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East County News Service

August 15, 2019 (El Cajon) - El Cajon resident Pamela Gallardo has received the Lolita Lizarraga Scholarship from local nonprofit MANA de San Diego. She was just one of 25 local Latina students to chosen for the honor.

As a freshman at Cuyamaca College majoring in Computer Engineering, Pamela has experienced financial challenges – specifically as it pertained to getting a laptop for school and signing up for tutoring. But with the MANA de San Diego scholarship, she is now able to buy a laptop and do online tutoring programs with Pathway, the STEM club and RAZA Unida. She soon had the highest score in her computer science course.

MANA de San Diego’s Scholarship Program is committed to helping San Diego Latinas pursue higher education by providing financial assistance to those enrolled in an institution of higher learning. Scholarship recipients are selected based on community leadership and engagement, educational and professional goals, financial need and special circumstances. To date, the organization has awarded 502 scholarships, totaling more than $518,500.

Gallardo recalls struggling without funds to afford a computer needed for coding classes and a computer science class. “All of that made me really question my major and future goals,” she says. However, because of the MANA Scholarship and money that I saved up, I was able to afford my laptop. A lot of the times we don’t consider how something like a laptop can give you hope but that is what it did for me.”

She adds, “It’s true that financial hardship in education is an obstacle for Latina Women but I am also an example of how by giving support to a Latina she can be successful. I am aware that throughout my education money will always be a problem, however, I won’t let that stop me from accomplishing my dreams because now I am certain that I want to be a software engineer.”

She also mentors young girls to join “programs that will change their life as it did for me” such as MANA de San Diego, BLCI, and Yalla de San Diego.

Now studying to be a computer engineering major to fulfill her dream of becoming a software engineer, she hopes to work in computer systems on encryption, hardware for chips or. 3D printing.

“The biggest thing that I want to accomplish in my lifetime,” she concludes, “is to develop technology that will help future generations and inspire other girls to use technology to change the world.”

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