Hawthorne student Chika Okonkwo, third from left, was one of 30 students selected by Edison International this year to each receive a $40,000 scholarship to pursue studies in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field. She was encouraged by her high school counselor to apply for the scholarship and found out that she was a recipient when she and her twin returned home from their Advanced Placement government class and noticed a large yellow envelope in their mailbox.
“I opened the envelope and my eyes went directly to the (bold faced) award amount confirming that I received the scholarship,” she said. “I was ecstatic.”
Okonkwo was 13 years old when she first immigrated to the United States from Nigeria. Now, five years later, she is heading to UC San Diego to pursue a career in bioengineering thanks largely to the Edison Scholars Program.
“This scholarship means more than a lot to me, because I will be able to come out of college loan free,” she said. “Think about it, a 13 year old girl (who) emigrated from an undeveloped country and had no clue of what to expect in America, is able to receive a higher education that is completely funded.”
The Edison Scholars Program also provide company mentors to help students successfully get through their college careers.
According to Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment for Southern California Edison, the scholars program promotes the inclusion of minority, low-income and under-represented students in these academic fields.