Camille Schlesinger stood among the lunch benches at Chino Hills High School shaking her head in disbelief.

“I’m pretty much in shock right now,” she said. 

Camille had just learned she is one of 30 high school seniors across Southern California Edison’s (SCE) service territory named a 2014 Edison Scholar and the recipient of a $40,000 scholarship offered by Edison International, the parent company of SCE. Each scholar lives in or attends public or private high school in SCE’s service area and plans to pursue college studies in the science, technology, engineering or math fields, also known as STEM.

Under the $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program, each student will be awarded a scholarship valued at $40,000 and paid over four years.

For Camille, the scholarship will allow her to attend the school of her choice and pursue her dream career in computer science.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the scholarship,” she said, wearing an Edison Scholar medallion around her neck. “It’s so nice of Edison to give back and help us, so we can help you and help the world in return. This is fantastic. Thank you so much.”

For Tony Hua, a South El Monte High School senior, also named an Edison Scholar, the financial support is welcomed and will be a tremendous help to him and his family.

“My family’s not that rich. We have to all pitch in to make things work,” said Tony, who helps support his family working as a tutor. “Now we won’t have to worry about loans and I can focus on my studies.”

Tony plans to major in mechanical engineering with an environmental specialty at either Harvard University or Stanford University this fall. “It’s not like work to me. It’s more like fun,” he said. “I get to design whatever I think of and if I draw it out, I can create my product.”

Last summer, Tony interned at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was one of only seven high school students among over 300 undergraduate and post-graduate college students. He so impressed his mentor, he was hired to work on a project in which he designed a compact, origami-inspired package.

Yvette Gonzalez, program manager, Community and Education Investments for SCE, said presenting Edison scholarships to deserving students is one of her favorite parts of the job.

“These students are amazing,” she said. “Edison International has a long history of supporting education and underrepresented students who we believe will be successful in their academic pursuit of STEM studies, and make important contributions to their communities and society.”

Since 2006, Edison International has awarded nearly $4 million in scholarships to 460 students. More than 1,400 high school seniors applied for the 2014 scholarships, a 92 percent increase over the previous school year.

Students’ growing exposure to STEM courses comes as no surprise to Jon Gundry, superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District, and he praised Edison International for inspiring students to pursue such challenging fields of study.

“I appreciate the fact that Edison is encouraging kids to go into STEM careers because I really believe it is the future,” he said. “This is the future for our students.”

Brenden Dickerson, a senior at John Muir High School in Pasadena, said it feels wonderful to receive an Edison scholarship and “to know I have people behind me to help me succeed in life.”

Brenden’s favorite subjects in school are mathematics and science, and he plans to major in mechanical engineering in college.

He’s appreciative of Edison International and its leaders for supporting students like him. “I would say thank you very much, for the money, the whole scholarship, the whole recognition is very amazing and I do appreciate it,” said Brenden.