Don Diego awards $55,000 in college scholarships to 18 students

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation recently announced that it has awarded $55,000 in college scholarships to 18 high-potential and high-potential students, according to a press release.

Scholarships in a range of categories have been offered to students who reside in San Diego County and have participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds .

Don Diego President Juanita Hayes says, “The rising cost of higher education, combined with economic uncertainties resulting from the pandemic, makes college a daunting challenge for many families. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are able to ease the financial burden and ease the anxiety so that our ambitious and accomplished scholars can soar into a bright future pursuing their goals.

Fellows will be celebrated at the Don Diego Gala on June 24 and at the Sam Hunt Concert at the San Diego County Fair. Tickets are available at

The first four recipients

Ethan Rockwell of Valley Center captured a total of $11,000; winning a $5,000 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship, a $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Cattle Auction Scholarship and the coveted $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship awarded annually to the most outstanding candidate. He will enroll at South Dakota State University.

Ethan reports, “I will be majoring in Natural Resources Law Enforcement and minoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Science so I can achieve my dream career as a Conservation Officer/Warden fishing and hunting; helping both the environment and people. This serious conservationist says: “I want to make a difference in this world, by helping to protect wildlife and preserve their habitats.

Ethan’s passion began at a young age, where he acquired “an appreciation for plants and animals. I grew up playing and working on our small family farm, participating in 4-H and FFA and enjoying the outdoors. A recommender praised him, saying, “Ethan is quite well known and respected in the local farming community for his knowledge, showmanship and character. Besides being a leader and an excellent student, he was active in school sports and volunteered to help his community.

Abigail Cotton

Abigail Cotton isn’t just a straight student, she’s graduating valedictorian from Valley Center High. She achieved an incredible 4.8 GPA tackling a tough AP honors program while working, volunteering, excelling in varsity cross country and becoming an award-winning legend at the fair. This Valley Center Greenhand chapter president won the $5,000 Don Diego Drown & Morrison FFA Scholarship, as well as a $3,000 Junior Cattle Auction Scholarship. She will attend Blinn College, where she will major in animal science to become a livestock veterinarian.

This daring leader who says: “I refused to let anyone define what I could achieve”, intends to contribute to research in the field of bovine genetics. She says, “I’m incredibly passionate about agriculture. It is the science of hope for a better future.

As well as winning numerous FFA competitions, including five Grand Champion Beef Showman awards, Abigail has served as an inspirational role model. She says, “Participating in the fair not only increased my confidence in my own abilities, but allowed me to instill that confidence in younger members.

Madilyne Golden

Madilyne Golden will travel from Fallbrook to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo powered by two Don Diego awards: a $4,500 Tulloch Family Livestock Auction Scholarship and a $1,500 Roxana Foxx FFA Scholarship. This future equine veterinarian confides: “I have always loved animals, and I know that working with cattle and horses will fit perfectly into my life.

In fact, it already is. While excelling academically, participating in varsity gymnastics, and being active in a plethora of clubs at Fallbrook High, Madi works at a veterinary hospital and devotes a tremendous amount of time and effort to animal-related community service. She reports, “I have spent many hours helping raise and train service dogs for veterans with PTSD and giving therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities.

A recommender describes Madi as “an incredible force in our community” who demonstrates “enthusiasm, dedication, critical thinking and pure kindness” on a daily basis.

Kyra Chen

Kyra Chen from Carlsbad jokes that his interest in science and empathy for living creatures started early: “I spent most of my childhood years wandering around the apartment complex, picking up snails on the sidewalk and put them in the bushes for safety.” Today, this outstanding academic from the competitive San Dieguito Academy, where she is graduating with a 4.39 GPA, will leverage her $5,000 Don Diego Scholarship for Ranglas Family Exhibitors/Participants at the University Duke. “I intend to pursue a biomedical career and conduct research contributing to the development of new drugs.

Kyra proactively began to successfully explore this career, completing an internship at a local pharmaceutical company. She explains: “My task was to assess the effect of pharmaceutical treatments on the differentiation of human bronchial epithelial cells, a cellular model of cystic fibrosis; culminating in my presentation of the results to the company’s Pulmonary Drug Discovery Group. »

Kyra is an award-winning figure skater and published artist. She is fluent in Mandarin, is a musician, and a member of her school’s California Native Plant Club. A USFSA synchronized skating gold medalist, in addition to competing, Kyra coaches young ice skaters and has diligently saved the earnings to help pay for her college education. Her skating instructor praises Kyra as “someone who makes this world a better place.”

Additional recipients

Alyssa AriasJulian, $2,500 Juanita Hayes FFA Fellowship, UC Davis, International Agricultural Development

Monique FerrisLakeside, $1,000 Ecke Family FFA Scholarship, $1,000 Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship, Oklahoma State University, Agriculture Business/Communications

Pauldean GervargesSan Diego $2,500 Schenk Family Employee Scholarship, San Diego State University, Finance

Will Warner, Lakeside, $2,500 Allan Royster Vocational Training Scholarship, Grossmont College, Culinary Arts

Julia BellavanceSantee, $2,500 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship, San Diego State University, Interior Architecture

Charles DiltzEscondido, $1,500 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship, Palomar College, Engineering/Agriculture

Anna SohnDel Mar, $1,000 Zable Foundation 4-H Scholarship, University of Michigan, Business Administration

Marianne SadikSan Marcos, $2,500 Karetas Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship, San Diego State University, Civil Engineering

Melie SimpsonEl Cajon, $1,500 Mannen Family Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship, Claremont McKenna College, Business Economics and International Studies

Darby GallagherOceanside, $1,000 Fellowship for Ecke Family Exhibitors/Participants, University of Denver, Computer Science

Rachel RapueJulian, Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction $1,000 Scholarship, Butte Glenn Community College, Animal Science

Carson RossiLakeside $1,000 Scholarship for Zable Foundation Junior Cattle Auction, Cal Poly SLO, Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering

Skylar RossiLakeside, Zable Foundation Junior Livestock Auction $1,000 Scholarship, Cal Poly SLO, Bioresource and Agriculture Engineering

Keleigh WilliamsonValley Center, $2,500 Brothers Forever Scholarship, Cal Poly Humboldt, Agricultural Education

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named in honor of Don Diego, aka Tom Hernandez, who served as the fair’s Goodwill Ambassador from 1947 to 1984. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded 1,276,844 $ in bursaries to 362 students and agricultural scholarships. More information on and — Don Diego Foundation press release

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