Application deadline is March 24, 2017

California Wine Grape Growers Foundation Awards $41,000 in Scholarship Help

Posted by on May 18, 2015

The California Wine Grape Growers Foundation (CWGGF) awarded 10 high school seniors $41,000 in college scholarships. The foundation scholarships are awarded each year to students whose parents are vineyard employees of winegrape growers.

“It’s an honor for the foundation to award these scholarships each year,” said JR Shannon, CWGGF’s chairman. “The scholarships not only help high school students achieve their career goals through a college education but also recognize our vineyard employees as valued members of our winegrape grower family.”

This year the foundation awarded more scholarships than in its previous 13 years. Each year the nine-member CWGGF Board selects seven recipients from high schools throughout the state. This year, a larger number of exceptional applications were received that fulfilled the selection requirements of scholastic ability, community involvement, leadership, a 500-word essay, and financial need.

“Generous foundation donations and participation by members of the California Association of Winegrape Growers allowed us to award more students with scholarships to a California college,” said Shannon.

This year’s CWGGF scholarships provided three $8,000, four-year scholarships and two $4,000, four-year scholarships to any campus in the UC or California State University (CSU) system. CWGGF also awarded four $2,000, two-year scholarships to any California community college. Additionally, the Robert N. Miller Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to a Central Coast student who plans to major in viticulture and enology programs at Alan Hancock Community College or California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).

Since its inception in 1998, the foundation program has awarded $342,000 in scholarships. This year’s California Wine Grape Growers Foundation scholarship awards are as follows:

Four-year Scholarship Recipients ($8,000 each)
Marcos Alcantar, Napa High School, Napa
Erica Escalera, Galt High School, Galt
Maria Ruiz Gonzalez, Cloverdale High School, Cloverdale

Four-year Scholarship Recipients ($4,000 each)
Carolina Banales, Florin High School, Sacramento
Martha Montanez, Lower Lake High School, Clearlake

Two-year Scholarship Recipients ($2,000 each)
Rosa Rodriguez Evangelista, St. Helena High School, St. Helena
Maria Perez, Lower Lake High, Clearlake Park
Gregory Scaramella, Cloverdale High School, Cloverdale
Caitlyn Thomasson, Windsor High School, Windsor

Robert Miller Scholarship ($1,000)
Sydney Townes, Cabrillo High School, Lompoc

Note: The Robert “Bob” Miller scholarship helps students in the Central Coast who want to remain there and develop a career in viticulture and enology. Bob Miller was a leader in the state’s wine community who helped to establish the Central Coast as a leading winegrowing region of California. Bob’s family created this scholarship “of up to $1,000” to honor his memory.

As part of the scholarship application, students are required to submit a two-page essay (approximately 500 words) describing themselves and their career goals. Below are short summaries from those essays.

Marcos Alcantar, Napa High School, Napa
Marcos came to the U.S. from the remote pueblo of San Andres Ixtlan. As a third grade student he did not understand English, but was determined “to learn everything about my surroundings.” By sixth grade, Marcos was fluent in English and ready to “navigate this world, which presented me with difficult challenges but fruitful opportunities.” He plans to pursue his academic interests in either animation or aerospace engineering.

Carolina Banales, Florin High School, Sacramento
Carolina’s determination to attend college is influenced by her parents who risked their lives to come to the U.S. to ensure their children would have more opportunities to succeed in life. “The only way to escape this predestined future set by society is to stay in school,” said Carolina. “My accomplishments will be the motivation for younger Latina girls who are told they will grow up to do nothing.” Carolina says her career passion is to become a pediatric oncologist and care for children, regardless of their background.

Erica Escalera, Galt High School, Galt
Family illnesses and exposure to medical care inspired Erica to pursue a career as a physician. She says, “My dad has told me that I will become the individual who will open doors for my younger siblings, I will create a legacy for my family by becoming the first person to attend college and [become] the first doctor in our family.” Erica was the first student in her high school to obtain a summer student internship at Kaiser Permanente. She says, “In the future, I will become a cardiologist who is helping improve an individual’s life.”

Rosa Rodriguez Evangelista, St. Helena High School, St. Helena
Rosa says her grandmother is the most important person in her life. Before she passed away, Rosa promised that she would return to Mexico to show a college diploma in her hands. Rosa was raised to think of others and would like to pursue a career as a Human Service Officer for the United Nations. Rosa says, “I am not going to college as ‘the exception’ to the stereotype. I want to go to college as Rosa Saraith Rodriguez, proud daughter of Esteban Rodriguez and Gricelda Evangelista.”

Maria Ruiz Gonzalez, Cloverdale High School, Cloverdale
From kindergarten to fourth grade, Maria struggled to learn English. With the support of her parents, who could not speak English, Maria not only worked hard in school, but also achieved a 4.0 GPA every semester of high school. She has a passion for science and would like to go after a career as a biochemist to become a stem cell researcher where she could “research ways to help people with cancer or other diseases.”

Martha Montanez, Lower Lake High School, Clearlake
Martha says obtaining a higher education is the least she can do for the sacrifices her parents made to provide for her. Her volunteer efforts at local, charitable events helped her understand the importance of community and the positive changes that can be accomplished for low-income families struggling on a daily basis. Martha said, “One of the reasons I wish to further my education is to come back to my community and continue to improve the lives of those who find themselves in need, through practicing medicine.”

Maria Perez, Lower Lake High, Clearlake Park
Maria has known obstacles most of her life, from trying to learn English at a young age to being bullied for her appearance. But she also learned how to keep going from the love and support of her family. Maria’s goal is to be the first in her family to attend college. Following community college, she plans to transfer to a four-year college to obtain a degree in the medical field. “I want a better future to pay my parents back for everything they gave me,” she said.

Gregory Scaramella, Cloverdale High School, Cloverdale
For most of his life, Gregory has watched his mom suffer from cancer and his dad work 12 – 14 hour days to pay the medical bills and provide for the family. Gregory says these family struggles have made him a better person. “[My dad] is the best man I know. My mom is the strongest woman I know,” he said. Gregory said his parents have proved to him that he can achieve anything he wants. His career interests are in agricultural business management, owning vineyards and selling winegrapes.

Caitlyn Thomasson, Windsor High School, Windsor
With a passion for the arts, classic stories and history, Caitlyn wants to be among those in her family who have graduated from college. She enjoys the outdoors and helping others and is attracted to careers in environmental work or possibly in health care as a psychotherapist. Caitlyn describes herself as a “strong young woman in life” and is proud of the range of her accomplishments, from high school sports, the debate team, volunteering at the animal shelter, to being named Miss Teen California.

Sydney Townes, Cabrillo High School, Lompoc
Struggling with dyslexia, Sydney has worked extra-hard academically to earn a 4.0 grade point average. She attributes her high school leadership and strong sense of life direction to an award-wining involvement in school sports activities. Sydney says she will rely on her academics, community service, and leadership qualities to earn academic and community scholarships in order to achieve her career goal of becoming a winemaker.

Posted in: News