Francisco Sepulveda, 18, starts his day each morning at 5:30 a.m. He drives his mom to work and heads back home to get ready for school. As the first family member to attend college, he’s made his parents proud. He just never imagined how difficult it would be to pay for his tuition.

“The first two quarters [I] had trouble paying for school,” said Francisco, a freshman at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) who is studying biology. “My mom had to find a job. I was looking for a job too – it was either her or me.”

But earlier this year Francisco learned that he and fellow student Yulan Lin, 17, had been selected to

receive scholarships funded by a $1 million donation from Edison International to CSULA’s Honors College. Each year, the students will receive full scholarship support through their graduation.

“It means a lot,” said Francisco of the scholarship. “Maybe [my mom] won’t have to work anymore, since it will be enough money to pay for books, gas expenses and a little bit for myself too.”

Edison International’s scholarship program focuses on underserved and underrepresented students whose studies fall in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Last year, the company donated $19.2 million to nonprofits, $10.8 million of which went to educational programs. All of the donations come from shareholder dollars.

“At Edison International, we recognize that higher education is a transformative tool. For people of all cultures, education changes lives,” said Ted Craver, CEO of Edison International.

It is “especially invigorating and fun to do it with these young children. They are incredible scholars … they really have the whole of their life in front of them,” he added. “You can feel the enthusiasm and pride of their families.”

Yulan has been making her family proud for many years. At the young age of 13, she entered CSULA’s Early Entrance Program and will graduate next year with a degree in chemistry.

A member of the Honors College since her second year at CSULA, the Edison scholarship will help her continue to pursue her dream of teaching one day.

“I’m glad to see that a big company is investing time and resources in education,” she said. “Investing in a person is more than just the knowledge that they give, but you are investing in the citizens of the future.”

The Honors College at CSULA offers students an opportunity to take part in a scholarly community and prepares them to have a positive impact on society. Edison’s $1 million donation towards the Honors College has already garnered an additional $1 million in support.

Dr. James M. Rosser, a former board of director for Edison International and current CSULA president who plans to retire this year, praised Edison’s commitment to invest in the future of young people.

“One of America’s best companies chooses to invest in its young people … hopefully it’s a harbinger of the future,” said Rosser. This scholarship “means that quite a few students from our service territory will have an opportunity to attend college in a much more affordable way.” 

Francisco’s two younger sisters attended the ceremony to see their older brother receive his Edison scholarship. He considers himself a role model for them, and his sister is already talking about following in his footsteps.

Those steps may one day lead Francisco to his dream job of working as a crime scene investigator, or CSI, perhaps for the FBI.

For now, he’s concentrating on completing his biology degree at CSULA and making his family proud.

My parents “have always been there supporting me since day one,” he said. “I hope this is a way to pay them back for everything that they have done for me."