Six Riverside high school seniors win $500 scholarships to pursue STEM careers

A tribute to a grandmother has led to $500 scholarships for six Riverside high school graduates interested in STEM careers.

Western Municipal Water District board Vice President Gracie Torres created a scholarship program for Riverside Unified School District students who wish to pursue STEM careers. (Courtesy of Gracie Torres)

Gracie Torres, the first Latina to serve on the Western Municipal Water District board, launched the scholarship program in honor of her grandmother Angelita, who grew up in a tiny town in Durango, Mexico, and devoted her life to teaching her nine children about the power of education, a news release states. She donated her inheritance, a plot of land, to her hometown for construction of a school.

Now, nearly 60 years later, Torres is a professor at Cal State San Bernardino and a water chemist at Riverside County’s Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

Torres worked with the Riverside Unified School District to award six scholarships to graduates from schools in the water district’s Division 2, according to the release.

“To be able to recognize my abuelita’s legacy of service and education is an absolute honor,” Torres said in the release. “I can trace my passion for service to my ancestors, my parents, and as a child growing up in Riverside and graduating from Poly High School as well as Riverside City College. It took scholarships to afford me the opportunity to pursue my profession, which would later inspire me to run for elected office.”

Counselors chose the winners, who will each receive $500. They were recognized during a July 16 virtual ceremony.

The winners, and their planned schools, are:

•Kathy Bonilla, North High School, plans to attend the University of Redlands

•Cindy Galeana, STEM Academy, plans to attend UC Riverside

•Dillon Gonzalez, Martin Luther King High School, plans to attend UC Irvine

•Daryl McCloud, Arlington High School, plans to attend San Francisco State University

•Genesis Lopez, Abraham Lincoln High School, plans to attend Cal State San Bernardino

•Yesenia Villareal, Poly High School, plans to attend Humboldt State University

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