091219 Vineyard Team scholarship recipients

2019 Vineyard Team scholarship winners hold a check for a combined award amount of $26,000.

Each year the Vineyard Team Scholarship Program awards higher education scholarships to high school seniors and college students — all children of farmworkers on the Central Coast.

This year, Vineyard Team reports that it has awarded $26,000 in scholarships, which is the largest amount paid out to-date since its inception in 2015.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer these scholarships to these amazing young adults," said Vineyard Team Executive Director, Kris Beal. "For these vineyard employees who have spent their lives contributing to our industry, supporting their children’s educational pursuits is the least we can do.” 

Sandy Garcia who was born in King City and graduated as valedictorian of her high school class, is enrolled at University of California Los Angeles where she hopes to pursue marketing or public relations. 

Leonardo Ruiz is one of four children to parents who work in agriculture. Now in his final year at University of California Santa Barbara, Ruiz has always had his sights set on graduating from a four-year college. He will be the first of his family to do so.

“I want to prove to my parents that all of their sacrifices are worth it,” says the senior.

After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree and attending graduate school, Ruiz hopes to have a career in robotics or bioengineering.

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Evelyn Alvarez is a senior at Cal Poly, completing a fungicide resistance project with Dr. Shunping Ding. Her hope is to pursue a post-graduate career in viticulture with a focus on vineyard management.

Alvarez explained that the Vineyard Team’s impact on promoting sustainable winegrowing practices along with her father’s “honorable work in vineyards” inspired her to study viticulture.

Michelle Aguilar received the Vineyard Team scholarship two years during her college career at Fresno State where she is working to obtain a Bachelor’s in Speech Pathology with an emphasis on communicative disorders.

Growing up, she learned English while attending school in the Salinas Valley. She now plans to return to her community as a bilingual speech pathologist and offer much needed support to first generation students like herself.

Scholarships are offered each spring.

Interested applicants can visit www.VineyardTeam.org/scholarship for more information.

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Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.