Hard work pays off for seniors

After four years of hard work, seniors are leaving high school behind and heading to a univerity. Around 75% students will apply and get into their top choice school, but can not afford to attend. There is a simple solution for a problem like this: scholarships. While some are easier to get than others, they all start with a simple application.


Justin Kawaguchi- USC

As Justin Kawaguchi sat in his Physics class, he got a notification that changed his life. Looking down, he saw that he was a finalist and winner of the Coca-Cola scholarship, which pays for $20,000 of his tuition.

“Actually funny story,” Kawaguchi explained, “I applied to the scholarship the day it was due, like the first round. The first thing on that questionnaire were your grades, classes, extracurriculars, just listing things. And then from that they’ll choose the 19,000 semi finalists who will do an essay and interview.”

Kawaguchi proved that it is never too late to apply for a scholarship, but he took a different approach than most in his application processes. While many students try to write in a more genuine and proper format, Kawaguchi “showed his real writer’s voice” by writing in a more conversational form.

“One thing I learned,” Kawaguchi explained, “is that all these applications, like scholarships and college admissions, they don’t look for numbers. They look for genuine personalities and that’s something I have definitely learned from the Coca-Cola scholarship.”


Odysseus Pyrinis- UC Berkeley

Odysseus Pyrinis, senior, walked into his Spanish class believing it was just a regular day in the life of a full IB student. Little did he know that he was about to achieve one of his biggest goals.

He found out that he he had received the scholarship when Cooke Foundation workers came into his classroom and put up the facade that they were videotaping his class to share with the district. About 15 minutes into the class, they told him he had gotten the scholarship. “I was in shock for a couple of days,” he said.

“I received the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship. What it entails is $40,000 maximum for four years, all I do is send them the bill, from whatever university I attend, and they’ll take care of it. Of course I have to maintain grades and show them that I’m doing well at the university,” Pyrinis said.

He continued to emphasize the importance of maintaining good grades and having good extracurriculars as he spoke about what was required to obtain the Cook Scholarship.

“When you find those things you are truly passionate about, where you truly belong, that’s where you focus on to grow and get better, and that’s what foundations look for when handing scholarships out,” Pyrinis said.


Rayna Kanapuram- UC Berkeley

As she waited anxiously to hear her name called, Rayna Kanapuram sat in the crowd with her fellow finalists for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Scholarship. Not expecting to win, she wanted to go home and celebrate her birthday with her family and enjoy her day, yet her whole life changed as the speaker announced Kanapuram as a winner of the scholarship.

The scholarship Kanapuram received is sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and goes out to high school seniors who demonstrate true leadership, community service and academic excellence. It will contribute $7,000 of her tuition at UC Berkeley.

“College is just the first step. The person that you become post-grad is intrinsically linked with one’s college experiences. I wouldn’t want to trade my personhood for a scholarship or name,” Kanapuram said.

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