Richmond Promise Scholar spotlight: Ariana Ortega

Ariana Ortega, San Francisco State University, Class of 2021

Meet the Richmond Promise Scholars, a growing movement of hundreds of students from Richmond and North Richmond who are currently attending over 100 colleges and universities. They are beneficiaries of the Richmond Promise college preparedness, scholarship and guidance program, which is part of a $35 million, 10-year investment by Chevron to help make college more affordable and attainable for local students. For some students, the Promise wasn’t just an opportunity to achieve their college dream, but also to help younger generations do the same. In this series, we feature interns from the Summer Associates program talking about their experience.

Ariana Ortega | San Francisco State University| Class of 2021

Ariana Ortega is a proud Richmond native, who graduated from Making Waves Academy in 2017. She is in her junior year at San Francisco State University. Ariana credits many of her motivation to her parents and has received the support necessary to succeed thanks to scholarship programs like the Richmond Promise and CAP Bay Area. After she graduates from college, Ariana hopes to become an educator. Ariana wishes to provide students in her community with a high-quality education so they can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Expand on hardships/motivational factors that influence you to this day.

A:  “My name is Ariana Ortega and I graduated from Making Waves Academy in 2017. I am currently a student at San Francisco State University, entering my third year as a Liberal Studies major with a minor in Education. I grew a passion for education in college but I always knew I wanted to work with children. I hope to one day become an elementary school teacher. I grew up in a low-income family in Richmond, California. Education has always emphasized in my home by my parents because they were unable to get past the 6th grade. Seeing them struggle in their jobs and my mother get backlash for not speaking English motivates me to be in school. They influenced me to be a better person every day and value my education.” 

Q: How has the Richmond Promise played a role in your education?

A: “For me, Richmond Promise is a sense of hope. Richmond is not a community people look at and say good things about or expect students to go to college. But having an organization like Richmond Promise not only provides a scholarship but provides guidance in college. They are a resource to me when I have questions related to financial aid. They make sure their students know they are there to help and are available to them. I know that when I have any questions or need resources they can help me out. I know that Richmond Promise will always be on my side and they have opportunities to work alongside them for summer. I am lucky to be part of the summer 2019 summer associates.”

Q: What do you want to contribute to Richmond or the world?

A: “I hope to one day work in Richmond as a k-5th teacher and give back this way. I want to encourage young children to learn to love learning. I want to make children think of themselves going to college at a young age. Since the start of 5th grade, I was always told I was going to college. From that point on I always had the mentality that I was going to college. I knew that not going to college was not an option.  I wish to also start college awareness when I teach.”

Q: Can you tell us about your current college experience?

A: “Currently, I will be starting my third year at SFSU. When I first started, I was a little lost because I did not entirely understand the system I was in. On-campus, I was part of the Metro College Success Program that is designed for students to receive guidance in their first two years at SFSU. They provide free tutoring, private classes and advising for us. Although not everything was handed down I had to understand what classes to take and what not to take. I was in the advising office a lot because I frequently had questions. From going so often I could understand how to find different things on my portal. It was not easy for me to finally be on track for 4 years because I had to take remedial classes and before I did not know they did not count toward graduation. Getting familiar with the SFSU system was important for me because I knew once I understand what I needed to do and how to do it I was going to succeed and stay on track.”

Q: What are you looking forward after receiving your bachelor’s/transferring?

A: “I look forward to exploring the teaching world. I look forward to getting my credentials and having my own classroom with my own set of students. I do not only look forward to helping children grow but also growing myself as a person and teacher. I hope that I can make a real difference with my [college degree].”


This year the Richmond Promise Scholarship will open their 2019-20 Scholarship Application on Dec. 1, 2019. Students will be able to apply online at

Students who are interested in applying for the scholarship can complete the following interest form here.

Students who complete this form will be sent information once the application opens, as well as key dates and times when Richmond Promise will come to their school to provide in-person support with our application.

Here are a list of other key dates to keep in mind:

  • October 1st: California State University Application Opens at
  • October 1st: FAFSA and California Dream Act application for financial aid open at:
    • (for US Citizens or permanent legal residents
    • (for California students who are currently undocumented or in the process of becoming legal residents)
  • November 30th: Deadline to submit CSU and UC college applications
  • December 1st: Richmond Promise Scholarship Opens at
  • March 2nd: Last day to submit your FAFSA or California Dream Act for Cal Grant Priority
  • March 14th: Deadline to submit Richmond Promise Scholarship Application

You can also follow the Richmond Promise on their social media platforms to stay updated