Evangelina Petinos, Class of 2011

I come from a family with a rich Greek cultural heritage that has shaped my identity, preparing me for a world full of adversity and challenge. I was raised in Vista, California and attended Vista High School. During my senior year of high school I did not have the intention of applying to a four-year university. I had anticipated following the path of my older sisters to first attend a community college and then transfer to a university. The reasons for taking this path were simple: it was more cost-effective. We knew that the income our parents' small-restaurant business generated was not enough to send any of us directly to a university. My sister, however, sat me down in early November of 2007 and said “You cannot let our family’s low income keep you from applying to college. Take the opportunity and apply.” Obviously, I followed her advice and she is the reason I am here today.

I applied to USD, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, and Cal State East Bay. I needed to stay in California to receive federal & state grants – for this was my primary means of funding my education. Out of all the colleges I applied to, USD was my first choice. I loved the small class sizes, the proximity to my family, and the beauty of the campus. USD was the only campus I visited and I heard about it from a friend who attended. After my first visit, I knew this was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.

My experience at USD has been more than extraordinary. I have been involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a member and Bible-study leader and STAND, which is an anti-genocide student coalition. We held events on campus to promote awareness of the genocide in Darfur and raised money to send to trustworthy organizations for relief funding. I have been very active in the Theatre Arts productions, holding positions from sound board operator, assistant scenic designer, and stage manager. I have also taken full advantage of USD’s study abroad programs and have participated in the 3-week summer in Turin, Italy and the 4-month semester with Semester at Sea, living on a ship – sailing and visiting 10 countries, while completing 12 academic units. Next June, I also plan to attend the 3-week program to Falmouth, Jamaica.

In May, I will be graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. My career goals have been highly influenced by my study abroad. I aspire to become a Teacher of English to Students of Other Languages, to travel abroad, increase my global awareness, and exercise my human responsibility to serve. I have applied for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to be an aid to an English teacher in Thailand and have also applied to graduate school. I am hoping to attain a Masters degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California and participate in their Peace Corps Masters International Program, which will combine my graduate work with two years of service abroad with the Peace Corps, teaching English.

As a student who financially supports her own higher-education, I heavily rely on scholarships and financial aid. I am eternally grateful to the organizations that have supported me throughout my undergraduate career and realize that I would not have been able to accomplish half of what I have without the funding from outside programs. Because of the support of my donors, I will be the first in my family to have gone directly from high school to a four-year university. The support from others who acknowledge my scholastic performance and financial need, have inspired me to continue my education, making me believe that my goals are worthy of recognition. I have immense appreciation to the donors of the Bridges Academy Scholarship Endowment and their desire to contribute to my educational endeavors. As genuine and heartfelt as a thank you can be – Thank you!