Rowland Unified School District

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Kimberly Cardenas, Alberto Jeronimo and Maria Ortiz from Nogales HS Are Gates Millennium Scholars



Kimberly Cardenas, Alberto Jeronimo,  and Maria Ortiz Receive Full Scholarships Through Graduation to College of Their Choice

LA PUENTE, CA – MAY 13, 2013 – For the sixth consecutive year, Gates Millennium Scholarships have been awarded to Nogales High School seniors. Kimberly Cardenas, Alberto Jeronimo and Maria Ortiz have been selected by the nation’s largest minority scholarship program to receive college through graduate study scholarships to the college or university of their choice. The three International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate students are in the top 10 of their class: Cardenas, who speaks French & Spanish, will attend Cornell University; Jeronimo, who speaks Spanish, will attend UC Berkeley; and Ortiz, who speaks Spanish, will attend UC San Diego. The three students will be recognized on May 14 at the Board of Education Meeting at 7 p.m. (Rowland Unified School District Office, 1830 S. Nogales Street, Rowland Heights, 91748.)

            The news is still “sinking in” for the three close classmates after the extensive application process, which included eight written essays and additional recommendations. “We couldn’t have achieved this success without our counselor Ms. Sara Hall,” said Jeronimo. “She wrote our nominations, assisted with our recommendations and helped us through the entire process.”

            “This means much more than just going to college, for me, I will be the first person and woman in my family to attend and graduate from an American University,” said Cardenas, whose father attended the University of Guadalajara but left when he couldn’t afford the tuition and came to the U.S. She is the assistant student director of the Nogales Choir Program, is active in the Treble Singers, the jazz choir Vocal Impressions,  her church choir, and was in the school musical, “Bye Bye Birdie.” Cardenas is vice president of the IB Questors club and is a fourth year French student who hopes to study abroad. After working on the Obama campaign, she now plans to major in Government. Her inspiration? “My Mom and teacher Ms. Mollo – she is not just an English teacher, she has been a mentor and a friend. I think she has really helped me learn about myself and what I can do. My Mom is my best friend and she supports me unconditionally.”

            Jeronimo also comes from an immigrant family and shares that his ambitious drive and inspiration to succeed (even though he jokes it has meant a lack of sleep) has come from his father who came here from Mexico for a better life. Jeronimo is president of Key Club, vice president of the National Honor Society, Secretary for the environmental club El Planeta, is a tennis athlete, and is a member of numerous clubs. He enjoys fixing computers with his father. “This scholarship means that I can now accomplish what I desire – whether it is pre-med or computer engineering.”

            “I would like to enter the bio-engineering field. I love the idea that I could be designing prosthetics and be able to give back and help people,” said Ortiz, who is relieved now that she does not have to worry about going into debt to make her dream come alive. Ortiz is an athlete – she has played basketball three years, badminton and tennis, and is also an award-winning photographer. She has photographed 50 plus campus events, won 13 awards from this year’s Los Angeles County Fair and multiple first place awards at the Pomona Art Show. “You have education for free here and not necessarily everyone has it, so when you have the chance, you should make the best out of it, that it why I entered the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program here at Nogales,” said Ortiz. “My Dad is my biggest inspiration because he left Oregon to move me back here since the schools there did not have AP or IB. He has sacrificed for me and has always been there for me.”

            In addition to undergraduate and doctoral program tuition, books, meal plans and financial assistance to travel to visit family, the Gates Millennium Scholars receive academic support, mentoring and leadership training. The Gates Millennium Scholar Program reports that recipients have an average five-year graduation rate of almost 80 percent, 45 percent higher than the six-year rate for all college students. 
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