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UCSC Pister Scholarship

Since 1993 UCSC Pister Scholarship has recognized outstanding Hartnell College Transfer Students

Beginning back in 1993, University of California, Santa Cruz began supporting outstanding community college transfer students by providing $10,000 scholarships for each of two years, a strong academic mentoring program and summer work experience opportunities. Over the years, Hartnell College has nominated exceptional students for the scholarship awards.


The recipients of the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Awards Program Scholarships from Hartnell College are:

  • 1993-Virginia Alvarado
  • 1994-Luz Garcia
  • 1995-Thu Duong
  • 1996-Lucio Garcia
  • 1997-Maria Villagomez
  • 1998-Funmilayo Oyewale
  • 2000-Jorge Mendez
  • 2001-Sonia Rivera
  • 2002-Naomi Nobida
  • 2004-Jorge Gonzales
  • 2022- Rosa Sanchez


UCSC Pister ScholarshipMaria Villagomez, recipient of the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award in 1997, is a graduate of King City High School, Hartnell College and University of California Santa Cruz. She is the daughter of Angel and Maria Villagomez of Greenfield, in southern Monterey County. She is one of nine children. Maria credits her parents for urging her to attend college and continue her education.

“My parents have always been very supportive of my education. My three brothers are teachers and two of my sisters are teachers’ aides,” Maria said. “Everyone in my family urged me to become a teacher and when Gabilan School Principal Trine Rodriguez in Soledad recruited me, I decided to give it a try.” Maria is now teaching 5th grade in a multiple subject classroom. As a bilingual instructor in a Sheltered English Instruction classroom, Maria merges Spanish speaking children into instruction in English. She has 29 children in her 5th grade class.

In addition to teaching, Maria continues to take classes at Chapman University.

Jorge Mendez, recipient of the Pister Scholarship in 2000, traveled a long road to reach Hartnell College and UCSC. He immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico as an infant with his mother who was fleeing an abusive husband. Growing up as one of eight children in a non-English speaking single parent household made it difficult for Jorge to dream about going to college someday. Jorge always had a clear direction and decided at a young age that he wanted to work with disadvantaged youth. He wanted to become a counselor who helps young people find a solution to inner city gangs, violence and crime. “I made my decision to become a psychologist while living in Los Angeles-I woke up one morning and realized I was scared to go outside-my frustration and fear had begun to fuel a passion for learning within me,” Jorge said.

Five years after completing high school, after working on a fishing boat in Alaska and living and working in Arizona and Canada, Jorge Mendez enrolled at Hartnell College. Two years later he earned his Associate Degree with a grade point average of 3.7 and received the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award.

“Starting college at a mature age, I have been able to commit myself fully to my educational and career goals . . . now my appetite for learning feels insatiable,” remarked Jorge Mendez. He shares his enthusiasm for education with his nephews-and with his support, one of his nephews began classes at Hartnell College.

UCSC Pister ScholarshipSonia Rivera is the 2001 Hartnell College nominee for the Pister Scholarship. She is one of nine children and has lived in Salinas all her life. A graduate of Alisal High School, Sonia has maintained a 3.9 grade point average while attending Hartnell. “My entire family encouraged me to continue my education beyond high school,” Sonia explained. “Three of my sisters graduated from UC Santa Cruz-one is a social worker, another is an employment training counselor, and my other sister has a Master’s Degree in Spanish. I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” she explained.

“I want to thank Hartnell Counselor Maria Castillo for all her support,” Sonia said. “She encouraged me and kept me on track heading toward the goal of entering UC Santa Cruz. I am thrilled with my nomination and I’m looking forward to being independent, meeting new people and having new classes,” Sonia remarked.

While at Hartnell College, Sonia was involved with Mini Corps, a state funded program that employs low income students from migrant backgrounds who are interested in becoming teachers. She plans to continue this involvement while at UC Santa Cruz and to explore possible majors in sociology and education.

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