Hardships Spur Santa Ana Classmates to Pursue Engineering Degrees

Thirty high school seniors are honored at an Edison Scholars reception. Each student will receive a $40,000 scholarship.

Esmeralda Osorio started referring to her house as “Hotel Osorio” after her mother fell on hard times and rented out two bedrooms to her brother’s family. That left the five in Esmeralda’s family crammed into the living room.

So Esmeralda took great interest when her family decided to remodel their garage into two bedrooms. The Santa Ana High School senior studied every facet of the project, helping hands-on by painting. That experience inspired her to become a civil engineer.

Esmeralda is getting help pursuing that goal with a $40,000 Edison Scholars scholarship from Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison. Thirty outstanding high school seniors in SCE’s service area were recently honored at a reception at Edison’s Rosemead headquarters

“I want to give back to my community where many families like mine live in bad conditions due to economic problems,” said Esmeralda, who is the first person in her family to go to college.

Esmeralda was able to celebrate the occasion with her high school classmate Noeli Zarate, who also won an Edison Scholars scholarship. Santa Ana High School was the only school to have two Edison Scholars this year.

Noeli wants to major in computer science and civil engineering at UC Irvine. Her goal is to plan buildings that can provide health care to underprivileged communities. Ultimately, she wants to own her own company.

“I want to be an engineer because engineers make people’s lives better,” she said.

Esmeralda, Noeli and this year’s other 28 Edison Scholars faced stiff competition in winning the coveted scholarships. More than 930 high school seniors applied. Students had to demonstrate financial need and plan to major in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). Since 2006, Edison International has awarded $6.5 million in scholarships to 550 students.

SCE President Pedro Pizarro congratulated the scholars on their accomplishments, noting the STEM majors they plan to pursue will produce the skilled workers Edison needs to adapt to the dramatic technological challenges facing the utility industry.

“We are proud of you and we are investing in you,” he said. “You will have the opportunity to pay it forward.”

Meet the 2016 Edison Scholars