Hartnell Students Awarded Scholarships from Coast Hills Federal Credit Union

Publish Date: 
Jun 22, 2017

On Sunday, June 11, 2017, Michele and I attended the Coast Hills Federal Credit Union “Gold Standard” Scholarship Luncheon. The event was held at the Cliffs Resort at Shell Beach. Coast Hills provides $2,500 scholarships for two students at each of the community colleges on the Central Coast. It was an honor to be there to support these Beatriz Garza and Celeste Gallegos. In addition, Coast Hills provided $217 to each scholarship recipient to be designated to a charity of each recipient’s choice.

Each student has a powerful story of grit, determination, and courage that exemplifies the students of Hartnell. Jeff York, CEO of Coast Hills, is a Salinas native having grown up by the College and attended Palma High School. It is always great to catch up with him and he always tells me that Salinas has a special place in his heart.  Although both students were unable to attend due to illness, I proudly accepted the scholarships on their behalf. Here is a little bit about each of them:

Beatriz Garza

Beatriz first started attending college in 2002. In her first two semesters, she got four A grades and had a GPA of 3.4 - a great start. Then her cousin moved away, which might have been sad for some, but for Beatriz, it also meant a major life change. That cousin was her ride to college, and she no longer had the ability to commute.  So, she changed her path, became a stay-at-home mom, raising three boys and serving as the glue for a family of five that has always needed to save in an up-and-down job market. Beatriz was active in parent organizations at her kids’ schools. And recently, she teamed with six other moms to complete a restroom beautification project at a major local park. Spurred by her civic pride for Salinas, it was important to her to help improve the city’s image. Now that her oldest is in college and her younger boys will be there soon, she wants to set an example. Going back to college, learning more English, earning a degree and securing a job in social work, those are her new goals. And this time, she’s ready to clear any hurdles that come her way. 

Celeste Gallegos

Just like 7 ½ million other Americans, Celeste has a speech impediment. Kids have bullied her for being different and she has felt discriminated against by prospective employers. But she refuses to view her stammer as a disability — she did not even mention it in her application — and she will be danged if she is going to let it stop her from accomplishing everything she sets out to do. Finding this place has not been easy; she has gone through periods of depression where she did not believe in herself, believe that she was smart enough to go to college or would have enough money to pay for it either.

But through enduring persistence, she is doing all of the above. She is holding down a job at Wal-Mart, has found a passion for studying photography, and she is helping the theater department produce agricultural documentaries as a leading student videographer. She hopes to transfer to San Jose State to pursue a career behind the lens. And, Celeste, we believe in you.

Congratulations to these amazing students!