The Brandon L. Harper Memorial Scholarship Foundation board members saw the aspects they loved about their late friend reflected in Righetti High School senior Kristin Kim, who was awarded their first scholarship on May 4.
The scholarship was established this year to mark the 10th anniversary of Harper’s death. The Righetti graduate was killed in 2007 by a drunken driver in Santa Maria.
“Brandon's memory will be validated by choosing this student as they had a lot in common,” said Katina Gleason, scholarship board president. “Brandon strived to make better grades, as Kristin did, to achieve his goals.” Gleason and Harper had been friends since seventh grade.
“We chose Kristin because she strives and worked hard to fulfill her dreams despite hardships in her life,” Gleason added,
Kim will put the $2,000 scholarship toward her education at San Francisco State University, where she will major in pre-apparel design and merchandising.
When the board was searching for their first scholarship winner, Gleason said they wanted someone who reminded them of Harper.
"We all 'lived' in high school and had a blast," Gleason said at the time. "We want a student like that, who's had a good time but wants to knuckle down and go to college."
Gleason said that after a five-round “mind share,” the board ultimately narrowed down the applicants until Kim was the only one left.
“It was a very hard decision as all applicants were outstanding,” Gleason said. “We are not an academic scholarship, however, we did see tremendous growth in (Kim’s) GPA over the course of her four years.
“We can say that these two amazing individuals (Harper and Kim) have so much in common,” she added. “They have an extreme amount of personal successes in their lives. We can tell you Kristin is the perfect fit to be our first ever recipient.”
Gleason also noted that the board agreed to send a thank-you card to each applicant along with a gift card for $100.
In a statement to the applicants, the Brandon L. Harper Memorial Scholarship Foundation said: "Every one of you who took the time to let us get to know you, thank you. Each and every one of you are amazing. We can't wait to see what you do in the future. Follow your dreams and believe in yourselves.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Gleason and Harper had known each other since seventh grade.