Agriculture · Bakersfield · Education

Wonderful Co. awards dozen college scholarships to Valley natives

With graduation season wrapping up, 12 Valley high school graduates students from both Wasco and Shafter were awarded hefty scholarships, courtesy of one of the region’s biggest farmers.

Tuesday, the Wonderful Company announced it awarded a dozen college-bound Valley natives with scholarships up to $30,000 to help with tuition fees, living expenses, and other costs associated with attending the college of their choice.

The Wonderful Community Scholarship Program was developed by farming giants Stewart and Lynda Resnick to aid local students and families. Their scholarship program has sent $25 million in the form of 2,300 scholarships, the company announced.

The scholarship program provides support to first-generation college students to get ready for college without the financial burden it comes with in hopes to allocate more time to their studies and graduate.

In Kern County, only 17 percent of the residents hold a bachelor’s degree as for many college is not an option due to the high costs.

To improve the education rate, the Resnicks established the scholarship program to increase the percentage and make higher education as a realistic opportunity for more individuals in their Wonderful communities.

“Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens, and we’re determined to make sure the next generation of leaders in the Central Valley not only excels in academics, but that they also use their passions to ignite change in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Lynda Resnick, vice-chairman of The Wonderful Company.

“A quality education must be equitable and inclusive so that every child can gain the skills and earn the credentials needed for successful, fulfilling careers. Our children have so much to contribute to the world and, thanks to them, I know our future is bright.”

More than $30 million are invested into education, health, and community development across the Central Valley through the Wonderful Company and its co-owners.

Starting the program to initially provide scholarships to Wonderful employees and their families. The program has expanded over the recent 28 years to grant college scholarships to Wonderful College Prep Academy Students and now first-generation college students from Shafter and Wasco high schools.

As of today, 900 Wonderful scholarship recipients are enrolled in college and an additional 300 graduating seniors received a Wonderful College Scholarship this year.

“We’re proud of our students for pursuing their educational aspirations,” said Russell Shipley, principal, Shafter High School. “It’s more important than ever to help build and maintain the pipeline of diverse talent that will go on to be innovators and changemakers in our community for years to come. We’re incredibly grateful for the financial support to help our young leaders achieve their dreams.”

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.