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 Multilingual Graduates Recognized with Bea Gonzales Scholarships

Sixteen San Diego County multilingual high school graduates with stellar academic achievement and tremendous aspirations were awarded the Bea Gonzales Biliteracy Scholarship last month. 

One, the first in her family to attend college in the United States, plans to obtain a Bachelor's degree in both Global Health and Neuroscience and enroll in an MD/Ph.D. program to perform research and specialize in pediatrics. Another will study business economics at University of California, Los Angeles. Yet another will major in Human Biology and Society, hoping to become a neurosurgeon who helps cure brain cancer through brain stem-cell reproduction.

These students — along with their fellow Bea Gonzales Scholars from across the region — will be able to practice their future professions in English, Spanish, and in one case, Arabic.

Each of these high-achieving students were recognized with a $1,000 Bea Gonzales Biliteracy Scholarship by demonstrating their academic merit and crafting essays about their career goals. The scholarship, which is named in honor of a multilingual advocate and former San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) employee, is open to students countywide who obtain the Seal of Biliteracy from their school and district.

"Being biliterate and multilingual can be a powerful asset for learning and for life," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. "It is an honor to recognize these young people, who have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of excellence."

The 2020 scholarship awardees are:

  • Arleth Lozada, San Marcos High School
  • Alina Marisa Pinto, Mission Hills High School
  • Maria Theresa Bessie, Hilltop High School
  • Sofia Luna, Otay Ranch High School
  • Maritza Juarez, Chula Vista Learning Community Charter High School
  • William Park, Scripps Ranch High School
  • Carolina Castro, Chula Vista High School
  • Maximiliano Akerlundh, Chula Vista High School
  • Emilio Arturo Ocampo, San Marcos High School
  • Albert Macias, Southwest High School
  • Karla A Padilla Leon, Olympian High School
  • Sarah Vahram Setrag, Valhalla High School
  • Sinai Reyes, Mission Hills High School
  • Paloma Lopez, San Ysidro High School
  • Mariana Perezchica, Castle Park High School

Like the students themselves, the scholarship namesake, Bea Gonzales, had her own dream. Bea worked for quality education for bilingual students that has inspired several generations of educators. She began by serving children directly as a 2nd-grade teacher in South Bay Unified School District. She later supported teachers as a district bilingual coordinator and as director of the Bilingual Teacher Training Program at SDCOE. During her tenure at SDCOE, she prepared and coordinated professional development for teachers of students who are English learners. Now her legacy continues through the efforts of educators who voluntarily raise funds for the students every year for more than a decade.

For more information or learn how to volunteer to be part of the Bea Gonzales Biliteracy Scholarship, email