Peninsula College Fund awards 2013 scholarship to 15 first generation college bound students

by Carole Melis on June 13, 2013

The Peninsula College Fund (PCF), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping local low-income, first-generation college students achieve their educational and career goals, announced that it has awarded college scholarships to 15 high school senior students from East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park and Redwood City. Included are Menlo-Atherton High School students Ilaisaane Fakalata (St. Mary’s College of California), pictured top with mentor Darsha Davidoff, and  Niesha Ford, below right with mentor Carmen Perkins (College of St. Benedict).

In addition to the $12,000 scholarship, each PCF scholar will be provided with one-on-one mentoring, summer internship support, and college and career success training.

An awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, June 18, to honor the 2013 PCF scholarship winners as well as 12 PCF scholars who have recently graduated from college. The event, to be held from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, is open to the public and will feature a keynote address, “From First-Generation to Success” by Ron Gonzales, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV).

Niesha Ford with PCF mentor Carmen Perkins“The Peninsula College Fund is an impressive example of a local organization that is helping promising low-income students achieve not only in college, but beyond, producing young people who are ready to build their careers and contribute to their communities,” said Gonzalesy. “Representing the Hispanic Foundation, I am honored to support a group whose goals align so closely to our vision of inspiring Hispanic families and children to achieve personal greatness.”

With over 35 years of private and public leadership experience, Gonzales is a former high tech business and government executive. He previously served as mayor of San Jose from 1999 to 2006, an executive with Hewlett-Packard Company, Santa Clara County Supervisor, Mayor of Sunnyvale and member of the Sunnyvale City Council. His work has also been featured in the best-selling book, Reinventing Government.

Also speaking at the June 18 ceremony will be Daniel Valencia, 2009 PCF scholar and 2013 graduate of California State University East Bay. Valencia, who received his B.S. in biology, is planning to attend medical school and will be participating in the UCLA Summer MCAT Prep Program as part of that plan. “My family could not be more proud,” he said. “I want to thank PCF for providing aid, support and advice. My supporters in PCF have been amazing tutors, counselors and friends. I could never have gotten this far without them.”

The 15 new PCF scholars join a group of 81 students who have received support since the organization was founded in 2005. Of this number, 95 percent have graduated from college or attend college on the path to completion — a testimony to the effectiveness of PCF’s unique combination of scholarship funds, dedicated mentors, and summer job opportunities and training. Nationally, less than half of low-income, first-generation college students graduate in six years.

“The Peninsula College Fund is on an exciting growth trajectory,” said Catherine Crystal Foster, PCF Executive Director. “With our incoming class of scholars, we will have students at every UC campus in the state. At the same time, we have built on our highly effective model, leading to designate us a Top-Rated Nonprofit of 2012, based on our stellar student and mentor reviews.”

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