Meet the Scholars

Being awarded the SDEF scholarship gave me hope. It gave me the support I needed and made me realize that I can be successful in college. Before, I was terrified to think college was my next step in life. Now, this scholarship makes me want to do everything in my power to graduate from college in four years and earn my teaching credential. The scholarship funds will go to books, tests, and tuition. These funds also lift a weight off of my shoulders, knowing that I have the support of a different family, my academic family. 

- Starr DeAlba 

I made the Dean’s List while at Cal-State San Marcos and volunteered at a German Immersion school. I started out with a chemistry major, but after two years, realized that chemistry was not for me. I switched to German, because of my passion for learning languages. As a result, I studied abroad at Mannheim University for the Fall of 2017 semester.  Meetings with SDEF Mentor, Ms. Castleberry, helped point me in the right direction not only in regards to graduating, but also getting a teaching credential. Meeting with future and current educators never fails to keep me motivated toward my goal of becoming a teacher.


- Anderson Tablas, Senior at SDSD majoring in German

In my second year, I lost some financial aid from other sources but that did not stop me from going to school. Since the SDEF scholarship is continuous, year after year, I knew that I had to keep my grades high. Because I did, I was able to apply for others scholarships. As of today, I am debt-free and continuing my dream of becoming a teacher. Thank you for the moral support of the SDEF scholarship. 

- Alberto Vega Hernandez, Junior at SDSU, majoring in Liberal Studies

Growing up in a family of two former math teachers, I knew at a young age that I would pursue a higher education. What I did not know, however, was how to pay for it. Struggling financially after immigrating to America, my family's situation serves as a daily reminder that I must give my best at school to become a well-qualified applicant for college scholarships and have the opportunity to better my future through education. The SDEF scholarship serves as a stepping stone that will push me one step closer toward accomplishing my lifelong goals. As I look back on my childhood in Vietnam, it was apparent to me the difficult life of those with disabilities. Due to lack of government supports and good healthcare facilities, many with disabilities live in poverty or end up on the streets. As the result, my career goal is to design and develop assistive devices that will give individuals with disabilities better chances in pursuing higher education and finding employment opportunities. I want to work with hospitals and research centers to aid members of low-income communities with reasonably priced devices and one day bring my innovations back to my country.

- Duyen Tran, Freshman at UCSD, majoring in Bioengineering


My goal is to become a high school English teacher. I know the SDEF scholarship will help me achieve my goals.

- Alexandra Palomera, Sophomore at SDSU, majoring in English

My goal is to become a high school math teacher. I have always loved math and have excelled in it. I have also always loved helping others and that is why I want to become a teacher. My mom is a teacher and has been a huge inspiration for me. I'm excited to get to major in something I love and stay so close to home. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!

- Mackenzie Kelly, Freshman at SDSU, majoring in Mathematics for Secondary Education

I have many goals for my future. Not only do I want to teach high school calculus, but I also want to be a mentor and a role model. This spark first lit inside of me when I was in middle school and my desire to become a teacher has only grown since. Thanks to the SDEF scholarship, I am one step closer. The scholarship funds provided will all go towards paying my tuition, and I plan to utilize all of the mentorship opportunities and provisions provided by the San Diego Education Fund. This past December, the SDEF Board of Directors hosted a holiday party for all SDEF scholars and alumni. Interacting with board members, scholars and alumni was interesting and I learned alot from their stories. I am extremely thankful to be part of this wonderful group.

- Amanda Huynh, Freshman at UCSD, majoring in Mathematics for Secondary Education