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 Fair Foundation Rewards High School Scholars

A dozen outstanding San Diego County high school seniors are set to embark on their college careers with a financial boost thanks to the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation.

The foundation is awarding $40,500 in scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 this school year to 12 students possessing a wide range of talents, skills and interests, Don Diego foundation Chair Jon Liss said.

"The Don Diego scholars share key traits. They are without a doubt among the most authentic, idealistic, dedicated, intelligent, ambitious, and selfless young adults in our area," Liss said. "We are confident that each will attain success, give back to their community, and help build a better San Diego and a better world."

Among the recipients are future agricultural educators and entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, physicians, and more.

The Don Diego scholarship program is open to all San Diego County high school seniors who participate in the San Diego County Fair or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It has grown since 1986, when it began by awarding $1,000 scholarships to three students.

"It's amazing how far we've come over the past three decades and how far our past scholarship recipients have gone," Liss said. "We're certain that our Class of 2016 will continue this rich tradition."

Recipients of $5,000 scholarships are:

  • Yessica Vargas of Vista High School was awarded $10,000 from the foundation: a $5,000 FFA Scholarship and a special $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship. Yessica will attend Cal State San Marcos, and her goal is to earn a teaching credential and a master's degree in agriculture business.
  • Carney Jo Flinn of Ramona High School received a Don Diego 4H Scholarship. Carney is will study physical sciences at UCLA.
  • Ryan Berardelli, a San Diego home-school student, earned an Exhibitor Scholarship. Ryan will attend California Baptist University and pursue a careers as a mechanical engineer to discover "new ways to increase the quality of life around the world."
  • Sofia Davis of Torrey Pines High School was awarded an Employee Scholarship. Sofia is headed to UC San Diego to study global health and plans to become a pediatrician.

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Recipients of $2,500 scholarships are:

  • Ray Rapue of Julian High, FFA Scholarship, will study agriculture education at Reedley College.
  • Samuel "Bubba" Sugarman, an Encinitas home-school student, 4H Scholarship, will study Engineering/Aeronautics at Principia College. He also has received a U.S. Congressional Award for Public Service.
  • Helen Jin of Westview High, Exhibitor Scholarship, will study economics at the University of Southern California, where she will be a USC Presidential Scholar.
  • Amy Gload of San Marcos High School, will be a pre-med major at Michigan State University.
  • Sarah Uribe of Serra High School, Employee Scholarship, will study art at SDSU.

Recipients of $1,000 scholarships are:

  • Taryn Sehnert of Fallbrook High School, FFA Scholarship, will study horticulture at MiraCosta College.
  • Sophia Mock of San Dieguito Academy, 4H Scholarship, will study chemistry at UC Santa Barbara.
  • Courtney Ouellette of San Marcos High School, Exhibitor Scholarship, will study political science and communications Cal State San Marcos.

Scholarship recipients will be recognized June 30 at the foundation's Don Diego Gala at the San Diego County Fairgrounds' Turf Club. Tickets are available now, and include all-day preferred parking, hosted cocktails, gourmet dinner, silent auction, and an opportunity to meet the recipients. The gala includes special seating for a Brian Wilson concert, "Pet Sounds: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary," with special guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Tom Hernandez, known as Don Diego, who served as the Del Mar Fair's goodwill ambassador from 1947 to 1984. The foundation has awarded about $797,000 in agriculture education grants and scholarships to 177 students since 1986.