June 5, 2009

Big SDSU Awards Go to Sweetwater Students

President’s Diversity Scholarship Goes to Three

As college costs rise, three outstanding Sweetwater district seniors are getting a big boost to help foot the bill.

Graduating students from three Sweetwater schools are recipients of San Diego State University President Stephen Weber’s 2009 Diversity Scholarships.

Margarita Salinas, April Smitley, and Karine Mendez each will each receive a total of $14,000 to defray the cost of attending SDSU over four years.

The honorees all participated in the Compact for Success, the program that guarantees Sweetwater students admission to SDSU if they satisfy rigorous academic benchmarks.

School Board President Jim Cartmill said the fact that Sweetwater students captured 3 of the 9 scholarships awarded countywide shows that the Compact is putting college within the reach of more students.

“Since 2000, Sweetwater schools have worked to create a college-going culture. We’ve adopted academic reforms and offered students support and intervention to help them become college-ready,” he said. “These young ladies took the Compact challenge seriously and are primed to go the distance.”

All of the Sweetwater award-winners overcame a variety of economic and personal challenges to excel academically.

Karine Mendez is a first-generation Mexican-American graduating with a 3.91 grade-point average (GPA). Though her parents obtained only a limited education in Mexico, she is a member of the California Scholarship Federation. At Montgomery High, she also participated with the Associated Student Body and the girls’ golf team.

Margarita Salinas has maintained a 3.77 GPA at Southwest High. She initially struggled with a lack of fluency and worked hard to fulfill her college requirements with English Language Development courses, taking classes at adult school and summer school. She succeeded to become a volunteer literacy tutor at the YMCA. Margarita plans to major in liberal studies and hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

April Smitley earned a 3.55 GPA at Mar Vista High. She overcame the challenge of becoming temporarily blind in one eye after an eye infection. Through treatment, she recovered her sight and put her renewed vision to work on her studies. She has worked to improve Imperial Beach as a volunteer with Paint IB, Wildcoast and community beach clean-ups. She is also a member of the Key Club and is working on her Girl Scouts Gold Award. She plans to major in management.

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