Stephanie Gonzalez Villanueva, Junet Lugo Felix, Steven Pendleton receive funding from Mustang Born foundation
Three students from Milwaukie High School’s Class of 2020 recently received $2,500 scholarships from a foundation that gets donations from MHS alumni.
Recipients included Stephanie Gonzalez Villanueva, who is attending the University of Oregon to pursue a double major in psychology and business with a minor in Spanish; Junet Lugo Felix, who is attending Western Oregon University to major in secondary education; and Steven Pendleton, who is attending Loyola University New Orleans to study musical theater and dance.
Kami Aguilar, board chair of the Mustang Born Alumni Scholarship Foundation, said she was again “completely overwhelmed” by the recent MHS graduates who applied for scholarships.
“They are creative, innovative and resilient while embracing the Mustang pride and school spirit that we alumni hold so dear,” she said. “We couldn’t be more proud. Kudos to the MHS/MAA staff and community for providing its students with the tools, support and resources necessary to become strong, independent citizens determined to make a positive contribution by passionately pursuing their college and career goals.”
For the fourth year, the Mustang Born Alumni Scholarship Foundation has awarded three $2,500 scholarships.
“We are ecstatic that we met that goal again this year,” Aguilar said. “Once we narrow it down to the top finalists for interviews, the final recipient selection process is heart-wrenching. Every year, we are motivated to increase fundraising efforts to provide more scholarship opportunities for our young Mustangs.”
Aguilar said the scholarship selection process begins with a thorough review by each board member evaluating each applicant’s community engagement, extracurricular activities, college and career goals, financial need and letters of recommendation.
“This review narrows down the applicants to create our top finalists,” she said. “The board, and at least one alumni volunteer, then interview each finalist. The foundation is really looking for students who embody what it means to be a Mustang: students who demonstrate active engagement and commitment to their Mustang family and the greater community as a whole and students who exhibit strength and resilience in the face of adversity.”
A completely volunteer-based 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, the scholarship foundation was founded six years ago and is currently seeking other alumni to help out at upcoming fundraising or by serving on the board. Foundation board members are looking at possible virtual fundraising options.
“Our two main fundraisers have been drastically impacted by COVID in more ways than one,” Aguilar said. “We usually host two vacation raffles a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. With travel being ill-advised at this time, we decided to wait until conditions improve before hosting another raffle. Our second fundraiser is the Milwaukie High School Holiday Bazaar. Again, due to COVID, we had to postpone until November 2021.”
Recognizing that times are tough financially for many in the community, the foundation is in the process of creating a promotion campaign to support MHS grads through Amazon Smile and Fred Meyer Community Rewards.
“This way, folks aren’t having to donate above and beyond their regular spending,” Aguilar said. “Even if we could get 50 more people to commit to using Amazon Smile and selecting the foundation as their recipient, we would be able to raise significant funds toward our scholarship fund. It’s easy to sign up for these … We also just created a Bottle Drop Give account so folks can opt to donate their cans to the foundation.”
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