‘I Like to Remind Us that Intelligence is Not Determined by Zip Code’

For more than 30 years, TELACU and Edison International have worked to support underserved, minority students who strive to achieve collegiate success.

January 14, 2014 | By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom @SCE_CarolineA

Like many first generation Hispanic students, Lisset Guzman’s family did not have the resources to pay for her college education. But that did not stop her from pursuing her degree, and she was determined to work through college if she had to.

But after getting accepted to Azusa Pacific University, it was at an orientation meeting that Guzman first learned about the TELACU scholarships for underserved minority students. She quickly applied and was awarded $5,000 for her first year’s tuition and expenses.

“I was honored to have TELACU believe in my dream of achieving and obtaining a higher education,” she said. “By demonstrating it with financial support I didn’t have to worry too much about the next school payment.”

For more than 30 years, the TELACU Education Foundation has been supporting thousands of low-income minority students with scholarships, mentoring and support. They now boast a 99 percent success rate for TELACU scholars obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree.

Edison International was the first corporate sponsor and the first benefactor for the TELACU College Success Program, which includes scholarships. For the past ten years, Edison International has awarded a total of $335,000 in grants to this TELACU program. The scholarships component places a special emphasis on students pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) curriculum.  

“Edison International’s work with TELACU over the past three decades has resulted in a number of talented students achieving their academic dreams,” said Gaddi Vasquez, Edison International senior vice president of Government Affairs. “At Edison, we believe that higher education is a transformative tool and by supporting students in the STEM fields we hope to nurture the next generation of energy leaders.”

Dr. David Lizarraga, chairman and founder of the TELACU Education Foundation, has many moments to be proud of during a successful business career spanning more than 50 years, but for him it’s the TELACU students that he cites as his proudest achievement.

“These young people just need an opportunity,” he said. “I like to remind us that intelligence is not determined by zip code, and we cannot allow opportunity to be limited by zip code either. All children must have access to a quality education and opportunities that will allow them to reach their full potential and become contributing adults.”

He credits the support of corporations like Edison International for the achievements of the College Success Program.

“Edison’s support has been critical to the success of our foundation and of our scholars. Today, as a result of Edison’s support, TELACU scholar alumni number thousands of extraordinary individuals nationwide.”

Guzman was the first member of her family to graduate from college. She now has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in sociology, and a master’s degree in organizational development. Her TELACU scholarship introduced her to Edison International’s utility SCE where she was able to intern in their Information Technology department. She now works full-time in SCE’s Human Resources Solutions department.

She credits the mentoring and support she received from the TELACU College Success Program’s various seminars and workshops for much of her current success.

“The TELACU Education Foundation and scholarship were instrumental to my professional development,” said Guzman. “As the first in my family to attend and graduate from college, I found the road to obtaining higher education less overwhelming.”

Scarlett Carrillo, an SCE engineer in the Advanced Applications group, is another success story for the TELACU and Edison International collaboration. A winner of a TELACU scholarship, she earned her Bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Los Angeles.

The TELACU scholarship introduced her to Edison International where she was able to get an internship in SCE’s Advanced Technology division before recently getting hired on full-time.

“For me personally, the TELACU scholarship helped me realize that there are resources out there for students like myself. For instance, women in engineering, first generation attending college, and minorities,” said Carrillo. “Having this support system for me has made me realize there is someone out there that believes in me and has hope in me succeeding.”

The TELACU Education Foundation is currently accepting applications for its next round of scholarships and the deadline to apply is Feb. 28. Scholarships are available for first-generation college students from a low-income household.

Topics: People