Scholars commit to civic duty

Brennan Maclean

For more than 12 years the Price Scholarship Program has offered support to at-risk high school graduates and current City College students striving to get a college education.

Launched in 1997 with the help of generous donations from the Price Foundation, the mission is to provide students with an understanding of how to better the community in which they live by assigning them to various civic duties, and in turn, supporting their education with financial, academic, and mentorship assistance.

The program office is shared with the EOPS and CARE Programs located in the newly renovated L building in room L-119. The Price program was located in the financial aid office until recently. The new location is viewed as a big improvement.

“I love it. I love the window. I didn’t have one for six years in my old office. It gives me a view of the outside and all the students,” said Price Scholars Program Director Maria Elena Delgado. With a total of 57 student participants, called Price Scholars, she explained the group dynamic.

“People always ask me if I like my job. I say ‘no, I love my job.’ It’s like a labor of love. We’re family. We build that bond. If it wasn’t for this program these students wouldn’t be in college,” she said.

The program’s focus is to recruit disadvantaged, low-income and sometimes homeless students from schools like Garfield, Crawford, Gompers, Lincoln, Monarch, Morse, John Muir and San Diego High by giving them a unique opportunity to enroll in college.

Demetrius White an 18 year old foster child began his first semester at City College this summer with the help of Price Scholars.

“I wasn’t going to go to college. I had pretty bad grades in high school. Then I found out about Price. They told me that if I got my grades up, they would give me a scholarship. So, here I am,” he said.

The program awards $250,000 a year in scholarships. In return, the students commit to community service projects totaling 200 to 300 hours a year at places like Rosa Parks Elementary School, UCSD Medical Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Family Justice Center.

“It gave me an adult outlook when I started working. I started working at my old high school, San Diego High, in the office. I gained responsibility,” said Lawrence Bermudez, a 19 year old second-year scholar who is studying to be a dancer.

The Price Scholars students benefit from more than just work experience, job training and a college education. The whole program treks up to Julian every summer for a three day camping and hiking trip, where bonds between one another are solidified.

“I was so scared for the night hike,” Nilah “Niyonce” Andrade, a first year Scholar from Morris High School admitted. “Without Price, though, I wouldn’t have anybody. My mom doesn’t really care. If it weren’t for this program I wouldn’t have any friends.”

Clemente Ayala, Price Scholars administrative assistant, once a Price Scholar himself views the program as more than a job.

“This job is more important than money to me. I feel good to be able to help students out. To see them grow everyday is my paycheck,” he said.

Without an end in sight for Price Program funding due to scholarship monies being donated from the Price Foundation, City College students can begin submitting applications in December and high school students in January.