Academy of the Canyons (AOC) graduate Aaron Kim was one of 85 college-bound students to receive a scholarship from the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Southern California.
“Upon receiving the scholarship, I was very grateful and honored,” said Kim who will be attending University of California, Berkeley this fall. “The scholarship meant a lot to me not only because it helps me offset my college tuition, but RMHC’s willingness to invest in my education positively molded my perspective on the essence of giving back to the community.”
Since 1990, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California (RMHCSC) has awarded more than $5.7 million in scholarships to more than 3,400 high school graduates.
This year, RMHCSC awarded $233,000 in scholarships within four programs: RMHC/African-American Future Achievers, RMHC/Asian Pacific American Students Increasing Achievement (ASIA), RMHC/Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources (HACER) and RMHC/Scholars.
“These students are such high academic achievers,” said Patti Widdicombe, a local McDonald’s owner/operator and the RMHCSC Scholarship Committee chair for the RMHC/Scholars program. “It makes us proud to be McDonald’s owners and operators to give back to the community.”
Nearly 2,000 students from Southern California applied for the four scholarships. Applicants must meet a certain criteria before their applications are reviewed and graded by community members and volunteer readers.
“We have 150 volunteer readers who go through the applications and essays and read each one of them and grade them,” Widdicombe said. “Then we take the top 15 or 20 percent and the committee goes through each application and then the committee decides the scholarship winners.”
Kim was one of 22 students from Southern California who was awarded a RMHC/Scholars Scholarship, which is considered a scholarship for the “high achievers” according to Widdicombe.
On Saturday, all 85 scholarship winners were recognized for their efforts during a celebratory luncheon at Skirball Cultural Center’s Herscher Hall.
“The luncheon on Saturday was truly magnificent, elaborate and elegant,” Kim said.
During the luncheon, scholarship winners were presented with a medal before they spoke with McDonald’s owners and operators, met with fellow students and took pictures with Ronald McDonald himself.
Kim said he enjoyed meeting fellow graduates from the area and hearing guest speakers, like Femgineer Founder Poornima Vijayashanker and Univision personality Fernanda Kelly, speak on stage.
“Various guest speakers communicated with the scholarship recipients about their experiences in college and in the workforce, which allowed me to acquire profound advice,” Kim said. “It truly signified the value of giving back to the community.”
For Widdicombe, the event is one of her favorites as it provides a formal setting to recognize and inspire the student scholarship winners.
“It’s so inspirational and so amazing,” she said. “It’s beyond anyone’s expectations when they come… Overwhelming students tell us that they experience pride from taking their parents to the banquets and inspiration from hearing the speakers.”
As Kim prepares for his first year of college at UC Berkeley, he said he is looking forward to meeting new people and enrolling in a variety of courses.
“Although the transition from high school to college is a gigantic leap that makes me slightly anxious, I am eager to meet new people, as well as engage in a significant amount of treasure hunting at a university with many educational resources,” he said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_