Chula Vista student receives $100,000 scholarship to attend Harvard University
By Pablo J. Sáinz
When Giovanna Robledo was in elementary school, she saw in the news a report about the immigrants who die trying to cross the border in the desert. Her mother, Andre Robledo, said Giovanna told her, “Mom, we should put water in the desert so that they won’t die of thirst.”
Since an early age, Giovanna has shown an interest in helping others, especially undocumented immigrants and their families.
Her career goal of becoming an immigration lawyer to helped the 17-year-old focus in excelling outside and inside of school.
Throughout her four years at Olympian High School, in Chula Vista, she maintained a 4.5 grade point average, and was involved in different extracurricular activities. During her senior year, Giovanna was student body president, and she graduated this week as the valedictorian of her class. This fall she will attend Harvard University, where she will major in psychology with plans to enter law school to specialize in immigration law.
“Immigration, that’s what I’m passionate about,” she said. “I want to help illegal immigrants who are struggling; I want to help their families.”
In the past year, Giovanna has contributed several stories to La Prensa San Diego, giving voice to youth in different political and social events, such as the last presidential election.
Her interest in social issues was one of the reasons Giovanna Robledo is one of only four students in the nation being presented with a $100,000 Ronald McDonald House Charities RMHC / HACER National Scholarship.
Students are selected for this prestigious award based on their academic achievement, commitment to community service projects, leadership, and financial need.
This week, RMHC and McDonald’s representatives presented Giovanna with an oversized $100,000 check during the senior award ceremony at her high school.
“Definitely this is going to allow me to be able to continue to focus in school and community issues because I won’t have to have a job for a while,” she said, smiling. “I know I’m very blessed.”
The RMHC/HACER Scholarship was established in 1985 by a McDonald’s owner/operator to help Hispanic high school students in his community finance their college education.
“We have an outstanding young woman in Giovanna,” said Chuck Day, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.
For Art Sandoval, a local McDonald’s franchisee in Oceanside, the RMHC/HACER National Scholarship is McDonald’s way of thanking the Latino community.
“Many of our employees and costumers are Hispanic,” he said before the award ceremony. “This scholarship is of great assistance to our Hispanic youth.”
Giovanna received notice of the $100,000 award a couple of weeks ago via e-mail. She said that when she read it, she ran downstairs to tell her mom, and both of them started jumping up and down.
Giovanna said that her parents have played a major role in her education. Giovanna was born in Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother. Her parents met while they were studying medicine at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. The family moved to San Diego when Giovanna was still a toddler.
As associate director at the Parent Institute for Quality Education, a non-profit organization that empowers Latino parents to help their children’s educational goals, Giovanna’s father, Carlos Robledo, said he has applied all the advice he gives other parents with his own children.
Giovanna’s brother, Ricardo, is a junior at Harvard, and her sister is a junior at Olympian High School.
“Parents have to make education a priority in their children’s lives,” Carlos Robledo said. “They have to get involved and get informed about the different school programs, and they have to believe and support their children’s goals.”
Giovanna said that one of the first things she is going to do when she gets to Harvard is get involved in learning more about the local immigrant community.
“I never want to stop helping immigrants,” she said.
To learn more about the RMHC/HACER National Scholarship, please visit www.rmhc.com.