Beginning in 2014, 12 exceptional high school seniors will embark on college careers supported by sizable scholarships from Don Diego Scholarship Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the San Diego County Fair. In past years, four recipients were selected. Together, this year’s dozen will enjoy $39,000 in funding, an increase of nearly 60% compared with $25,000 in funding in 2013 and nearly 100% over 2012 and past years.
The Don Diego college scholarships are offered to outstanding high school seniors throughout San Diego County who have participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2014. Eligibility requirements and the application form are at dondiegoscholarship.org/scholarships/don-diego-scholarship-application.
For questions, contact Executive Director Chana Mannen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-792-4210.
Don Diego Chair Paul Ecke III states, “The Board voted unanimously to approve the increase in recipients and funding. Every year, we receive applications from dozens of deserving students who display exceptional academic and extracurricular accomplishments, community service and commitment to the agricultural heritage of our area. Awarding only four scholarships each year was onerous, especially in light of steadily rising college costs, which place a heavy financial burden upon students and families. Granting scholarships to more students is a huge step for the Foundation and one that we are delighted to take.”
In the new paradigm, three scholarships – $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 – will be awarded in each of four categories: 4-H, FFA, Fair Employee and Fair Exhibitor. One of the four $5,000 recipients, deemed most outstanding by the judging committee, will also receive the $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship, for a total $10,000 award. This endowment scholarship, created in 2013, honors Don Diego founder Robert Spanjian, who has served as Secretary-Treasurer since the Foundation’s inception in 1986.
2013 Spanjian/Exhibitor scholarship recipient, Tessa Adler, is at Yale majoring in Chemical Engineering with an international focus. She says, “The $10,000 scholarship is making a monumental difference in my pursuit to use the potential of engineering to promote peace and well-being across the globe.”
Other past recipients are excelling in an array of careers; many connected with agriculture, animals and other agrarian pursuits. 2003 scholar Alysha Stehly co-owns Valley Center-based Vesper Vineyards. Stehly joined the Don Diego Board in 2012 so she could help enable other local students to pursue their college and career dreams. She says, “The Foundation means more than scholarships. It supports the future of agriculture by encouraging students to pursue educational opportunities that will sustain the industry into a new era.”
To raise funds in support of the increased allotment of scholarships, Don Diego has launched an aggressive campaign to broaden donation vehicles and access. Mannen says, “We invite people to explore opportunities at dondiegoscholarship.org and to make an investment that will pay dividends for students and our entire community.”The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984. The Foundation has awarded more than $600,000 in college scholarships and grants for agricultural education since 1986. Annual scholarships support students who are ambassadors for the county, academically and through their achievements. Grants also are provided to sponsor low-income students’ participation in the Fair’s Plant*Grow*Eat program that teaches in a hands-on way about nutrition and agriculture. Funds are raised through an annual gala, Legacy Brick program, Amigo Club and donations. For more information, visit dondiegoscholarship.org and follow Don Diego on Facebook.