Six 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 unmet college costs.
Recipients are Lost River seniors Aaron Reyes Rodriguez, Johan Ayala Macias, Jasmin Hernandez Aguilera, and Michelle Ruedas Chavarria; and Gilchrist Junior/Senior High School senior Samantha Spurlock. One of the recipients asked not to be acknowledged publicly.
The Ford Scholars Program is a highly selective scholarship that awards students from Oregon and Siskiyou County, California who are planning to complete a four-year degree at a college in their home state. The renewable scholarship provides 90% of unmet need for each academic year.
Of more than 1,000 applicants, 130 were named as Ford Scholars based on exceptional academic and personal potential and motivation to succeed in college. Recipients are selected for their academic potential, work ethic, as demonstrated by paid employment or working in the household, commitment to community service, and leadership skills.
Reyes, Ayala, Hernandez and Ruedas are bilingual – speaking both English and Spanish. All four thanked their parents for the sacrifices they made moving to the U.S. from Mexico and providing their children opportunities.
Spurlock, who overcame being bullied in school and is class valedictorian, thanked her father for pushing her to succeed. She also credited the Ford Scholarship Foundation for providing opportunities for graduating seniors.
“When I found out, I was so happy I started crying. I truly felt on top of the world,” she said. “This scholarship helps me in so many ways, the biggest being that I now have no financial worry.”
Meet KCSD’s Ford Scholars:
Aaron Reyes Rodriguez
Aaron, 18, a senior at Lost River, plans to attend University of Oregon and major in computer science. His goal is a career in software engineering.
With a 3.9 GPA, he will graduate June 9 with an honor’s diploma. He participated in community service as a member of the Leo’s Club. He also is a member of ASPIRE, FBLA, National Honor Society, student leadership, and robotics. In robotics, he has qualified for the national competition four times and won trophies in nearly every category.
In 10 years: Aaron plans to be making six figures, working in his field in a large city.
Biggest challenge: “Opening up and talking to more people.”
Favorite class: Student leadership
Parents: Maria Rodriguez
Jasmin Hernandez Aguilera
After graduating from Lost River in June, Jasmin, 18, plans to attend George Fox University and study for a major in biology and minor in psychology. Her goal is to attend medical school and work as an obstetrician and gynecologist.
Jasmin maintained 4.0 GPA while participating in MESA, Leo’s Club, Theater Club, Kindness Club, ASPIRE, FBLA, National Honor Society, ASB (student leadership) and robotics. She has been a class officer for student leadership all four of high schools and served as ASB president her senior year.
In 10 years: “I will be completing another step to becoming an ob-gyn, and maybe have a family.” Her dream to be a physician was also her mother’s dream, but her mother wasn’t able to continue her schooling due to finances. “It has made my dream more meaningful,” she said. “My goal is to be able to travel the world, providing low-income families with the help they need.”
Biggest challenge: “Growing into who I am today. I used to be a follower, but I realized my focus needs to be on who I am, not on what others want me to be.”
Favorite class: Student leadership. Math comes a close second.
Parents: Epimenio Hernandez and Martha Hernandez Aguilera
Johan Ayala Macias
Johan, 18, a senior at Lost River, plans to attend University of Oregon and major in computer science. His goal is a career as a software developer.
He will graduate June 9 with a 4.0 GPA. Johan participated in community service as a member of the Leo’s Club. He also is a member of Kindness Club, ASPIRE, FBLA, National Honor Society, and robotics. In robotics, he has qualified for the national competition and won trophies in nearly every category. Johan also is an athlete, participating in track, baseball, and football for Lost River, and in club soccer.
In 10 years: “Hopefully I’ll have a job as a software engineer, maybe with a family. I want to bring something back here. That’s always been the plan – to do something and bring opportunities to others in my community.”
Biggest challenge: “Getting out of my comfort zone, and branching out.” He credits his high school speech class with helping him learn to communicate in a concise and clear manner.
Favorite class: Economics
Parents: Alma Ayala
Michelle Ruedas Chavarria
Michelle, 18, a senior at Lost River, plans to attend George Fox University with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in business. Her goal is to work as a dental hygienist and eventually own a gym that caters to girls and women.
She maintained a 3.8 GPA while participating in Leo’s Club, FFA, National Honor Society, ASPIRE, student leadership and FBLA. She was a state officer for FBLA and an ASB officer. Michelle is also an multi-sport athlete, competing in cross country, volleyball, basketball, softball and track.
In 10 years: “I want to be working as a dental hygienist while owning my own gym.”
Biggest challenge: “Learning to accept help. I didn’t want to be seen as weak.”
Favorite class: Student leadership and science.
Parents: Angelica Chavarria and Israel Ruedas
Samantha, 18, will graduate from Gilchrist Junior/Senior High School in June as valedictorian. She plans to attend University of Oregon and major in psychology with a minor in criminology. From a young age, she has been interested in how minds work, and hopes to use that interest to work within and help the legal system.
In high school, she participated in National Honor Society, ASB leadership, and GSA Club. Samantha is also a three-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball, and track.
In 10 years: “In 10 years, I see myself living in Portland. I will have secured a job as a forensic psychologist, and I will hopefully also be helping out in different charities with my family. My main goal is to be successful and happy.”
Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge would be my peers. I was bullied pretty bad throughout high school so it was difficult to keep motivation to keep going.”
Favorite class: Anatomy and Math 111
Parents: Nat Spurlock and Jen Lisk