Home Industry News Economics CAWG Foundation Awards $36,000 in Student Scholarships

CAWG Foundation Awards $36,000 in Student Scholarships

The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Foundation is proud to announce the awarding of $36,000 in college scholarships to eight deserving students. These scholarships are granted to students whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower.

“Every year, it’s an honor for the CAWG Foundation to grant these scholarships to the children of vineyard employees. Our workforce is the cornerstone of our industry, and these scholarships are a sincere token of our appreciation. The Board was deeply impressed by the ambitions, community involvement, and outstanding qualities exhibited by the scholarship applicants this year,” said Davindar Mahil of Creekside Farming and Chair of the CAWG Foundation Board of Directors.

The CAWG Foundation board selects scholarship recipients who have demonstrated exceptional achievements across multiple domains. These include outstanding academic performance, active participation in extracurricular activities, financial need, and a notable commitment to public service and community involvement. Alongside evaluating academic aptitude, the Board places significant emphasis on qualities such as a strong dedication to community service, a proven record of leadership, and a personal essay that effectively narrates the applicant’s unique journey and aspirations.

Since the program’s inception in 1998, the CAWG Foundation has awarded $639,500 in scholarships, empowering students to pursue higher education. These scholarships are made possible through generous donations from CAWG members and the supportive California wine community.

This year, five four-year scholarships were awarded to students attending either a University of California or California State University campus and three two-year scholarships were awarded to students attending a California community college.

Four-Year University Scholarship Recipients / $8,000 each

Cindy Lopez, Calistoga, Calistoga Junior-Senior High School

Ariatna Navarrete-Gonzalez, Napa, Napa High School

Sierra Stevenson, Fairfield, Angelo Rodriguez High School

Leah Mauritson, Healdsburg, Cardinal Newman High School*

Ross Poletti, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo High School**

Two-Year Community College Scholarship Recipient / $2,000 each

Layla Lopez-Barrera, Petaluma, Casa Grande High School

Miguel Ninche-Sotelo, Kelseyville, Kelseyville High School

Dayana Torres-Gonzalez, Lakeport, Clear Lake High School

*$4,000 Special Award **$2,000 Special Award

About the Recipients

FOUR-YEAR SCHOLARSHIP / $8,000 EACH

Cindy Lopez, Calistoga, Calistoga Junior-Senior High School

Cindy is a dedicated first-generation college student with a passion for the community she grew up in and a goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. During her high school career, Cindy has actively participated in sports, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball, while maintaining an impressive 4.0 GPA. She is academically accomplished and deeply involved in various school organizations such as ACID, S Club, CLARA, Interact, and Upward Bound, all of which strongly emphasize community service and volunteerism. These extracurricular activities have provided Cindy with a profound sense of connection to her community, a source of great joy for her. She looks forward to continuing her involvement in her community after college. Cindy plans to attend either UC Santa Barbara or CSU San Marcos in the fall to pursue her academic and career goals in child development.

Ariatna Navarrete-Gonzalez, Napa, Napa High School

Ariatna is a driven student with a strong commitment to academic excellence and community involvement. Ariatna has taken a rigorous course load at Napa High School while also taking advantage of a dual enrollment opportunity at Napa Valley College, where she has successfully completed numerous college- level courses. Ariatna is a dedicated participant in extracurricular activities, including the California Scholarship Federation, orchestra, drumline, and theater. She is also a member of the tennis and lacrosse teams, showcasing her versatility and teamwork skills. Outside of her school commitments, Ariatna is an active member of the Teens Connect Council, a group that focuses on student mental health awareness. She plans to attend UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, or UC Berkeley to major in Mathematical Biology/Biological Sciences, to become an emergency medicine doctor.

Sierra Stevenson, Fairfield, Angelo Rodriguez High School

Sierra is a natural leader with a passion for education and a drive to make a positive impact on the world. Her love for history and politics has driven her to pursue a career as a district superintendent, where she hopes to advocate for education equality and ensure accurate representation for all. As the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college, Sierra values education deeply. She has worked to maintain an impressive 4.35 GPA. In addition to her academic achievements, Sierra is actively involved in extracurricular activities, including serving as the ASB Treasurer and holding leadership positions in various other school clubs. She also participates in her school’s theater program, showcasing her diverse interests and talents. Sierra’s commitment to education and leadership is evident in all aspects of her life. She plans to continue her education at either UC Los Angeles or UC Irvine, where she will major in Political Science.

Leah Mauritson, Healdsburg, Cardinal Newman High School*

Leah is a driven student with a profound passion for the winegrape industry, a passion cultivated through her hands-on experience working alongside her father in the vineyards. Her career trajectory was shaped by this early exposure, allowing her to gain comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of winegrape cultivation, from tending vines to harvesting. Leah has tackled a range of tasks, from repairing irrigation systems to shoot thinning and grape picking, demonstrating her diverse skill set. Leah actively participates in leadership roles and community projects while maintaining a 4.2 grade point average. Leah plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, majoring in Agricultural Business, and furthering her knowledge and expertise in the field she loves.

Ross Poletti, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo High School**

Growing up surrounded by vineyards, Ross learned the value of hard work from his parents. He approaches challenges with a natural willingness and is known for his responsibility and ability to thrive under pressure.

Ross values the importance of his education and has maintained a 4.1 GPA. His involvement in the San Luis Obispo High School Automotive Club has not only honed his leadership skills but has also provided him with the opportunity to represent his club at the SkillsUSA Automotive Service Technology Competition. As a varsity-level competitive swimmer, Ross has further developed his time-management and leadership abilities, earning recognition as a scholarly athlete. Ross has been accepted to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he will pursue a major in Computer Engineering with the goal of becoming a Network Administrator.

TWO-YEAR SCHOLARSHIP/ $2,000 EACH

Layla Lopez-Barrera, Petaluma, Casa Grande High School

Layla is a committed student who values her family, school, and community. She has been inspired by her parents’ strong work ethic, which has instilled in her a profound understanding of the importance of dedication and perseverance. As a bilingual student, Layla has used her language skills to benefit her school community, serving as a Bilingual Ambassador. In this role, she conducts guided tours for Spanish-speaking families and provides interpretation services as needed. Layla also volunteers weekly at a local elementary school, where she leads a robotics club and helps younger students with coding. Throughout high school, Layla has challenged herself with advanced placement courses to better prepare for college. She plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College with a major in Public Health Sciences, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician.

Miguel Ninche-Sotelo, Kelseyville, Kelseyville High School

Miguel is a dedicated student who has demonstrated a strong work ethic throughout his high school years. His immigrant parents have instilled in him the value of hard work and perseverance. Miguel has spent his summers working to support himself, further emphasizing his commitment to his education and future. Actively involved in the Interact Club, Miguel currently serves as President. The club plays a vital role in helping students fulfill their community service requirements by providing them with various opportunities. Through his involvement, Miguel has developed essential skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and reliability. Miguel plans to attend Mendocino College to pursue a major in Health Science. His career goal is to become an anesthesiologist or pharmacist.

Dayana Torres-Gonzalez, Lakeport, Clear Lake High School

Dayana has had a clear vision from a young age to pursue nursing in college and ultimately become a pediatric nurse. Her innate compassion and love for working with young children have always been driving forces in her life. Dayana has maintained a 4.0 GPA while actively participating in her school community. She is a dedicated member of the Latino Club and the California Scholarship Federation, demonstrating her commitment to both her heritage and academic excellence. Additionally, Dayana has served as a student representative for the Class of 2024 for the past two years, showcasing her leadership skills. Her dedication reflects her determination to succeed and her commitment to her education. In the fall, she plans to attend Mendocino Junior College, where she will continue to pursue nursing and make her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse a reality.

About the California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation

The CAWG Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that awards scholarships to high school seniors whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower. For more information, visit www.cawgfoundation.org.

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