Local Graduates Receive Scholarship Awards


Hemet Education Foundation

Local Graduates Receive Scholarship Awards

Sue Breyer | Hemet Education Foundation Co-President

The Hemet Education Foundation (HEF) awarded $5000 scholarships to graduating seniors at each of the five comprehensive high schools in the Hemet Unified School District at recent senior awards ceremonies. Scholarship recipients were Emma Lenton, West Valley High School; Thomas Mainhart, Western Center Academy; Shanel Vandoorn, Tahquitz High School; Jace Baca, Hemet High School; and Josh Montiel, Hamilton High School. Ericarmen Portillo, a recent graduate of Hemet’s Academy of Innovation alternative school received a $500 scholarship from the Hemet Education Foundation.

After an online search in 6th grade for careers that involved skin care, West Valley High School senior Emma Lenton was drawn to the field of dermatology. “I’d always loved makeup, and that transformed into an interest in skincare and aesthetics. I love biology as well, and ultimately, I decided that dermatology seemed like the perfect job for me. It would be intellectually challenging but also fit right in with all of my interests,” she explains. Lenton hopes to attend U.C. San Diego and get a bachelor’s degree in biology before going to medical school to become a board-certified dermatologist. Lenton says that her life has not been easy, but she’s excited to see where her determination takes her.

Thomas Mainhart, a senior at the Western Center Academy, will be the first person in his family to attend a 4 year college, something his parents had only dreamed of for him. “I was taught that family came before everything else,” Mainhart explains. “My family has been one of the biggest influences of my life. They have helped build who I am.” But it was a unit on the American Revolution in fifth grade that peaked Mainhart’s interest in history. It became almost an obsession – he voraciously read any history books he could find and watched documentaries in his spare time. That enthusiasm has continued throughout his high school career. Mainhart plans to attend Cal State San Marcos, major in history, and eventually teach at the middle school or high school level.

As a young child, watching her own family’s dynamics, Tahquitz High School senior Shanel Vandoorn knew she wanted to become a psychologist. “I’ve always wanted to learn about the human brain and figure out why people show emotions the way they do and why they think differently and react differently,” Vandoorn explains. “Some may act out while others may keep it all inside.“ After high school, Vandoorn hopes to attend the University of San Diego and major in Psychology. She says, “If I set my mind on something, I will go out of my way to accomplish that task.”

Jace Baca of Hemet High School believes we all have a choice in life: Do what’s hard and live an easy life, or do what’s easy and live a hard life. He says, “This idea has had a lasting impact on my life and prompted me to work hard at what I did.” Baca has considered many future careers, such as journalism, public speaking, psychology, and counseling, and what he has come to notice is that all these future professions share a common attribute – the desire to educate others. Baca’s goal is to attend either UC San Diego or Cal State University San Marcos with a major in linguistics and/or psychology and eventually become a school teacher or counselor.

Josh Montiel has spent the past year as Hamilton High School’s ASB President motivating others. It’s in his blood. Hamilton ASB teacher Diana Welty-Guerrero says, “Josh goes above and beyond and has been an integral part of planning and executing all of the ASB activities this year.” Math teacher Dr. Julie Cope agrees and adds, “Josh Montiel has given so much of his life to Hamilton High. In all my years here, I believe that Josh is the most deserving of any recognition he receives.” Montiel’s college plans include earning a bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s degree in psychology or school counseling at Cal State Monterey Bay or Cal State San Marcos. “I want to guide kids and young adults in that transition from being in high school to going into college and eventually the ‘real world’.”

Ericarmen Portillo, a senior at Hemet’s Academy of Innovation, struggled with personal hardships during her 9th-11th grade school years, and her grades suffered. But she knew she wanted a high school diploma, so she enrolled in summer school and took on eight classes in her senior year to get caught up. Unforeseen medical issues threatened to derail her plans, however, but she didn’t quit. She was able to work through and go into her final semester on track for graduation. “Portillo has confidently expressed her determination to get where she is going,” her counselor Ms. Andrea Newborn says. Portillo will attend MSJC in the fall, then she plans to transfer to UC San Diego to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology. From there she has goals of getting into veterinary school and becoming a veterinarian.

The Hemet Education Foundation has been supporting students, programs and school sites in the Hemet Unified School District since 1978. For each of the past nine years, the Foundation has awarded a $5000 scholarship to a qualifying senior at each of the five comprehensive high schools in the district and a $500 scholarship to a qualifying senior at each of the two alternative schools. The Foundation has also donated funds to the District music, track and field and cross country programs as well as financial support to individual school sites for targeted needs. For more information on the Hemet Education Foundation, visit their website at www.hemeteducationfoundation.com or email the organization at [email protected].

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