A new SDSU program will help City Heights students not only pay for tuition, but also encourage younger students to also attend college. NBC 7 reporter Diana Guevara spoke to Isamaria Cortez, who is one of 15 Price Community Scholars.
A new program at one local college is helping students give back while paying for their tuition.
It's called the Price Community Scholars Program at San Diego State University.
Fifteen incoming freshman from City Heights will receive up to $7,500 towards their tuition for the next 4 years. Students will also mentor middle school students.
“These are high achieving students from the City Heights area. The overall GPA of the students we selected is a 3.87. So this is the top of the crop,” said Wendy Aleman, Assistant Director of Residential Education at SDSU.
17-year-old Isamaria Cortes, a senior at Crawford High School was selected for the program. She plans to major in biology at SDSU and eventually return to City Heights to give back to the community.
“I know that if I want a better future for myself I need an education and the fact that I’m going to college…I’m doing something that nobody in my family has done,” Cortes said.
The program is open to all students, but Aleman said a majority of the applicants were Latino.
SDSU is ranked 11 in the nation for awarding bachelor's degrees to Latinos. The university hopes the program will create a "college-going" culture in City Heights.
"They will be focusing on enhancing fundamental skills, academic skills of the students that they're mentoring and hopefully creating a pathway for higher education for those students,” Aleman said.
“I know I have 10 years of school ahead of me. But I think I could do it. I know that it’s going to help me with my future. I know that I could help a lot of people and that’s really exciting,” Cortes said.
Latinos make up more than 28 percent of SDSU’s undergraduate population.
More than 50 students from both Crawford and Hoover High schools applied for the program.
Diana Guevara covers stories involving San Diego's Latino community. Send her your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.
Find more of her stories in our special section.