A $50,000 scholarship was presented last month to 30 students and their families by Edison International. The Edison Scholars class of 2023 consists of deserving students who live across Southern California Edison’s service area. Organizers of the Edison Scholars Program say that students are recognized as the dreamers, innovators, guardians and pioneers of tomorrow.
Edison International is the parent company of SCE, which is one of the largest corporate philanthropic contributors in Southern California. The Edison Scholars Program is funded by Edison International shareholders. SCE customers’ utility bill payments do not fund company donations.
Edison International has awarded more than $15 million in scholarships to 760 students through the Edison Scholars program since 2006. Once students become part of the scholar program, they also become part of the Edison network where they’ll be able to connect with ambitious, talented students and alumni.
Photo Credit – Diane Castro
In addition to the scholarship, all Edison Scholarship recipients are eligible for a paid summer internship with Southern California Edison upon completing their first year of school.
Diane Castro, Edison International spokesperson, said that students are provided with financial support through the scholarship program, which allows them to attend colleges and universities that they may have thought would be out of their reach financially. She also said that it allows them to focus on their studies rather than worry about how they’re going to pay for school.
“We know that college is expensive, and many of our brightest students need financial help to get their college degree. Every year, 30 outstanding students who live in our service area each received a $40,000 scholarship to help further their education in the STEM fields. This year, we increased the scholarship amount to $50,000,” Castro said.
Pedro J. Pizarro, President and CEO of Edison International, stated on the Edison website that one of his favorite things about his job is the Edison Scholars Program. “These students are the changemakers of tomorrow. They have big dreams to make a positive impact on our world and be a part of the clean energy future.”
Officials from Edison International say that the utility company is currently working on the transition to a clean energy future, so they need the best minds in the STEM fields to help them.
“We need people with big ideas,” Castro said. “The skills to turn them into real-world solutions, and the passion and commitment to implement and execute those ideas. That’s where our Edison Scholars come in.”
“The Edison Scholars program [strives to recognize] students from underserved communities and a variety of backgrounds. We embrace the value of diversity and the innovative ideas that can be generated with a team of different experiences and cultures,” Castro said.
Edison is passionate about increasing opportunities in populations that have historically been underrepresented in STEM careers by funding programs, like Edison Scholars, that bring STEM education and vocational training to educationally underserved communities.
The number of Latino students attending and graduating from college, as well as the number of Latinos earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields, has increased from 8% in 2010 to 12% in 2018, according to Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education data”. Even though there’s been a slight increase, Latino students still remain underrepresented in STEM degree programs, relative to all college graduates.
“We’re hoping to inspire a new generation of diverse talent to pursue STEM careers and to make a difference in clean energy and, indeed, in the world, while providing opportunities to our local youth and young adults.” Castro said.
She also said that the Edison Scholars program works for students from a variety of backgrounds and embracing the value of diversity and the innovative ideas that can be generated with a team of different experiences and cultures.
Antonio Camarillo, Arlene Garcia, Aimee Perales and David Ceballos are all part of the Edison 2023 Scholars program.
Avalon High School student, Arlene Cazares Garcia, of Catalina Island was one of 30 Edison Scholars surprised last month. Garcia will be the first in her family to attend college. She intends to research powerful plastic-eating enzymes that decompose plastic products without using petrochemicals.
“I know our financial situation, so this scholarship means so much because without it, I couldn’t have gone to UCLA or any other university. I know how much debt can hurt a person, and I personally would not want to be in debt even if that meant not going to college,” Garcia said. “This scholarship has helped me go to one of the best schools in the nation and has taken a lot of relief off my shoulders not just for me but for my family too.”
In 2021, Garcia’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Garcia said that her father always encouraged her to prioritize education. Even after her dad passed away, she maintained a 4.0 GPA during her toughest times because of the strength and encouragement her dad gave her. Once Garcia is done pursuing her dream career, she plans to return to Catalina Island to become a teacher or an engineer working on providing sustainable energy for the island.
Aimee Perales, a senior at James A. Garfield High School located in East LA, is also another scholar who was awarded with an Edison scholarship. Perales is a first generation student and the second sibling to head to college. She is looking forward to studying chemistry and focusing on reducing beach and ocean pollution. She has noticed a considerable increase in microplastics and trash within the sand.
She hopes pursuing a career in chemistry will allow her to combat this issue by creating filtration systems using renewable energy to remove the microplastics embedded within the sand. Perales also plans to offer mentorship to inspire students within her community to pursue their goals and make positive changes in the world. Perales recently confirmed that she will be attending Yale University, as it offers the best education and programs for her career interest.
“My family has been my biggest support system,” Perales said. “Every morning, my mom comes into my room and says, ‘echale ganas, mija.”
In addition to supporting STEM scholars financially and with professional networking opportunities, Edison continues to support them in other ways as well. Edison encourages all scholars to apply to be a summer intern. Internships are paid and interns are provided with the opportunity to learn about the company’s work towards a clean energy future.
Joshua Alvarado from South Gate High School, CA was awarded $50,000 to attend the college of his dreams.
Castro said that Edison International sends a biannual newsletter with company information, to schools, students and community members, which includes jobs and internships, and have invited scholars to participate in company-sponsored events, like conferences and speaking engagements.
The application period for the 2024 Edison Scholarship program is slated to open this Fall. Applicants must live in Southern California Edison’s service area. Eligible students also must have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. Students from underserved communities and first-generation college students are encouraged to apply. If interested in applying for this scholarship, visit edisonscholars.com.
Edison International is also partnering with colleges and universities to provide funding and scholarships to students historically underrepresented in STEM careers, including women, Latinx and first-generation college students. “Our goal is to level the playing field and create opportunities through the power of STEM education,” Castro said.