RESTON, Va. (WDVM) — Since 2016, the Reston Scholarship Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia has awarded 33 South Lakes High School students with college scholarships.
Reston residents Gil and Liz Blankespoor started the fund to help South Lakes graduates threatened by financial need and the rising cost of college.
Each scholarship is worth up to $16,000 to be distributed over the course of up to six years, as long as the student maintains a GPA of 2.75 or higher.
The organization requests donations from members of the community and corporations.
High school senior Alejandro Alvarenga received his scholarship over the weekend. “It is going to pay for my college and then I’ll be able to get a better job and help my family,” said Alvarenga, who says he plans to eventually move to California to start a career in acting.
It doesn’t start and end with the scholarship; each student is assigned a mentor from the Community Foundation to guide them through college. “We meet them throughout each year,” said volunteer Kristen Bobik. “If they need someone to talk to, or if they need help navigating things through school, we’re there to kind of help them through that.”
George Mason University grad Sofia Abdala was among the first class of students to receive their scholarships in 2016. She graduated with a degree in psychology and plans to go to occupational therapy school.
“[The scholarship] helps you not really worry about that aspect. A lot of us students who got the scholarship, we weren’t able to afford it, so it helps us relax,” said Abdala.
The fund has awarded $150,000 in scholarships since 2016.