News - 04/21/2014

MiraCosta College Awards $254,000 in Scholarships

After overcoming numerous challenges during a troubled childhood, Maria Aguilar left her foster parents behind in Arizona to live with a sister in Oceanside when she was 17. A graduate of El Camino High School, Aguilar was accepted into UCLA but couldn’t afford to go.

Instead, she enrolled at MiraCosta College, where she will graduate next year thanks in large part to the more than $3,000 in scholarships she has secured.

“I’m so grateful,” Aguilar said. “I don’t have a family that can help me out financially, so the scholarships have been vital.”

Antoine Stevens-Phillips had a similar experience. He was settling into a career as a political consultant when he enrolled at MiraCosta College on the advice of an uncle. Scholarships have helped him afford to focus on his studies.

“The scholarships have helped me first by allowing me to work fewer hours and focus more on school, my studies and my homework, and do better academically,” Stevens-Phillips said. “Second, anytime I received a scholarship, it has enabled me to help my family back home in Detroit a little more.”

Aguilar and Stevens-Phillips are but two of the 279 students who will be presented with grants totaling $254,000 on May 16 at MiraCosta College’s Annual Scholarship Award Ceremony at the Concert Hall on the Oceanside Campus. Five are recipients of the MiraCosta College Medal of Honor, the college’s highest academic award. An additional 82 students will be honored as Osher Scholars and will receive endowed renewable scholarships established through a fundraising challenge by the Osher Foundation. In addition, four students will be named Winski Scholars and will receive endowed renewable scholarships as high achieving students.

The festivities, during which scholarship funders will meet those who are benefitting from their gifts, is sponsored by Balfour Beatty Construction, Blue Coast Consulting, Harris & Associates, and Burkett & Wong Engineers. MiraCosta College is planning back-to-back ceremonies with event emcees Dr. Dick Robertson, vice president of student services who will soon be taking over as interim college president/superintendent; and Ken Noonan, president of the MiraCosta College Foundation.

Aguilar, 20, and Stevens-Phillips, 27, are typical of the scholars being honored.

A science major with plans to become an obstetrician, Aguilar is aiming to transfer to UC San Diego upon earning her associate in arts degree in May of 2015. She has her sights set on medical school and becoming an obstetrician.

“Coming to MiraCosta College was the best thing that happened to me,” Aguilar said. “It has such a supportive atmosphere. I’ve been able to build a strong network here of family, friends and mentors.”

Aguilar not only has capitalized on the programs MiraCosta College offers its students, she also has given back. She is employed as a student ambassador and also works in the EOPS former foster youth program.   She said the scholarships she has earned have been critical for her education, helping her pay for books and living expenses. 

To say that Stevens-Phillips has been a success at MiraCosta College would be an understatement. He has a 3.9 grade point average, is deeply involved in the Honors Scholars Program, belongs to the Phi Theta Kappa Society, serves as a consultant in the Writing Center at the Oceanside Campus, is vice president of legislative affairs for the Associated Student Government, and was just elected as the college’s 2014-2015 student trustee.

“Being at MiraCosta College has been an amazing experience and will play an instrumental role in helping me reach my goals,” said the Detroit native, who is the first in his family to go to college and eventually plans on enrolling in law school. “There are so many resources here and so many people willing to help.”

To arrange an interview with a student, contact Cheryl Broom at 760.795.6612.

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