Jeremiah Medina, Class of 2016

Scholarship Recipient Jeremiah Medina

My name is Jeremiah Medina, and I am currently a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. I’ve lived in Southern California’s Inland Empire my whole life, mainly in the small town of Grand Terrace. 

I attended public school and graduated from Colton High School in San Bernardino County. There was a stark contrast in my high school between the expectations and support of our teachers versus our guidance counselors and administrators. Given the predominantly low-income status of our high school and community, the very resources in place to guide me and my peers towards higher education were actually lowering our aspirations from pursuing our dreams to simply graduating. This led to many counselors being ill-equipped to help students prepare for and apply to colleges. For example, I was told by my counselor that a low grade in a core biology class would not affect my eligibility to most universities, when in reality it nearly cost me acceptance to each school I had applied to. As disconcerting as these experiences were, the support of my teachers and family was enough to help me qualify for and get accepted to several universities.

I applied to CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Chico, and the University of California San Diego, choosing only local state schools for their lower tuition rates, and I eventually accepted an offer at CSU Chico as I was excited to live outside of Southern California. Even though this was my best financial aid option at the time, I found myself having to work almost twenty hours a week to pay for housing, all while acclimating to college in severely overcrowded classes. Before the end of my first year I could see what I would need to make it through college, and my current school simply couldn’t offer that to me. 

I began looking into smaller, private universities back in Southern California, and with the help of a friend who attended USD at the time, I was introduced to the University of San Diego. It didn’t take long for me to see that USD had everything I was looking for in a university and more. Its small class sizes and approachable professors were a dream come true after my previous experience. After being 1 of 17,000 students on a campus four times larger, I was pleasantly surprised at just how welcoming USD's small campus community turned out to be. Most importantly though was this simple fact: by all logic, a university as beautiful and impressive as USD would not be an option for a student in my financial position. Despite this barrier, since the day of my acceptance, the University of San Diego has been willing and able to ensure that I would not need to worry about affording an education when that education itself would be stressful enough. Financial aid has been a bit of a roller coaster all throughout my undergraduate career, but USD and its generous benefactors have always been there to help in times of need, such as now.

It has been over three years now that I’ve been at the University of San Diego, and the experience has been the best of my life. I’ve made many great friends in and out of the School of Engineering, and I can honestly say these people have helped shape me into a better version of who I had hoped to be. In addition to a top-notch education, the School of Engineering and my professors have provided me with amazing professional opportunities. I’ve participated in novel multidisciplinary research alongside students and faculty, and have even been fortunate enough to take part in a humanitarian engineering project in the Dominican Republic that will have a lasting impact with distant communities, all within the span of my undergraduate career.

In the past year alone I have experienced so much that has made me reconsider what I am to do with my degree in Mechanical Engineering. The opportunities that made my college education possible have made it my responsibility to pursue that education to the best of my abilities. In the same respect, I believe the knowledge I’ve been given in the course of my undergraduate education now leaves me with the responsibility to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits far more than just myself. After I graduate from the University of San Diego I intend to pursue a career in humanitarian and environmental engineering with international organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, using appropriate technologies to improve and sustain the well-being of both people and environments in need.

If it weren’t for help from scholarships and financial aid, I am absolutely certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor would my experience these past four years be the same. USD’s Financial Aid Office has been unbelievably helpful year after year, always helping me to meet costs of tuition and to remain living in San Diego with its reasonable student work-study program.  With requirements for state need-based student aid tightening each year, the security of my education has been more precarious this year than ever before. This donation from the Bridges Academy has been truly vital in ensuring that I can achieve my degree. I can’t express my gratitude enough, thank you all.