The Simon Family Foundation celebrates the next generation of Scholars

Eight sophomores at Mission Hills High School have been selected to be part of the next generation of Simon Scholars who will joining a family of support and encouragement, after a competitive application process.

Story by Salma Ramirez, Copy Editor

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After a rigorous application and panel interview, eight sophomores from Mission Hills High School were honored the Simon Family Foundation (SFF) Scholarship—a scholarship offered to students at select schools from San Diego and Orange County based on resilience through adversity and academic excellence. In conjunction to the $16,000 awarded for undergraduate study at a four-year university, each Simon Scholar receives a laptop, coaching and support for college admissions, leadership and character development camps, a college tour, and lifelong friendships that spring from the tight-knit family of scholars and staff.

  “I am looking forward to all the camps and activities I will be able to experience, and I’m excited to meet everyone who is a part of the family foundation,” Hazel Soriano (10) said.

  “I had been dreaming of becoming a Simon Scholar since seventh grade. I will forever cherish the day I received the news of my Simon Scholarship acceptance because it made me realize that my dreams can come true,” Adriana De Paz (10) said.

I had been dreaming of becoming a Simon Scholar since seventh grade. I will forever cherish the day I received the news of my Simon Scholarship acceptance because it made me realize that my dreams can come true.”

— Adriana De Paz (10)

  As the application rounds progressed, rejection came for the majority of applicants and only 52 San Diego students became Scholars (of 121 total new Scholars); but despite this setback, it is important to keep seeking other college-related opportunities.

  “I want to congratulate the students who applied to the Simon Scholars Program because applying in itself is a victory. I hope that you all can get involved in clubs and programs to take advantage of the resources on campus. If finances are something that haunt you when thinking about attending college, apply to 100 percent need met schools!” said Frances Cruz, the San Marcos Program Coordinator of SFF.

  The sophomore scholars heard back from SFF just as the current senior scholars’ college acceptance letters came in from UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, Cal State San Marcos, University of Michigan, San Diego State University, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to name a few. These graduating Grizzlies attest to the role that SFF played in their success and are role models for the younger scholars who are still identifying their fit factors and building their college lists. Although the seniors in the program will not be mentoring the new Scholars, the juniors have been preparing to step up as leaders. Over time, this has helped create a strong network ranging from high school Simon Scholars to college graduates focused on their careers, an advantage that most first generation students do not have in order to navigate their professional development.

  “I’ve been told that the program is more like a family that will help me throughout high school and college,” Soriano said.

  With every new generation of Simon Scholars, the foundation builds a greater impact in the lives of teenagers through growth and improvement. Awe-struck and inspired, we congratulate the class of 2021 Simon Scholars: Ricardo Cruz, Edna De Leon, Adriana De Paz, Mikaela Hawkins, Alexa Lopez, Valeria Najera, Hazel Soriano, and Uriel Zepeda.