top of page

2023 Scholarship Recipients


2023 Central Valley Scholars Scholarship Recipients

Please join us in celebrating our 2023 scholarship recipients! This year we awarded 15 students with scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. Scholarships awarded include the following:

  • First-Generation Scholarship

  • Undocumented Scholarship

  • LGBTQIA+ Scholarship

  • Woman of Color Scholarship

  • Student Parent Scholarship

  • Student with Disabilities Scholarship

  • Black Student Scholarship

  • Justice Impacted Scholarship

Our applications encourage students to reflect about their marginalized identities in a way that doesn’t center their trauma or require them to internalize their oppression.


In our applications, students are requested to reflect on identity, share vulnerability, and discover the high level of intelligence that has emerged from their experiences. A numerous amount of students shared feeling empowered after submission of their applications.


Students, especially students who are oppressed, have been required to exploit their traumas by many educational institutions in order to make themselves more appealing candidates for admission. With our scholarship curriculum, students are able to take the lessons from their traumas, and center their experiences from a lens of power and strength.


To learn more about this year's scholarship mission, please click here.


Meet The Recipients


Join us in celebrating our scholarship recipients!


Not only are our recipients incredibly smart, resilient, and powerful, but their experiences and stories share an important message. They share the intersectional adversities that students with their identities face on their journeys to higher education, and they give insight to the necessary transformations in our current reality in order to create a world in which education is accessible to all.


We are so proud of all they’ve accomplished thus far, and are honored to support their academic dreams with these scholarships.


In efforts of centering student voices, we asked each student for quotes on the the following questions, "What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?" and "What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?". Their quoted responses are below.


Yuliana Alcantar Ceballos | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Yuliana Alcantar Ceballos (She/Her/Ella)
Undocumented Student Scholarship

Yuliana is a student at Porterville College studying business administration. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"I am very grateful and honored to receive this scholarship. It is reassuring to know that I am in the correct path and that pursuing my education was the right decision. With this scholarship I will continue support my education and show my kids that anything is possible."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"I would like others to know that it is never to late to have dreams. It is never to late to start over and because we can't change the past but we sure can work hard for a brighter future and the only thing holding us back is ourselves."

Guadalupe Gamboa | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Guadalupe Gamboa (He/Him)
First-Generation Scholarship

Guadalupe is a student at Bakersfield College studying early childhood education with intentions of becoming a preschool teacher. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"With receiving this scholarship it will help me a lot with my financial situations. I am very happy that I am receiving this scholarship because this is the first one that I have ever got. It is an honor and I am very appreciative."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"That I am currently in the process in becoming a teacher. Next semester I will be transferring from Bakersfield College to California State of Bakersfield."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I would like to share that I am very appreciative for this scholarship. I just turned 21 and have been attending college as soon as I graduated."

Mustafa Mitchell | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Mustafa Mitchell (He/Him)
Student Parent Scholarship

Mustafa is a student at Fresno City College studying nursing. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"I am speechless. This scholarship came at exactly the moment I needed it. Now I can buy my son's back to school clothes and materials for the school year that I need due to his disability. This means that my hard work did not fall on deaf ears but just really far ones. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Hard work does really pay off and you just have to apply yourself to what you committed too and see it through."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"No dream is unreachable. There is no mountain that will ever be high enough that you can not climb. "


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I want to say thank you to my sexi beautiful wife Crystal and my children. Everything I do is for you four. I want to show you that hard work pays off and to never give up. You have been my motivation since day one and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after 10 long years. Thank you god for always making me so patient and humble for everything and anything that I have earned or received. Most importantly I want to say thank you to the team at Central Valley Scholars for giving me and my family this opportunity."


Brittny Hayes | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Brittny Hayes (She/Her)
Black Student & Student Parent Scholarship

Brittny is a student at CSU Stanislaus studying psychology with intentions of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"I am honored to have received both the Black Student and Student Parent Scholarship(s). Receiving these scholarships feels like a sign for me to keep chasing my dreams. It means the world to me to feel seen and supported as a Black Woman and as a Student Parent."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"I feel that it is important for others to know that 'you are not what you come from'. The challenges that you've had to overcome may have helped shape who you are today, however they do not define you. As a Black Woman and as a Mother, I move forward with honor and grace - to show others like me that you can achieve anything regardless of where or what you've come from."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I would like to sincerely thank Central Valley Scholars for this amazing opportunity. I would also like to thank Central Valley Scholars for providing a space for people like me to feel seen, feel heard and find support on our journey to higher education. This has truly been a beautiful experience."


Flor Maria Torres Prenger | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Flor Maria Torres Prenger (She/Her)
Woman of Color Scholarship

Flor is a student at San Joaquin Delta College studying business. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"This scholarship means much more to me than financial stability. This means there is someone out there who believes in my goals as much as I do, this means hope in a better future for my wife and I, and most importantly this means I'm a percentage closer to really achieving not just my goals but our dreams."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"To all lower class students who don't think they can do it, or who think it's too late to try, or are scared of not being able to afford it, I promise it's never too late and you are more than deserving of your shot at your dreams! Don't give up."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I want to thank Central Valley Scholars for choosing me. I'm eternally and forever grateful. This means so much to me in thousands of ways but most importantly thank you for giving all of us a chance."


Jacq Tate | 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Jacq Tate (They/Them)
LGBTQIA2+ Scholarship

Jacq is a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas studying public health. Their quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"Receiving this scholarship means that people believe in my ability to succeed and obtain my degree. I graduated high school in 2013 and I always thought that I would get my degree and start my life, but experiencing homelessness and health issues made that difficult. It felt good to know that this scholarship didn't need references or GPA requirement because that would have discouraged me from applying if I had to rely on others to prove my worth. I am so grateful to have made this new connection with Central Valley Scholars and know that I have outside support now for me to complete my degree."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"Living as a Two Spirit transmasculine person is one of the most beautiful and powerful things about my existence. I love being able to make meaningful connections within my LGBTQIA2+ community as well as serve as an advocate for better housing, mental health, harm reduction, and understanding for the LGBTQIA2+ community and more specifically, the transgender community. This scholarship fuels my desire to help lower barriers for my community to access higher education through grants and scholarships so people can succeed and thrive."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet Cristina and be told that I received this scholarship. I am so excited to share with Central Valley Scholars the work I am doing for my LGBTQIA2+ community and how this scholarships helps me keep a roof over my head for another month and help allow me to focus on doing well in school."


Aj Paz - 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Aj Paz (He/Him)
Justice Impacted Scholarship

Aj is a student at the Fresno City College. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"It means a lot to me and will really help me with being able to get from and to school everyday."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"We are all people our cultures and life's we live don't take away that we are still human and should be treated as one."


Maria del Rocio Pizano - 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Maria del Rocio Pizano (She/Her)
Student with Disabilities Scholarship

Maria is a student at the College of the Sequoias majoring in Spanish with intentions of becoming a teacher. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"Receiving this scholarship means the opportunity to continue my educational goals. Also, it opens a door in my pursuit to becoming successful in life and continuing my career. I would like to work in a school, but this is only obtainable with an education. This scholarship is a great support that motivates me to do my best effort not only at school but in my life too. Finally, receiving this scholarship let me show my sons that there are a lot of opportunities in life and that disabilities are not a limitation. Disabilities are not barriers that prohibit you from contributing or being productive to the United States society."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"My identity is that I am a Mexican woman that came to this country undocumented, and I had a bad experience of domestic violence for 10 years. Family Services helped me because I had no family in the state of California. I started a new life, learning a new language, knowing new cities. My three sons have been my motivation. Thank you for the help, I am okay now. Today, I am at the College of the Sequoias to get an education and an objective to transfer to Fresno State. I have three semesters left to complete an Associated in Spanish, and a Spanish Interpreter certificate. Thank you to the Central Valley Scholars to give me the opportunity to be a Disabilities Scholarship recipient. With this scholarship, I ensure to continue my education."


Is there anything else you would like to share?


"I am glad to be selected as a scholarship recipient. It is part of my dream too. Thank you to all the staff who made possible this scholarship. This scholarship is helpful, and a relief to my economic situation. I feel blessed, and I hope that in the same way, you help me, God helps you too."


Shawn Kennedy - 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Shawn Kennedy (He/Him)
Black Student Scholarship

Shawn is a student at the Fresno City College studying business with intentions of becoming a business owner. His quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"For me, receiving this scholarship means more than simply getting money; it also signifies that I am seen as having promise for our society's future. I will always have people to thank for my successes and I am very grateful for the kind financial aid that has been provided to me so that I can further pursue my education."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"There are many obstacles I have faced in life such as being a black male, being adopted by a gay interracial couple, and growing up without a maternal figure; despite these social challenges I have grown strengths such as persistence, resilience, leadership skills, and many more. Part of my identity stems from the ability to learn from adversities that I have faced growing up and turn them into something positive while learning from them."


Aliyah George - 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Aliyah George (She/Her)
Woman of Color Scholarship

Aliyah is a student at the UC Merced studying sociology with intentions of becoming a social worker. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"To me, this scholarship means that there is support for the educational achievement of women of color the Valley. I thank Central Valley Scholars so much for their generous investments into the futures of the many underrepresented students in the Central Valley."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"When multiple parts of your identity are underrepresented, it's important to realize that you'll be entering a race at a further starting point than other people. I grew up in a low-income household and I was raised by a single mother. I am Black, Woman and a First Generation college student. We have no control over how we've grown up, or who we were born to be. But we have all control over who we want to be, and taking the necessary steps to becoming that person. Your journey will be tough, but you can and will make it to the finish line."


Jimena - 2023 Scholarship Recipient
Jimena Damián Casillas (She/Her)
Undocumented Student Scholarship

Jimena is a student at Sacramento State University. Her quotes to the questions are as follows:


What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?


"I feel an amazing sense of appreciation for receiving a scholarship to further my study. Being chosen among so many deserving people is an enormous honor. This scholarship serves as both financial support and a reminder of the respect that my efforts and commitment have earned. With this chance, a universe of opportunities opens up before me, allowing me to go after my goals and dreams. I am touched by the weight of this generosity, which serves as a reminder of the value of tenacity and of the confidence others place in me. I really appreciate this scholarship and intend to take full advantage of it."


What is something related to your identities and lived experiences that is important for others to know?


"Knowing that my parents cannot fully support me financially, receiving a scholarship as an undocumented student is a priceless blessing that makes me feel incredibly grateful. This scholarship not only makes managing the difficulties of my legal status easier, but it also give me confidence that I can pursue my dreams of going to college. This scholarship's financial assistance enables me to take advantage of educational opportunities that would otherwise be out of my price range."


2023 Central Valley Scholars Scholarship Recipients

In respect of our students privacy, our additional scholarship recipients will not be highlighted on our public channels.


Thank You To All Who Applied


While funding capacity didn’t allow us to select more equally important and deserving students into our scholarship program, we are extremely thankful to all who shared their experiences, growth, and lessons; we learned so much from you. And we sincerely thank all of our applicants for serving as living embodiments of Central Valley scholars.


Support Our Scholarship Program


To learn more about our scholarship mission, please click here. To support our scholarship fund, please click here. For additional questions regarding this article or Central Valley Scholars more generally, please contact us.

174 views

Comments


bottom of page