2020 Scholarship Winners

In 2020, the Friends of Human Relations again awarded $36,000 to assist eighteen students as they transfer from a community college to a four year college or university and continue on to complete their undergraduate education.

The following  ten students are transferring from community colleges and received scholarships for their junior years:


JENNIFER BERBERIAN is from San Jose, California. She currently resides in San Martin where she lives with her two daughters and their cat. Jennifer has faced some hardships in life, but she refuses to let those hardships define her. Jennifer made the choice to go to college four years ago. Since then, Jennifer has maintained a high GPA and she recently graduated from Gavilan College with an associate degree in liberal arts- behavioral social science. Jennifer has been accepted to California State University Monterey Bay and will start in the Fall. Jennifer’s educational goals are to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services with an emphasis in social work. After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to attend graduate school at CSUMB to obtain a master’s degree in social work. When Jennifer finishes college she would like to work as a social worker in the field of family and children’s services, and eventually she would like to be a family therapist.


ABDALLAH HADDAD was born in New Dehli, India, and moved to America at a young age with dreams of becoming a pilot. While that dream never took off, he worked hard to support his family through poverty, eventually returning to college at 25 and is now attending San Jose State University with a major in Business Analytics and a passion for helping other workers in poverty attain stability and success with communal support across Silicon Valley.


LORI HAYES was born in Amarillo, Texas. She was raised in Hollister, California. At the age of twenty she was a single mother, and was diagnosed with an abdominal aneurysm. After she nearly lost her life, she was more motivated than ever to pursue her education and earn her degree. She is graduating from Gavilan Community College and transferring to California State University Fresno. She will be studying Health Science Administration and her career goal is to become a Hospital Department Manager.


CHELSIE MARTINEZ was born in San Jose, California. Throughout her academic career, she has had to adapt to her learning disability by receiving help with educational resources. It was very hard for her to receive accommodations at first because her parents are undocumented and many did not want to help them or give them resources. This is where Chelsie learned to advocate for herself because she saw the injustice and inhuman treatment her parents were receiving. She volunteered in the program Peer Court with the Santa Clara County Probation Department where she learned to advocate for juveniles in giving them restorative justice to return back into the community. She also volunteered for the Student Equity and Success Committee at Mission College where Chelsie advocated for student help, equity, and resources. Chelsie has had the honor to graduate from Mission College with 5 degrees and will now be attending her dream school, Santa Clara University. She will be majoring in political science and working with the university to transfer into the Santa Clara University School of Law. Chelsie plans on becoming a lawyer where she wishes to advocate for those who the system has treated unfairly.


ESTEFANY MEZA was born and raised in San Jose, CA. She was raised by hardworking immigrant parents and is the oldest child of four. As a first-generation college student, she faced several financial barriers to pursuing higher education. While at San José City College, she participated in the Pathway to Law School Program and the Honors Program and received an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) in Political Science. For the past two years in college, she has been an active volunteer in her community as well as an immigration intern at a non-profit organization in East San Jose. Her career goal is to become an attorney because as a current immigration intern she found how vital it is to support those who may find it difficult to receive equal opportunities within the legal system. Estefany will attend Santa Clara University where she will major in Political Science.


PETER PHAM, born and raised in San Jose, CA, is a proud community college transfer student interested in the intersection of the environment, public policy, and health to serve his community. Despite being a working low-income student and caregiver, he finds time to direct this desire to help his community by fighting for better bus services in his county to offset regional emissions, improve traffic congestion and air quality, and increase access to opportunities and resources for the roughly 2 million residents of Silicon Valley. He serves as co-lead of the San Jose Youth Climate Action Team, who helped organize the 2019 September Climate Strike and pass “reach codes” in San Jose, and mentors youths to be transformational climate leaders. In his free time, Peter enjoys learning languages and chatting with friends over boba. He will be transferring from De Anza College to UC Berkeley as a public health major. In the future, he hopes to become a public health physician and government official.


MIGUEL LIRA ROMO was born in Leon, Guanajuato from Mexico. Determined to escape the poor living conditions and fight for a brighter future, his parents, along with himself, immigrated to the United States regardless of the circumstances ahead. Raised in the city of San Jose of California, Miguel, along with his family faced various socioeconomic and personal challenges. Determined to break the chains of struggle, Miguel was driven to become successful throughout his academic journey. After high school, Miguel went to De Anza College to pursue political science and become involved in community organizing. He has worked with various organizations that are committed to fight for immigrant rights and justice such as SIREN, HEFAS and currently with Human Agenda. After two years at De Anza College, Miguel will be transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz. In the long term, Miguel plans to be a committed organizer and entrepreneur for his community. In addition, Miguel plans to go to law school and become an immigration attorney in order to fight for the needs of the community.


JORDANE ROBARGE was born and raised in Morgan Hill CA. She is a single mother who decided to return to Gavilan College after an absence of three-years in order to provide a stable future for her child and herself. Jordane is a peer mentor at Gavilan College who enjoys helping students transition to college and reach their full potential. She is also a person in long-term recovery who aspires to be a role model for her young son. She volunteers at Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services where she speaks with expectant mothers struggling with substance abuse. She was accepted to CSU Monterey Bay, San Jose State, and UC Santa Cruz. Jordane has committed to UC Santa Cruz and is expected to graduate in 2022 with a BA in sociology. She will then transition into a graduate program, possibly social work.


JOHNSON TRAN was born in Phoenix, Arizona but has lived in San Jose all his life. Coming from a dysfunctional home where abuse, addiction, and neglect were prominent, Johnson had to learn to be resourceful in order to survive. Working two jobs through high school and dropping out for a term made his goal of university seem like a distant dream. Through the struggles, he found his passion through public service and was able to create a support network he never had at home. With this support, he made education a top priority. Now, as a graduate of San Jose City College, he will be transferring to UC Berkeley, majoring in media studies. With his passion for communication and the social behavioral sciences, he plans to become a leading marketer to help both the public and private sector maximize their potential to connect resources to those in need. Determined to help young people with similar backgrounds, Johnson plans to inspire others to get involved in the community and start a scholarship of his own one day.


VIRGINIA VARELA was born and raised in San Jose, California. She experienced many challenges throughout her life but did not want to lose sight of her dream. After having to drop out of college because of a violent relationship, her dreams of college and pursuing her passion began fading away. Many years later and after having four children she made the decision to return to college with her dream still in mind. Only this time she returned with a greater passion and motivation. She has become a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Santa Clara County, works part-time at Stanford Hospital, and is a first-generation college student. She is motivated more than ever to prove her success after having to deal with so many obstacles. Virginia graduated from Mission College and will continue her education at San Jose State University. Majoring in Sociology she will be able to give back to the community and be a voice to the voiceless. She plans on becoming a social worker.

The following eight students received second year scholarships in June 2020 for their senior year of college:


ELLY GRACE HUDSON has been very active in Theater production and was inducted into the International Thespian Society. Elly has served as a senator on the Outreach committee in the Associated Student Government at West Valley College. She was a volunteer for the Campus Club in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, and she lead a project teaching female empowerment in Cambodia. She also worked on a bond issue to provide resources to her community college. Elly is attending UC Berkeley and plans to get a Political Science Degree and continue her commitment to Social Justice.


DELIA MAGANA graduated from high school as a teen parent. As a volunteer at her child’s school, she organized new school activities, new practices and improved parent and community involvement that truly brought change to that school. Though she has had many obstacles to overcome, she went back to school and received her AA at San Jose City College. She is attending San Jose State, majoring in Sociology. Delia’s goal is to become a social worker and help those in need.


BETELIHEM MEHARY was born in California, but her parents were from Eritrea. It was after visiting Eritrea that she realized that many people were suffering from health conditions that were not being addressed. She began to volunteer at local clinics, at Highland Hospital in Oakland, and gave health awareness presentations. She was also Vice President of the Black student union. Betelihem is attending UCLA and plans to enter the health field to particularly help underdeveloped countries to receive better healthcare.


SABRINA RIVAS was a child raised by a Spanish-only speaking single mother. She is the first of her generation pursuing a higher education. She was an intern at the Stanford Summer Pre-Med Program, and a member of the UC Santa Cruz Team Building and Leadership Program. Sabrina has also been President of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano /Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) where she conducted tours, set up a leadership camp, as well as many other activities. Sabrina’s goals are to obtain a doctorate degree and become a medical doctor. She plans to volunteer with Doctor’s Without Borders in impoverished countries.


DYLAN SANCHEZ, who grew up in an immigrant family struggling with financial and other adversities, has always wanted to be part of activism supporting marginalized groups. While at De Anza College, through the organization called VIDA, he became involved with the Renters’ Rights Project. He volunteered with HEFAS, an organization which provides services and support for undocumented students on campus. He also helped on an election campaign during the mid-term election. Dylan is attending San Jose State and majoring in Political Science.


DIANA URIAS and her younger brother lived with their parents in San Jose, California until the age of nine, when her father was deported. Diana spent the next several years in the Foster Care System and the Juvenile Justice System. After completing probation, the judge offered her an opportunity to change her life; a paid internship to mentor with the National Compadres Network to support other youth navigating through the Justice System. Diana is attending UC Berkeley and plans to become a community college counselor.


JUAN RAFAEL DE LA CRUZ VARELA, the oldest of five children, came to the US with his family when he was two and a half years old. Juan worked full time for four years while attending San Jose City College, where he became a member of SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) The purpose of the club is to unite underrepresented STEM students to support and keep them motivated emotionally, professionally, and financially. Juan hosted a Dreamers Conference in 2019 and 2019 and was a panelist in the STEM session. He was also an intern with the Experiential Leadership Internship program at UC Santa Cruz, as well as a tutor and chemistry lab assistant. Juan is attending UC Merced, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.


ELIZABETH WILLIAMS was born in San Jose as one of triplets. She was a top student in elementary and middle school. However, at fourteen years old, her very close friend was murdered and her life changed. She could no longer concentrate at school and eventually dropped out. After receiving professional help, she was able to get her high school diploma and enroll at Gavilan College where she became a life time member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and founded a nationally recognized chapter named Active Minds at Gavilan College. This chapter is dedicated to changing the conversation about mental health by reducing stigma through advocacy and education. Elizabeth is attending UC Santa Cruz to pursue a PhD in Psychology while continuing her commitment and leadership in Santa Cruz.



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