Fifteen graduating high school seniors from East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park and Redwood City will pick up $12,000 scholarships and new mentors Saturday in a ceremony organized by the Peninsula College Fund.
Author and Santa Clara University professor Francisco Jiminez will address the scholarship winners, who are among the first in their families to go to college.
"These are first-generation college students who have strong academic performance, a record of community service and severe financial need, yet are often overlooked by other scholarship programs," said Peninsula College Fund founder Charles Schmuck of Menlo Park.
"Most impressively, they have succeeded in high school despite significant economic and personal challenges unknown to most of us in the affluent Bay Area."
The 15 graduates join a group of 52 others who have received support since Peninsula College Fund was founded six years ago, Schmuck said. Of that number, all but one are in school full-time or have graduated, he said.
In addition to the money, each student will get "an individual mentor, extensive training as well as assistance in securing summer jobs and internships throughout his or her college years," he said.
From the independent Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, honorees this year are Bryan Duenas (Occidental College); Izamar Moya (Connecticut College); Roshana Smith (Mt. Holyoke College) and Ashley Washington (San Francisco State University).
From the Stanford University-run charter school East Palo Alto Academy, they are Dalia Angel (San Jose State University) and Karina Lira (University of California at Santa Barbara).
From Menlo-Atherton High School they are Erica Balderrama (University of California at Merced and Liliana Guillen (Foothill College).
From Woodside High School they are Ruby Gonzales (Notre Dame de Namur University); Patricia Peraza (College of San Mateo) and Keneisha Perry (California State University at Chico).
From Sequoia High School they are Jessica Esquivel (Santa Clara University) and Sefora Rios (San Jose State University).
From Summit Prep, a charter school in Redwood City, awardees are Nazareth Diaz (California Polytechnic Institute at Pomona) and Eric Ramirez (California State University at Northridge).
The graduates -- along with five Peninsula College Fund scholars who recently graduated from college -- will be honored at the Saturday ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m. at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton.