Meet Our Scholarship Recipients!

Diego Higuera is a journalism major and hopes to transfer to SDSU or UCLA.  He has faced homelessness his entire life.  Our scholarship will help him pay for school and basic necessities.  He is a journalist on the award-winning SWC “Sun” college newspaper. So far, Diego has received the 2022 California College Media Awards, First Place, Best Non-Breaking News Story; California College Media Awards, First Place, Best Feature Story; California College Media Awards, First Place, Best Social Justice Coverage; and the 2022 Journalism Association of Community Colleges, Second Place, News Story, for his work with the Sun.  Diego has “dedicated much of [his] time to the Sun and the LGBTQIA community, whether it was writing about the community or hosting events to help those who needed stress relief.”  Diego acknowledges that he’s had to work harder as he’s never had it easy, but, he says, “that’s life, that’s just how things are.”  When I spoke with Diego, he explained that he works 50 hours a week, is taking 15 units (last semester he took 19), and works additional hours as a reporter for the Sun.

As a member of the Democratic Party, Diego is active and vocal by going to speeches, rallies, and most importantly, educating himself to understand what a candidate stands for and what that candidate supports in order to “know the person I’m supporting is without a doubt someone I can entrust with a position of power.” He believes that it’s important to distinguish stereotypes from reality and misguided political views through investigation and discussion with those who think differently. Diego says the main issue our party needs to address is housing because people should not have to choose between feeding themselves or having a roof over their head. 

He closed his personal statement with, “If I had to make one guarantee about these scholarships, it’s that they will not be wasted on someone like me,  because I guarantee you I’m going to do great things with what I have learned from Southwestern Community College.”

Aiden Benjamin Chen Vazquez has overcome much.  He became homeless for much of his time at SWC after coming out as queer to his family.  Despite being expelled from my religious community, struggling with chronic illness and disabilities, and navigating my gender transition, I have persevered and am now transferring to North Seattle College’s Computer Science B.S. program in September.”  His goal is to earn a Master’s Degree and work as a software engineer.  As a Hispanic first generation student at SWC, Aiden has been active in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).  He explains that, “Despite these obstacles, I have remained active in the SWC community as a member of SHPE, where I served as their marketing director. I have also maintained a position on the President’s or Vice President’s Honor List since 2020 . . . .”

As a Democrat, Aiden sees involvement in the political process as critical.  He had the opportunity to meet with legislators to advocate for student issues like affordable textbooks and financial aid. He believes “that change can only happen when people take action, by staying informed and actively participating in the political process . . . .”  He attends rallies and marches to show his support for important issues such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change. In addition, Aiden states, “I also regularly reach out to my elected representatives to express my opinions on legislation and policy decisions.” He considers himself a Democrat because of aligned values with the Party’s stand on equal rights, support for LBGTQ+, abortion, access to health care, housing, and jobs.  He states that, “The Democratic Party should take a strong stance against…discriminatory laws and support the right for transgender individuals to self-identify. This includes advocating for the passage of the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. It also involves pushing back against the rhetoric and misinformation being spread about transgender people, and…centering their experiences and voices in policy discussions.”

Aiden closed his personal statement with, “I am eager to continue my academic journey and am confident that a scholarship will provide the financial support I need to achieve my goals. I am grateful for the opportunity to apply and am excited to see where my education will take me. I hope that the scholarship committee will see the sacrifices I have made and recognize my commitment, and award me with scholarships that will help me to fulfill my dreams.”

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