Seven Klamath County School District seniors – including four from Lost River Junior-Senior High School – have been selected for four-year Ford Family Foundation Scholarships that will pay for 90 percent of their college costs.
Recipients are Lost River seniors Makenzie Girtman, Yajaira Cobian, Irene Aguirre, and Luz Hernandez; Henley
High School senior Jessica Northcutt; Gilchrist Junior-Senior High School senior Madison Mefford, and Chiloquin Junior-Senor High School senior Ashia Wilson.
Of 6,000 applicants, 200 are selected for interviews. Of those, the Ford Family Foundation selects up to 125 students from Oregon and 14 students from Siskiyou County, Calif., who demonstrate exceptional academic and personal potential. The Ford Scholars scholarship covers 90 percent of unmet college costs and is calculated on the college’s cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room and board, personnel costs, etc.), minus other grants and scholarships.
Lost River has Four Ford Scholars!
For one school, especially a school the size of Lost River Junior-Senior High School, to get one – much less four Ford Scholar awards — is unheard of.
But Lost River, a 2A school with 38 seniors in its graduating class, did. Four seniors – Makenzie Girtman, Yajaria Cobian, Irene Aguirre, and Luz Hernandez – were named recipients of the Ford Family Foundation Scholarship, which covers 90 percent of unmet college costs for four years. Of 6,000 Oregon applicants, 200 were interviewed; of those, 125 were awarded a scholarship.
“I told the girls after their interviews that I felt very positive about their chances,” said Jen Johnson, Lost River’s ASPIRE, coordinator, and librarian. “I believed they had the ingredients – community service, grades, and activities – to become Ford Scholars. I was beyond excited when I found out, one by one, that they had accomplished this. This is a dream come true for them and their families.”Jen Johnson, Lost River ASPIRE Coordinator
The four girls got their award letters the same day.
“Personally, I thought there was no way four girls from the same school would all get the scholarship,” said Yajaria Cobian said. “I cried when I found out.”
Johnson works all year with seniors, helping them with college and scholarship applications. When she found out four of her seniors would be interviewing for the Ford Scholars scholarship, she set up practice mock interviews for them.
I just had this good feeling,” Johnson said. “They all had what it takes – the community service, the grades, the activities. Obviously, they all had stellar interviews because they got it.”
Klamath County’s Ford Scholars are:
Irene Aguirre: Aguirre, a senior at Lost River Junior-Senior High School, plans to attend Oregon Institute of
Technology and major in psychology and counseling. Her career goal is to be a family marriage therapist.
Aguirre, a 3.88 student, is involved in FBLA, a business club where she also is an officer; National Honor Society; and LEO Club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International which focuses on community service. She plays on a club soccer team and works part-time at County Cork Collectibles in Merrill. This year, she was on the Potato Festival Court and won runner-up for the title of Potato Festival Queen.
Yajaria Cobian: Cobian, a senior at Lost River Junior-Senior High School, plans to earn a degree in human biology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. Her goal is to specialize in nursing at Oregon Health & Science University and become a family nurse practitioner. In high school, she has maintained a 3.89 GPA, and is a three-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball, and track. She is involved in FBLA, robotics and National Honor Society. She joined FFA for the first time this year and is raising a turkey to sell at fair. She works part-time at K&K Espresso Deli in Merrill and is involved in LEO’s Club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International which focuses on community service.
Makenzie Girtman: Girtman, a senior at Lost River Junior-Senior High School, will attend Corban University, a
private Christian college in Salem. She plans to study biology and biomedical sciences. She also will play basketball for Corban. After earning her undergraduate degree, she plans to take a year off to study abroad before attending medical school and specializing in orthopedic surgery. Girtman, who has a 4.0 GPA, is a three-sport high school athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball, and softball. She is involved in 4-H, FBLA and National Honor Society and was the statistician for Lost River football games. She works part-time at K&K Espresso Deli in Merrill and is involved in LEO’s Club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International which focuses on community service. She also works at Mike and Wanda’s restaurant.
Luz Hernandez: Hernandez, a senior at Lost River Junior-Senior High School, plans to attend Oregon State
University and major in elementary education with a minor in psychology. She wants to return to the Lost River area and work as a kindergarten teacher. Hernandez, a 3.82 student, is involved in FBLA, a business club where she also is an officer; National Honor Society; and LEO Club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International which focuses on community service. She plays on a club soccer team and works part-time at Tacos A La Mexicana in Merrill.
Madison Mefford: Mefford, a senior at Gilchrist Junior-Senior High School, plans to attend University of Oregon and major in English with a creative writing concentration. A 4.0 student since seventh-grade, she is actively involved in school clubs and her community, working closely with the Gilchrist school-based health center. She also volunteers in the daycare room and helps with community cleanup. She has two jobs: During the school year, she works at evening shift at Dollar General, where she was recently promoted to manager; and in the summer months, she works as a housekeeper at Woodsman Country Lodge. Mefford started writing her book in elementary school and finished it the summer before her freshman year in high school. She hopes to publish the 450-page manuscript, which she describes as a “coming of age” story about a girl who discovers she’s the alpha of a werewolf tribe. “I grew up reading books,” she said. “It motivated me to put something out there to inspire joy.”
Jessica Northcutt: Northcutt, a senior at Henley High School, plans to attend Northwest Christian University in
Eugene to study pre-med. She also will be on the volleyball team. Northcutt has been a scholar-athlete in volleyball for four years, basketball for four years, and softball for three years. In addition, she has been involved in Hunger Not Impossible, which opened a food pantry at the school and provides meals for students during the summer months. Her community service activities also include Henley High School blood drives, a fund-raising crab feed, church activities, and sponsorship of a Special Olympics basketball tournament.
Ashia Wilson: Wilson, a senior at Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School, plans to attend the University of Oregon
and major in environmental studies. Her career goal is to be an environmental rights advocate.
Wilson, a 3.65 student, is only 16 and has advanced her coursework to be able to graduate a year early. She is very involved in the Chiloquin community and is a member of the Klamath Tribal Youth Council, where she is focused on environmental issues. As a sophomore, Wilson took part in the Rios to Rivers program, which included a six- week exchange in Chile to study watersheds in other regions of the world.
Wilson created a kayak club designed to reconnect Chiloquin youth to their local waterways. She also took part in an internship through Klamath River Keepers where she focused on dam removal, water quality, and quantity
through a tribal perspective. Within this work, Wilson was featured in an article in Vanity Fair about her experiences.
Wilson has set up within Chiloquin Elementary School a community closet for those in need. She has collected
donations from various companies and individuals and purchased clothing and hygiene products.