Three Poway High Students Receive Top AVID Scholarship

3 students holding scholarship checks
(From L to R) Aaron Avila Lopez, Advisor Karen Kawasaki-Williams, Justin Arias Chamu, Karla Soriano
By Brianna Millican, Student Intern

Poway High seniors Karla Soriano, Aaron Avila Lopez, and Justin Arias Chamu, as well as Mission Hills High senior Kelly Amador, and San Pasqual High senior Vanessa Venegas were each selected to receive 2023 Lamp of Learning scholarships, which are $2,000 annual awards for first-generation college students attending institutions of higher education. 

The Lamp of Learning recognized the five students and their academic achievements at a special event at the University Club atop Symphony Towers. Each student worked fiercely to overcome challenges to attend college in the fall. The three Poway students attended the event with their AVID teacher Karen Kawasaki-Williams and their family members.

The Lamp of Learning's mission is to reduce the barriers that high-achieving, low-income students throughout San Diego County encounter when preparing, applying, and paying for a college education. Lamp of Learning helps students to minimize these challenges through mentoring and scholarship programs.

Aaron Lopez will continue his education at San Diego State University, where he looks forward to joining the engineering club. This past year, Aaron said he learned the importance of time management as he juggled social events, exams, and extracurricular activities. As Aaron starts the next academic chapter of his life, he stated, “I want to make my family proud and give back to my community.”

Justin Chamu will be attending UC San Diego in the fall where he will continue to grow his passion for engineering. 

Karla Soriano will be attending Cal Poly Pomona and is excited to meet new people and be just as involved in clubs as she was in high school. 

Kelly Amador is looking forward to her freshman year at UC Irvine. She is eager to get involved in the pre-law program and clubs.

Vanessa Venegas and her family are seeing her hard work pay off as she plans to attend Point Loma Nazarene to continue her academic journey. This is a memorable moment for the Venegas family as Vanessa is the first in her family to go to college. Vanessa is excited to see how her English and Education major will impact others in the future. 

The Lamp of Learning scholarship fund was founded in 2004, making it the oldest philanthropic charity of the University Club atop Symphony Towers. The fund gives $18,000 in scholarships annually to San Diego County high school seniors planning on attending a 4-year university. The Lamp of Learning fund partners with AVID, an intensive college preparation program delivered in high schools, to highlight and target exceptional first-generation college hopefuls.