My name is Joseph Pedraza and I am a Mexican-American student from Florida. My family has had our share of financial difficulties, but during my high school years, life became even more challenging. My father was severely injured while working on a construction site and was then diagnosed with stage-four kidney disease. Additionally, my sister was involved in a head-on collision where she broke her back and injured her spine. While we focused our time, energy, and finances on my sister’s recovery, my father’s health has continued to decline. As a result of these struggles, my family and I were forced to move into a small camper on my grandparents’ property. Even though our living situation was not ideal, it allowed me to spend a significant amount of time with my dad and grandparents - immersed in my Mexican heritage. Despite the obvious disadvantages, I was able to learn countless lessons from the stories they told of my family picking fruits and vegetables as migrant workers.
I have always known that a scholarship is vital if I want to attend a good college, which is why I have worked hard to maintain a perfect GPA. I have also been motivated by my ceaseless curiosity in science. My particular love for physics and computer science made me want to share my passions with others, prompting me to start physics and computer science clubs at my school. These interests also led me towards a wonderful opportunity called Eagle’s Nest. I was able to build a two-seat, single-engine RV-12 airplane through a program offered at my school and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Additionally, I was selected to study radar theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last summer. These programs have shown me I want to study engineering in an intellectually challenging environment, which is why I have decided to attend the University of Southern California for Aerospace Engineering this fall. My long-term goal is to work on a design team at SpaceX or a similar company.
Where the money is going:
I have received scholarships from the University of Southern California, but not enough to cover the entire cost of attendance. Any financial help I receive will remove the constant fear of having to leave school because of an inability to pay. My goal of $50,000 will meet all of the remaining costs for the four years I plan to spend in school including tuition and room and board. The funds raised here will be overseen by a family friend with a background in banking.
Thank you for your time,
- Alenah Riffle
- Nancy Carr
- Kelly Garcia
- Alan Salerno
- Pam Weech
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