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Determination and Hard-Earned Success Are Key Themes Among PG&E’s 2017 STEM Scholarship Winners

07/05/2017

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Civil war, illness and poverty are just some of the challenges that many of the recipients of PG&E’s 2017 Better Together STEM Scholarship winners have overcome. And despite these challenges, they have excelled academically and become avid community stewards. Take for instance, Prabhjot Singh.

Prabhjot Singh spent the early years of his childhood working shoulder to shoulder with his family in the lime-green wheat and rice fields of India. He never dreamed that he would have the opportunity to attend college. Now, a decade later and already a lifetime of trial and triumph to his name, Singh will be attending the University of California, Los Angeles with a PG&E Better Together STEM Scholarship in hand.

“I felt many emotions when I learned that I had won the PG&E Better Together scholarship. I felt happy, honored, proud, but most of all, I felt relieved. I’m so relieved that this scholarship will enable me to fully devote my time and attention to my education in order to attain my academic goals without worrying about my financial strains,” said Singh.

Singh is one of 20 outstanding students from Central and Northern California receiving this year’s Better Together STEM Scholarships. In total, PG&E is investing $400,000 in these students’ futures. The scholarships, worth up to $5,000 a year and renewable for four years, lift a financial burden off the students and their families.

“PG&E is investing in promising students today because they will be the dreamers, innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Our educational programs are focused on building the next generation energy workforce. In addition to providing financial support, we’re exposing these students to potential career paths through internship and networking opportunities,” said Travis Kiyota, vice president of California external affairs for PG&E.

Overcoming adversity

Each PG&E scholar has surmounted daunting challenges, from poverty to illness to breaking through language barriers. Two examples:

San Mateo student Sethmi Kachchakaduge was born into the Sri Lankan civil war, and in 2004 her family’s home had been destroyed in the tsunami. In 2006, she immigrated with her family to the United States. In between studying, competing in robotics competitions and helping her parents file their taxes, she created a free music camp for students who couldn’t afford lessons. “No words can describe the gratitude I have for PG&E's kindness and support towards my education. I have always been grateful for the opportunities I have received since coming to America but this is truly an unbelievable gift,” she said. Kachchakaduge will enter her freshman year at University of California at Davis in the fall.

Isiah Foster had always dreamed of being the first in his family to attend college. Growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Oakland, he knew the road would not be easy. Losing a cousin to a senseless act of violence only made him more determined to turn his dream into a reality and to fight back against the violence around him by serving as a youth leader for six years with Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere (S.A.V.E.). Foster is now pursuing a degree in Computer Science at Sacramento State University.

Community stewards

PG&E’s Better Together STEM Scholars were selected from more than 1,000 applicants. They were chosen based on academics and financial need, as well as their ability to overcome adversity and contributions to their communities. Here’s Jenny Chiao’s story:

Jenny Chiao’s ambition is to “help reduce negative consequences to the earth, and to facilitate positive influences for others to follow.” As a tutor and president of her school’s Science and Engineering club, the Santa Maria student coordinated luncheons to give her classmates opportunities to network with STEM professionals and learn how to present themselves professionally.

Stellar academics

A hallmark of a PG&E scholar is a relentless pursuit of education. Despite a myriad of challenges and obstacles, all PG&E scholars have achieved, and continue to achieve, great success in their academic careers. Two examples:

Fresno student Lorne Briones is a self-described “technology geek with a knack and passion for creating things.” The first in his family to go to college, Briones works four jobs to pay for school. Despite the heavy workload, he has consistently made the Dean’s List and has secured a 10-week internship at NASA. “This scholarship is going to help me be the best student that I can be,” he said.

Priscilla Lui from San Jose grew up repairing broken electronics and unclogging sink pipes to help her dad, who despite only having one arm, had a knack for fixing things. As the first and only female member of her high school Robotics Team, she overcame her initial self-doubt to serve as the Team Capitan. When she noticed the lack of resources for students preparing for the SAT, she founded an SAT Club to provide self-made lessons, presentations and personalized study plans to low-income students. “I am beyond grateful to PG&E for selecting me as a recipient of this scholarship. It will enable me to dedicate 100 percent of my efforts to doing well in school, rather than worrying about the cost,” she said.

Since the program’s inception in 2012, the PG&E Better Together Scholarship program has committed more than $4 million in scholarships to students throughout Northern and Central California. PG&E has a long history of supporting local educational initiatives, providing nearly $80 million over the last decade.

For individual interview requests with a PG&E scholar, please reach out to Hailey Wilson (hxwj@pge.com). Direct quotes and photos of scholarship winners can also be provided upon request.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Hailey Wilson, 415-973-5930

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