Video Credit: Joseph Foulk, Ernesto Sanchez and Roberto Lazarte Aguilar
At 13, Avey Songco was diagnosed with moderate scoliosis requiring a back brace for three years that was a constant source of pain, irritation and discomfort.
Her best friend, Shavonna Jackson, grew up not understanding why her father regularly stuck himself with needles. She later learned he had Type 2 diabetes.
The two seniors at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science in Carson share an unshakeable bond that even includes stints as Miss Teen Carson — Avey in 2015 and Shavonna last year. And their personal health challenges raised an awareness in each that put them on STEM educational paths and both were recently named 2018 Edison Scholars and the recipients of $40,000 scholarships.
They are two of 30 high school seniors awarded $1.2 million in scholarships from Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, to study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) at a four-year accredited college or university.
Avey will attend Georgia Tech this fall where she will major in industrial engineering and minor in science technology and society. She dreams of becoming an engineer and designing prosthetics to enhance the lives of people with missing limbs.
“My doctor showed me pictures of children with prosthetics and I listened in awe as he explained the prosthetics were designed and made by engineers to enhance the lives of patients,” said Avey, noting the experience had a powerful impact on her decision to study engineering and give back to disadvantaged populations.
“Learning that engineers designed apparatuses made to enrich the lives of others and better society was truly inspiring.”
Financial pathways have opened up for me with this scholarship. I’m so thankful Edison gives this opportunity to low-income and first-generation college students, which I’ll be.
2018 Edison Scholar
Last summer, Shavonna completed a biomedical internship that focused on endocrinology and beta cells at the Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The experience, she said, pushed her to want to learn more about life-changing medical conditions like diabetes.
“I see a need for novel treatments and innovations for diseases that plague our society and I feel drawn to do something about it,” said Shavonna, who plans to major in biomedical engineering at either Yale or Harvard, and like Avey, wants to use her education to make a difference in the world. “I hope to find a way to eradicate them.”
Rachael Hamlet, the academy’s college counselor, said the $40,000 scholarships will go a long way in helping both Avey’s and Shavonna’s families pay for their college educations.
“Both Avey and Shavonna are the perfect representation of what CAMS is all about,” she said. “They are so deserving and Edison International has just lifted such a large amount of financial stress from these families, so we are eternally grateful.”
“Financial pathways have opened up for me with this scholarship,” said Avey. “I’m so thankful Edison gives this opportunity to low-income and first-generation college students, which I’ll be.”
As the BFFs prepare for new chapters in their lives, they don’t intend to let distance keep them apart.
“We’ll both be on the East Coast and in the same time zone,” quipped Avey.
For more information: EdisonScholars.com.
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