For each generation, the promise of a better world rests in the future of its children. Hope for a life of new opportunity, the chance to rise above limitations experienced by previous generations; these are universal human aspirations for the young.
In America, education is at the pinnacle of said aspirations, enabling the future generation to find a path to a better life, a more peaceful and just world. America has made it clear to the rest of the world that education is the great leveler, an equalizer for any society. It is the foundation of the common expression, “You can achieve anything if you put your mind to the task and work hard for your goal.” With an education, one’s chances of success are exponentially increased.
Fittingly, as the season of graduation marks a rite of passage for young people advancing in life, there are plenty of joyful tears flowing as parents and grandparents witness ceremonies, all hoping for and thinking the same wishful thoughts.
Those tears of absolute joy were evident in one ceremony that unfolded in the grand ballroom of the Balboa Bay Resort. Some 200 family members, teachers, administrators, Newport Beach dignitaries and friends-at-large joined together to celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of Newport-Mesa Unified graduating seniors who were receiving the annual Balboa Bay Club Scholarships.
For the past two decades the BBC has awarded college grants to local students nominated by four high schools: Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Estancia and Newport Harbor. This year, $120,000 in grants of various denominations went to 24 students. The cumulative total of grants to date from the BBC tops $1.7 million, making scholarships a significant avenue of support for local students facing the often-overwhelming expense of higher education.
BBC general manager Leticia Rice served as mistress of ceremonies, welcoming the students and their families.
“I hope that the program tonight will inspire you,” she told the students.
She was proven correct as each student accepted their scholarship, presented to them by John Wortmann, chairman of the Balboa Bay Club’s board of governors. Wortmann, who has presided over the program for many seasons, was the superb ambassador of “hope,” recounting and praising each award winner with sincerity.
“These are not awards, rather they are earned recognition for hard work and commitment from each student,” he said.
Recognizing the dedicated BBC judges joining Wortmann in the selection process were Catherine Thyen, Devon Martin, Char Armstrong, Noel Hamilton, Heather Dickerson and Leticia Rice. They all stood, taking in the applause.
“Each judge spent considerable time meeting personally with all of the nominated students, taking notes, interviewing and making certain that each individual received a fair and equal chance,” Wortmann added.
The accomplishments of the students were impressive. Among the honorees, most held 4.0 GPAs; one had a 4.5 weighted GPA. There were class presidents, stand-out athletes, Advanced Placement scholars, youth leaders and a musician who has played Carnegie Hall nine times. The students will attend UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, New York University, Duke, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Chapman University, among other schools.
Perhaps most impressive was the focus of each student in describing their goals with humility, including sincere appreciation for family and teacher support. Among the ambitious goals expressed was a desire to change the way math is taught in public schools. Others expressed the ambition to become surgeons, aerospace engineers, a geophysicist, a journalist and writer, a politician and a member of the CIA.
The emotional energy could be felt in the ballroom, beginning with a cocktail reception and buffet dinner selections produced by Aaron Trent and Melanie Hertrick and courtesy of hotel/club ownership from the Pickup and Martin families, also major donors to the scholarship fund. Additional dollars are raised all year from BBC members, including the men supporting the “Gentlemen’s Smoker” and the ladies supporting the “1221 Club,” along with other donations from both private and business sources believing in giving these students a leg up on their journey.
The 2019 Balboa Bay Club Scholars are:
Costa Mesa High School: Kevin Cortez, Ethan Gay, Emma Erskine, Han Nguyen, Amber Lee and Samantha Filner.
Corona del Mar High School: Angela Pham, Grant Glessing, Jacob Krantz, Hailey Glenn, Bridgid Kennelly and Alex Kermani.
Estancia High School: Cosette Terriquez, Victor Jacinto, Ulises Abundis, Natalie Hutchinson, Jake Alai and Jennifer Neri.
Newport Harbor High School: Stephanie Correa, Scott Mais, Jose Ortiz, Alina Aguirre, Mia Matsunami and Brian Bailey.
B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.