At San Jose State University’s frosh orientation on July 16, Azusena Reyes said her heart started beating faster when the words San Jose Earthquakes Spartan East Side Promise Scholarship flashed across the screen during the welcome session.
“When I heard my name called, I was so shocked,” said the Mt. Pleasant High School graduate who will be attending SJSU in the fall. “The first thing I wanted to do was tell my mom and dad I won. It is more for them –to tell them I made it and that my accomplishments are because of my parents.”
Her parents were in on the surprise and had been notified a couple of weeks before by SJSU’s Financial Aid Office. They kept quiet, and Reyes experienced excitement and lots of emotions when her name was called.
“Having the opportunity to attend SJSU on a full scholarship for the first year is an amazing gift, to say the least,” she said. “I promise to use this opportunity in a profound way and pay tribute to those involved with the scholarship by committing myself to maintaining a high GPA while making a difference within the SJSU community.”
She learned about the Earthquakes scholarship, from Amanda Aldama, SJSU admissions counselor/recruiter-Spartan East Side Promise (SESP) coordinator. Through a variety of interactive workshops, events, and programming, SESP provides a pathway to admission at SJSU, and strives to prepare students and their families for the college academic expectations, by connecting students to campus resources prior to the start of their freshman year. The SESP also offers guaranteed admission to eligible students who graduate from a high school in the district. Through this partnership, the San Jose Earthquakes Spartan East Side Promise Scholarship provides one student admitted through the SESP special admissions program with funding for their first year of tuition and on-campus housing.
Reyes said her parents both immigrated to the San Jose area from Oaxaca, Mexico. She was born in east San Jose and watched her parents work hard to provide new opportunities for her and her brother. Her mother didn’t speak English but learned so she could get a job as a paraeducator and become a U.S. citizen. Her father worked two jobs as a landscaper.
“They came from one of the poorest states in Mexico and established a home and careers,” Reyes said. “I saw the endurance it took them. They inspired me to develop leadership and learn from their hardships.”
Reyes, who is an avid San Jose Earthquake fan, said she had visited the SJSU campus since she entered high school on field trips with her Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) club.
“The campus feels like a community and there is a lot of diversity,” she said. “There are so many students from different walks of life.”
She noted the sculptures and murals on campus that celebrate human rights activists, such as Cesar Chavez.
Reyes plans to be a software engineering major and first got interested in the field when she attended a Girls Who Code program her junior year. She spent six weeks at Facebook headquarters learning about computer science.
“I am interested in helping to close the gender gap in technology,” she said.”
This summer, she is getting a head start on her studies as part of Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) program at San Jose State University. The students selected for the three-week challenge are part of SJSU’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program.
“I’m learning a lot of material, including python and java,” she said. “For the last week we will visit Google to help us with our final project. This program teaches and improves our coding skills as well as networking.”