Jonathan Espinoza, a senior at Segerstrom High School student in Santa Ana, Calif., thanks to Simon Scholars, has received a full scholarship to attend Georgetown University beginning in the fall of 2012.
Espinoza joined the New Port, Calif., based Simon Scholars program during his junior year. Founded by Ron Simon in 2003, the program emphasizes both strong academic performance and personal interaction with students to help them develop the self-confidence, self-esteem and academic advancement to succeed as the next generation of leaders.
The program selects scholars beginning in the junior year of high school and supports them both financially and experientially through their four-year college experience. Since its inception in 2003, the Simon Scholars program has awarded more than $15 million in program services and college scholarships.
Born to a single, teenage parent, and the oldest of six children, Espinoza saw education as a means to rise above the poverty around him.
"Early on, I learned when people put you down, you take those negative words and use it as motivation to prove them wrong," he said. "We are all equal, special in our own way and capable of amazing achievements."
Now the 17-year-old has these impressive accomplishments under his belt: He represented Southern California and Simon Scholars as a key speaker at Colin Powell's Grad Nation Summit 2012 in Washington D.C. where he met the former Secretary of State. He received the Congressional Recognition from Rep. Loretta Sanchez for serving as Santa Ana Youth Commissioner and participating in other volunteer roles in the city. And, of course, the full scholarship to attend Georgetown University.
After collge, Espinoza's plans to to earn an MBA and a law degree as he aims to work for the US Department of Justice. He looks forward to sponsoring Simon Scholars students and showing them the same level encouragement he received.
And he also plans to serve as the first Hispanic president of the United States.
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