Eight Richmond high school seniors who earned the Chevron Richmond Somos — Latin American and Hispanic Employee Network scholarship were honored at a banquet last week for demonstrating scholastic achievement, community involvement and leadership skills.
The Somos program, which has been awarding scholarships for the last eight years, gave each awarded teen a $1,000 scholarship toward their college education. The recipients were Kevin Arias and Luis Castro of Pinole Valley High; Andrea Hernandez and Arcenia Macedo of Richmond High; Nancy Gutierrez, David Padilla and Maria Zavala of Middle College High; and Deidra Lemoine of Making Waves Academy.
During a dinner event May 14, their parents got to hear more about their children’s accomplishments and what that meant for their futures.
“It was wonderful seeing these kids that worked so hard in their four years and in the application process there with the support and love of their parents,” said Adrienne Aguilar, who runs the Chevron Richmond Somos scholarship program.They heard an inspiring talk from Dr. Mayra Padilla of Contra Costa College (photo above) about the importance of college and life experiences. Padilla received her PhD in Neuroscience from U.C. Berkeley and was a lead researcher at Stanford for a time before becoming an educator.
Also, Officer LeRon Cummings (photo below) of the Solano County Sherriff’s Department, who is originally from Richmond and attended Salesian High, told students that even if they came from difficult upbringings, they had no excuses or reasons not to finish school and seek a better life. Struggles should be used to push you through school, not out of it, he said.
We profiled one of last year’s recipients, Claudia Campos, who said that while she liked getting some extra cash to help start her college career, she most appreciated how Aguilar stayed in touch with her after she went on to UC Berkeley.
“Once I received the money, they didn’t lose contact,” Campos told us. “[Aguilar] kept in touch, asking how my semester has been. The support as much as the money helps.”
Aguilar said as a Richmond native she’s seen promising students from low-income families face the prospect of having to set aside their education.
“I’ve seen the struggles of some to go to college and a lot of people couldn’t afford it,” she said. “I am thankful that I can be a part of a group and a company that values the education of the community.”