Just the name Harvard University is daunting to an incoming freshman, but even more so for a student of modest means from California who is living away from home for the first time.
That’s the situation Javier Cuan-Martinez, a recipient of a $40,000 Edison Scholars award, found himself in last year when he started at the Ivy League school just outside Boston.
“I don’t think anything you do can prepare you for the first four months of college,” said Javier, who is from Temecula. “It’s like being thrown into the shark tank.”
So when he learned five 2015 Edison Scholars would be attending Harvard this year, he reached out.
Whether it is advice on which classes to take or on “extracurricular activities,” Javier said he wanted them to feel like they had someone who had been through it to talk to.
Friendships and support systems are just one of the side benefits of being an Edison Scholar. The biggest advantage, however, is the $40,000 college scholarship paid out over four years.
Chandler Brown, one of the five Edison Scholars who just began his studies at Harvard, said a large part of being able to enjoy and take full advantage of the university is due to the Edison scholarship.
“Although I had been blessed to be accepted to Harvard University, I did not know if I would be able to afford to attend,” he said. “It is because of the Edison scholarship that I can pursue a degree in engineering and, hopefully one day, be able to give back to the company and community that so generously gave to me.”
Each year, Edison International selects 30 high school seniors for the scholarships. Since 2006, Edison International, Southern California Edison’s (SCE) parent company, has awarded $5.3 million to 520 Edison Scholars.
Competition has grown each year for the coveted college aid. This year, 2,768 high school seniors applied for the 30 scholarships. That was an 86 percent increase over the 1,491 who applied in 2014.
Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and either live in or attend public or private high schools in SCE’s service area.
The high school seniors must demonstrate financial need and plan to be a full-time undergraduate student majoring in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, industrial engineering, computer sciences/info system, environmental engineering or environmental sciences at a four-year college or university.
“Our Edison Scholars Program helps low-income and underrepresented students pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE’s director of Philanthropy and Community Investment.
“Twenty-first century careers and professional opportunities will be enhanced by young people with STEM expertise, so we strongly encourage high school seniors from SCE’s service area who qualify to apply for the Edison Scholarship.”
Scholarship application and eligibility information is available at scholarsapply.org/edisonscholars.