. Yareli would be the first in her family to attend college. She plans to start at a community college, transfer to a four-year college and major in kinesiology or exercise science. Yareli’s career goal is to be a pediatric physical therapist. “I want to prove to myself that I can be capable of achieving many things in life no matter how difficult it can be,” she wrote. “This scholarship would make a huge difference in furthering my education.”  

Martin Koch, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo High School

Vineyards and winemaking are part of Martin’s family history in his native Argentina, and he wants to continue that legacy in California. His father is the viticulture and enology coordinator and instructor at Allan Hancock College. While Martin wants to follow a similar educational path studying wine and viticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he is focused on working in the private sector of the industry. With that goal in mind, he has already gained experience and insight working at Chamisal Vineyards. As a straight-A student throughout high school, Martin balanced school with sports, school clubs, volunteering and work. In the community, he tutored elementary school students in English and math and was a youth volleyball coach. Citing his strong academic qualities, bilingual talent and personal traits, Martin’s teacher wrote that he will “undoubtedly influence positively the outcome of any learning community.”

Arianna Cardenas-Romero, Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley High School 

School has always been the No. 1 priority for Arianna. Her father, who grew up in Mexico, was not able to finish school due to work, so she knows that college will provide a wide variety of opportunities. She has been involved in numerous campus activities, including FFA for four years. She received three FFA degrees, participated in judging and speaking, and raised market hogs through its Supervised Agricultural Experience projects. She has also dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to the Marian Regional Medical Center and Santa Maria Valley Animal Shelter, in addition to holding a part-time job. With her love for agriculture, Arianna plans to study viticulture at Allan Hancock College and transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “Arianna is well-deserving of any scholarship or support,” wrote her ag teacher. “She has the grit and determination to achieve her goals.”

About the California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation

The CAWG Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that awards scholarships to high school seniors whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower. For more information, visit www.cawgfoundation.org.

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