Just weeks after Clovis North graduate Sarah Jackson visited her dream school, New York University, she was able to breathe a big sigh of relief.
The 17-year-old opened her email on May 13 and learned she had been awarded a $100,000 scholarship that will be doled out to her in $25,000 increments over the next four years. The donor is Ronald McDonald House Charities/Hispanic American Commitment to Education Resources, funded by Hispanic McDonald’s owner-operators.
“When I opened the email, it was Friday the 13th and the first thing I saw was, ‘Congratulations,’ ” she said. “I told my parents and we were just shocked for quite a while. It was probably the best Friday the 13th I’ve ever had.”
Jackson, a lifelong Fresno resident, was one of five students nationwide chosen for the $100,000 RMHC/HACER national scholarship and the only one selected from the central San Joaquin Valley in the scholarship’s eight-year history, said Marisa Wheelock, a spokeswoman for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley.
When I opened the email, it was Friday the 13th and the first thing I saw was, ‘Congratulations.’
Sarah Jackson, winner of $100,000 scholarship
The scholarship was established in 1985 by a McDonald’s owner-operator and former educator, Richard Castro, after he noticed higher dropout rates among Hispanic college students due to financial difficulties. Since then, more than $31 million in national and local scholarships has been awarded to more than 17,800 students.
The application process included an application, essay and interviews, Wheelock said.
Jackson said the scholarship was especially important given the rising cost of higher education.
“It’s honestly such a blessing,” she said. “NYU is a private school and one of the more expensive ones.”
Jackson said she has long been interested in the sciences and has volunteered at Saint Agnes Medical Center for the past four years.
“I like that (science) produces some real tangible effects,” she said. “I mean, we see medicine changing lives everyday.”
Jackson said being a biomedical researcher is her career goal.
“I’m going to study bio-chem, but I think I might add a major to that,” she said. “I’m really interested in English, too.”
In her early-teen years, Jackson said, she had already made moving to New York City one of her goals. Her current personal email account, which was created five years before she first visited the Big Apple, ends with the acronym “NYC.”
“I’ve always loved the city,” she said.
Jackson, who has dreamed of attending NYU for the past four years, also was accepted for admission by various colleges in the University of California system as well as Cornell University.
“(Jackson) was probably one of the best AP students I ever had,” said Linda Linder, who taught Jackson in her mock trial class and Advanced Placement U.S. history. “She definitely was a standout in a lot of different ways.”
Linder said Jackson didn’t fit the the mold of a typical high school student.
“She’s really quite introspective and thoughtful, both in her written and oral communication. She’s almost like a student that should have already been in college when she was in high school.
“I’m not surprised that she decided at a younger age, ‘This is what I want to do,’ ” Linder said. “And that’s what she’s doing.”
She’s really quite introspective and thoughtful, both in her written and oral communication. She’s almost like a student that should have already been in college when she was in high school.
Linda Linder, Clovis North teacher
Since Jackson is the first local recipient of the scholarship, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley has organized a celebration Wednesday with a check presentation for the teenager at the Ronald McDonald House, near Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County.
“When we found out that Sarah was one of the winners, we were extremely excited,” Wheelock said. “We wanted to make as big of a deal out of it for Sarah as we possibly could.”
The celebration will include executives from McDonald’s as well as Jackson’s parents, friends and teachers, Wheelock said.
“I’m really excited to get one of those big checks,” Jackson said.