It was a typical morning in AP statistics class until Kelton Hardrict Jr., also known as KJ, was pulled out of class by his school counselor.
KJ, a senior at Whitney High School in Cerritos, was led to the school’s theater and greeted with an unexpected surprise — a $40,000 Edison Scholars scholarship from Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison. The annual scholarships are awarded to 30 high school seniors majoring in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
“I wanted to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue engineering,” he said. “My parents really wanted me to go to a school without money concerns, and I knew that they would be struggling to pay for it, so this will help a lot.”
Video Credit: Nic Roy, Joe Foulk, Ernie Sanchez and Larry Tsuei
KJ is captain of the school’s varsity basketball team, co-captain of the volleyball team and competes in four track and field events. He’s also a member of the National Honors Society and spent his summer completing electrical engineering research at UCLA.
“When KJ started walking, I told him ‘you can walk wherever you want to walk,’” said KJ’s dad, Kelton Sr. “I made sure he knew there was no limit to what he wants to do.”
KJ plans to attend MIT and major in aeronautics and astronautics engineering. He will use his degree to launch a career in the aerospace industry.
“My dream is to work for NASA — not as an astronaut, but being the brains behind the operations working out the math for spacecrafts or drones,” he said.
To be eligible for an Edison Scholars scholarship, applicants need to have a GPA of at least 3.0, demonstrate financial need and live in or attend high school in SCE's service area. They also must plan to attend a four-year college and major in electrical, environmental, mechanical, civil, computer or industrial engineering, in computer sciences/information systems or environmental sciences.
“By supporting students in STEM studies, we are helping create the 21st century workforce that Edison and the country needs,” said Tammy Tumbling, SCE’s director of Philanthropy and Community Investment.
Since 2006, Edison International has awarded $5.3 million in scholarships to 520 students.
“One day, I hope to paint my name in the sky,” said KJ, holding his $40,000 check in the air.
Meet Our 2016 Edison Scholars