Tsang sponsors scholarship

Richard Jimenez has gone from a high school dropout to a undergraduate student at a top university in just a few years. “I never got to attend high school because my father pulled me out of school," said Jimenez. "I grew up, you know, working construction and hard manual labor."

A notice about a $30,000 scholarship sponsored by Chui L. Tsang, president and superintendent of Santa Monica College, was sent out to faculty, staff and administrators at the end of spring semester asking for nominations for students they thought would be the best candidates to receive the scholarship.

Wendi DeMorst, program director of TRiO Student Support Services, a program that aids students who want to transfer to a university with an associate degree, was quick to nominate Jimenez, who she worked with through the program.

“I went to college without any high school education," he said. "I used to study hard and do my best, and I got to excel in my classes. I came over a lot in my life to be here in this moment.”

Jimenez is now studying psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He said he hopes to help other people and families who have difficult times in life like himself.

DeMorst and Jimenez got to know each other while working on his transfer papers. He was not only working at TRiO, but also was always actively participating in all the possible activities and field trips offered by the program.

“That kind of started the conversation about his life, what he had gone through, and him being able to actually go to Berkeley, as he has such an amazing story,” she said.

Jimenez attended SMC for a little over three years.

DeMorst, along with the other professors that nominated students, had to write 1,000 words on why their nominee deserved the scholarship. Students had to have at least a 3.0 GPA and a minimum of 24 transferable units, in addition to all of their transfer requirements completed by the end of spring semester of this year.

After being nominated, students went through an interview process before being selected.

“Focus on your goals," Jimenez said. "Nothing is going to be easy. Take big steps toward your goal. Every step you take, every day is just one step closer toward reaching your goal. Be positive."