Alyssa Chang, a West Ranch High School senior, was asked on Thursday morning by counselor Jodi Ferry to help her with “a few things” in the College & Career Center.
Alyssa’s mother, Sunyoung Park, and brother, Brandon Chang, were told that Alyssa was receiving a surprise from the school.
Within a moment of Alyssa entering through the College & Career Center’s door and hearing the words “congratulations” from David Ford, a SoCal Edison representative, all three of them had realized that one surprise would change the course of Alyssa’s future.
Ford handed Alyssa a check for $50,000. Alyssa was one of 30 selected statewide as a recipient of the 2023 SoCal Edison Scholar scholarship, which is dedicated to recognizing students as “the makers of tomorrow” in the study of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
“You deserve this,” said Ford. “You have really worked hard in school.”
Alyssa submitted her scholarship application months ago.
The application entailed a few essays highlighting Alyssa’s accomplishments in the community throughout her high school career, her personal life at home and her background.
Alyssa attributes her community efforts and involvement in West Ranch Math Club, West Ranch’s student newspaper The Paw Print and tutoring students at Rancho Pico Junior High to her success in achieving this award, despite not knowing if she ever would be a recipient.
“This definitely means a lot to me,” said Alyssa. “I don’t think I would have ever imagined me getting the scholarship. It was a long shot.”
Alyssa said that, nearly every day, she was in the College & Career Center preparing herself for her future.
“Alyssa is a go getter. She’s such a hard-working resilient student,” said Ferry. “She’s one of a kind, she really is.”
On Thursday morning, she said she was waiting on nine college decisions for that day. The $50,000 scholarship will go toward whichever college Alyssa chooses to attend. No matter the decision of where to go, she is aiming toward getting her degree in applied mathematics.
“I think just the scholarship overall is an affirmation for me that I’m on the right path and that I’m doing the right thing and I just need to keep going,” said Alyssa. “Keep working hard.”
Both Alyssa and her mother were brought to tears by her surprise.
Park joked at first, through her tears, that she was crying because of the money. Her tears were truly coming from a place of being a proud mother.
“She feels like this is showing, kind of like a reward, for how hard she’s worked these past four years,” said Brandon, translating for Park, “and to keep continue passionately working hard in college.”
Alyssa stood with her family, from both blood and West Ranch, with the $50,000 check in her hands as applause and flashes filled the College & Career Center.
“From the school, West Ranch, we are so proud of you to receive this,” said Principal Robert Fisher. “This is a huge accomplishment and from all your hard work and we are so proud and want to say congratulations to you and your family.”