Cox Charities Surprises 20 Deserving High School Seniors in Honor of Foundation’s 20th Anniversary

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – June 11, 2019 – It was a morning of anticipation as Cox Charities hosted its annual Cox Scholars celebration at Coasterra Restaurant on June 6, 2019. The high school seniors knew they were going to receive a scholarship to help defray college costs, but they didn’t know how much. With more than 150 guests in attendance for the celebration – educators, the scholars and their families, nonprofit partners, community leaders, and Cox employees – the college-bound students learned they’d each receive $5,000 to support their education.

This year, in celebration of its 20th anniversary, Cox Charities awarded a total of $100,000 in scholarships to 20 students, the largest amount ever awarded in scholarships by the foundation. Cox Charities is the the philanthropic arm of Cox Communications and is funded by employee donations, matched by Cox, and overseen by an advisory board consisting of employees who volunteer their time. The scholarship increase is just one of Cox Charities’ “20 Acts of Kindness” for this year’s anniversary in the markets it serves as previously announced earlier this year, going above and beyond the community support efforts they commit to annually.

When Cox Charities was established in San Diego in 1999, a scholarship program was created to help local youth in their quest for a higher education, particularly those who stayed focused on their education despite facing adversity in their young lives; previous scholarship recipients have faced losing a parent, fighting a life-threatening illness, or growing up in poverty. The company’s founder, James M. Cox, was a former school teacher and he left a legacy of supporting education.

Through Cox Charities and the company match, Cox employees in San Diego have awarded $1.6 million in scholarships to more than 650 students.

“Our scholarship program is very important to our employees and has always been a big part of why Cox Charities exists,” said Chanelle Hawken, Vice President, Government and Public Affairs. “This year, Cox Charities celebrates is 20th anniversary and 20 years of employees giving back to the community, which makes these scholarships even more special.”

Funded by employee payroll donations that are matched by the company, Cox Charities provides support to communities in Cox Communications’ service area by awarding scholarships to high school seniors and grants to nonprofit organizations that support youth and families. A diverse volunteer advisory board of Cox employees oversees the foundation and its giving programs.

The Cox Scholars program is open to graduating high school seniors who live in a Cox service area and meet various academic and community service criteria. For more information on the Cox Scholars program, visit

About Cox Communications

Cox Communications is committed to creating meaningful moments of human connection through broadband applications and services. The largest private telecom company in America, we proudly serve six million homes and businesses across 18 states. We’re dedicated to empowering others to build a better future and celebrate diverse products, people, suppliers, communities and the characteristics that makes each one unique. Cox Communications is the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in 1898 by Governor James M. Cox.

Meet the 2019 Cox Scholars

The students were selected based on their academic success, community service, leadership and commitment to their education. The 2019 Cox Scholars for San Diego County are:

Grossmont Union High School District

Spring Valley resident Jeanette Chen attends Monte Vista High School. After a family member was the victim of a financial scam, Jeanette became a student ambassador through the Better Business Bureau, educating students on scams, financial literacy and credit/debit information for high school students. She plans to pursue a career in finance.

Elias Gracia will attend Swarthmore College in the fall to study behavioral economics and be the first in his family to earn a degree from a four-year university. He is passionate about the importance education has on breaking the cycle of poverty and shedding stereotypes. Gracia volunteers on a bus route through the community to help bring people to church free of charge. He currently lives in Lemon Grove and attends Helix Charter High School.

Ian Hurd doesn’t let his challenges with Asperger’s syndrome slow him down from his desire to grow and expand his horizons. Asperger’s makes it harder for the senior from Steele Canyon Charter High School to read social cues and body language or make eye contact, but he has gotten out of his comfort zone and in the community such as volunteering at a food pantry for war refugees and working with children at his church’s Sunday school. Hurd, who lives in El Cajon, will major in physics.

Oceanside Unified School District

Having moved around frequently due to her father’s service in the Marines, Oceanside resident Jamarria Davis has called many places home. A student at Oceanside High School, Jamarria studied sign language and gained a better understanding of the deaf community after learning about speech pathology during a career presentation in her class. She will pursue a career as a speech pathologist.

San Diego Unified School District

Growing up in Kenya, Halimo Farah watched helplessly as her grandmother was deprived of basic medical resources due to inaccessibility. When her family came to the United States, she experienced an advanced health care system and became motivated to pursue a career in medicine. Halimo is graduating from Crawford High School and will pursue a degree in human biology.

Morse High School senior Michael Lumaban has spent his high school years in and out of homelessness, and helping to care for his ill mother and support his family while at times living in their car or hotels. At a young age, Michael had to help his disabled mother with her medicine. Job shadowing a family friend motivated him to pursue a career as a pharmacist to help others with their healthcare needs.

Bao Tram Nguyen from Preuss School UCSD will major in kinesiology to become a physical therapist and help injured athletes. She decided on her career path after being captain of her basketball team, playing with a torn ACL and helping her coach run drills and plays. When she was in second grade, her mother passed away, leaving her father to care for three young children. As the eldest sibling, Bao felt a responsibility to her sisters. The family had immigrated from Vietnam with little understanding of English. She credits her involvement in the Reality Changers program with helping her develop into a strong candidate for college.

When she majors in business, Crawford High School senior Lyaina Nguyen will be the first person in her family to go to college. A first-generation Vietnamese-American, she has a passion for creating, innovating and becoming an entrepreneur. She currently has two mentors who own their own business in the food industry, which has enabled her to gain firsthand experience in marketing, customer service and management.

Andrew Patriquin from High Tech High Media Arts plans to major in Pre-Law and pursue a career as a criminal law attorney or another field of law that serves people directly. He decided on this path after his junior year internship with a prominent San Diego criminal law attorney where he got a chance to review video evidence and police reports, prepare legal documents, and accompany his mentor in court. It was an eye-opener for Andrew on defendants’ need for representation.

Since seventh grade, Brooke Rodi from Point Loma High School has been involved in Circle of Friends, a club where students from all grades can eat lunch and play games with students who have disabilites. This year, Brooke was elected president of the club and organized an annual Unity basketball game. She has an interest in marine life and science, as well as history and sports science, and plans to explore different fields in college to better determine her career choice.

When she was younger, Margarita Rodriguez and her mother were told to speak English while they were conversing in Spanish on a bus. That experience began Margarita’s desire to major in public policy or public health and go into elected office or run her own nonprofit organization to help others. The senior from Hoover High School has also dealt with anxiety, which she was diagnosed with in middle school.

Losing her grandfather to cancer when she was in 10th grade devastated Emily Sabory. He couldn’t afford adequate medical care and he lived in Mexico, so she didn’t get to say goodbye to him. The senior from Hoover High School has a goal to become a surgeon to help others in need of medical attention.

Tristin Souvannarath from Lincoln High School plans to pursue mechanical engineering at UCLA and become a design engineer, working in the aerospace or automotive fields for his favorite companies, designing rockets for SpaceX or the Honda Civic of the future. His interest in engineering began when his dad installed SketchUp on the family computer when Tristin was four years old.

Through an internship with Include Autism, LeVan Truong from Hoover High School had an opportunity to mentor autistic children and developed a passion for human development. It also taught her to be more openminded in the diversity of how people interact with the world.

Sweetwater Union High School District

Chula Vista resident Jessie Lee from Otay Ranch High School will pursue a career in engineering or attend medical school in hopes of becoming a pathologist specializing in infectious diseases. When she was seven years old, Jessie received a world map that hung in her room for aesthetics. But once she began exploring the biological, chemical and environmental sciences at school, her map helped her look at the disparities in global health, especially around pathogens that invade healthy organisms. She would like to solve global health and environmental issues.

Jose Martinez, a senior at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, will be putting his favorite subject (math) to use when he pursues a double major in engineering, specifically aerospace and mechanical engineering. When working on a research paper about aerospace engineering Jose’s lack of educational resources didn’t deter him. He reached out to an engineer from UC San Diego and an engineer at an aerospace company who provided him with additional information and support.

Vanessa Sevilla from Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista will major in global health or neuroscience. She has suffered from depression and her sister has moderate autism, so she wanted to study a field where she could help people and assist others in managing their mental health.

As a young boy, Jedrick Zablan from Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista lost his grandmother and aunt to cancer. The deaths of two of his mother figures led to Jedrick’s interest in the medical field. He will study microbiology in hopes of alleviating and preventing further suffering from diseases. He has two goals – one is to work for a research organization to conduct research on genetics and microbiology, and the other is to work in the Veterans Hospital helping those who made sacrifices for their country.

Vista Unified School District

Oceanside resident Ana Daniela Rojas Gallegos attends Mission Vista High School and will pursue a degree in biology so that she can make an impact in the field of medicine. She has served as the Student Board Representative for her school at Vista Unified School District board meetings, updating the board on school programs, issues and student feedback.

Independent/Private Schools

Spring Valley resident Bridget Braden from Liberty Charter High School will pursue a career in nursing, specifically in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Bridget’s niece and nephew both began their lives in the NICU, so she understands how important the NICU can be to newborns and their ability survive.

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