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The San Diego Foundation awards $4 million in scholarships to 1,000 local students

The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Program awarded $4 million dollars in scholarships to more than 1,000 local college students, including Andrea Barajas.

“I just started crying," Barajas said. "I honestly did cause it was really exciting to know that someone was there to support me and other people who didn’t have all the resources that they needed and so that was really exciting.”

Barajas graduated from The Preuss School at UC San Diego in June. She will be the first person in her family to attend college when she goes to UC Berkeley this fall.


In addition to the scholarship from the San Diego Foundation, Barajas has grants and financial aid that will cover most of the the cost of tuition and housing. The UC estimates the cost of tuition and housing for a year is around $40,000.

“Having ways to access certain opportunities is a big thing and I think college is a really great place to do that and just furthering that education to be able to have those opportunities that weren’t always granted to people before me,” Barajas said.  

According to the San Diego Foundation, scholarship awards averaged $4,000 and most recipients — like Andrea — are the first in their families to attend college and are from economically disadvantaged to middle-income communities that are historically underrepresented in higher education.

Julian Villalvazo is a college and career success specialist at the Barrio Logan College Institute — a nonprofit after school program with a mission to, "break the cycle of poverty by helping underserved students become the first in their families to go to college." He said the cost of attending college is a barrier for the students he works with, like Andrea.

“They’re really happy about getting their award letters, but then they’re like, ‘How am I going to pay for it?’ Andrea was one of those students. She was really excited about Berkeley,” Villalvazo said.


Villalvazo first started working with Andrea when she was in 10th grade.

“She has a very determined attitude,” Villalvazo said. “She knows what her goal is and she wants to pursue it and she’s going to do what it takes to pursue it. I could tell just by working with her and seeing her succeed year in and year out.”

The San Diego Foundation partners with nonprofits like the Barrio Logan College Institute.

“The work that they do to make sure our students have scholarships so they don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of college, it makes a big difference,” Villalvazo said.     

He said every student who graduates from the Institute goes to college and 71% graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree.

“We’re seeing a lot more students that are the first in their families to get a college degree and that’s furthering our families along and hopefully collectively our communities along and that’s really what we want to do,” Villalvazo said.  
Andrea said she plans to study cognitive science and wants to get the education that her parents couldn’t. She also wanted her parents to know how grateful she is.

“Thank you for everything because you’ve done so much and I couldn’t thank you more because everything that you’ve given me is more than enough,” Barajas said.