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5th Group of Helios/Diamondback Scholars Recognized

August 3rd, 2016

It’s a day eight Arizona students will never forget.

On this warm, Sunday afternoon, eight Arizona high school students stepped onto the field, before the crowd at the Arizona Diamondbacks versus Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game at Chase Field, in downtown Phoenix.

DSC_0085These eight College Success Arizona scholars are the fifth group of Helios/Diamondbacks students.  These are special students, participating in a special program.  Usually, when a student earns a scholarship, they receive money to pay for their tuition. When a College Success Arizona scholar is named a D-backs scholar, they join a close knit family, with a limited number of members, rooted in baseball. 2016 is the 5th year of the program, and the D-backs, along with Helios Education Foundation, have rewarded 40 Arizona high achieving high school students, attending Arizona colleges and universities, scholarships through College Success Arizona.  All of the students receiving these scholarships have high financial need and high potential to succeed in earning their college degrees.  With this year’s scholars, the total contribution for the D-Backs Scholars program has surpassed $1 million.

Along with the funding and tremendous support from the D-backs, these students also receive valuable Success Services, including intensive professional mentoring, career development assistance, and numerous academic advisory services through College Success Arizona. These vital support services are also funded through the scholarship partnership, and greatly increase the scholars’ chances of graduating on time with their degree.

The D-backs commitment to each student is shown not only through the money they award, but also through the relationships they maintain.   “We have a great connection with all of our scholars,” said Diamondbacks President, Derrick Hall. “We always stay in touch with them.”  The D-Backs Scholars build long-lasting relationships with the team and are able to take advantage of the great networking opportunities that accompany that relationship.

This day started out with family and friends gathering in the Diamondbacks Locker Room, where they were welcomed by Paul Luna, President and CEO of the Helios Education Foundation and DSC_0031Debbie Castaldo, the Diamondbacks Vice President of Corporate and Community Impact.  Debbie shared with the students, that they were now part of the D-backs family, as she said in both English and Spanish, “Bienvenidos a nuestra familia. Como parte de la familia D-backs, le ayudaremos en todo lo possible para tener exito. Or, welcome to our family. As part of the D-backs family, we will help you as much as possible to be successful.”  After suiting up in their personalized 2016 D-Backs Jersey, each scholar was introduced, presented with their scholarship certificate, and some very special gifts from the Diamondbacks, Insight Intelligent Technology Solutions, and Lenova Computers, to make their college careers more successful.

After the presentation, the scholars were taken from the Locker Room and onto the warning track of Chase Field, where they were introduced to the nearly sell-out crowd.  After waving to those in the stands, and being photographed for posterity, the scholars were taken to a separate seating area where their entire families were treated to the game as guests of the Diamondbacks.  But, the Diamondbacks weren’t done.  Before the game was over, the Diamondbacks gave an invitation to their scholars to come back to any of the Diamondbacks home games as their special guests.

College Success Arizona president and CEO, Rich Nickel, had this to say about the day’s events, “We continue to be proud partners with Helios Education Foundation and the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club in this innovative scholarship and success program.  This is a great example of how the community can come together and greatly impact the lives of high-potential, high-need Arizona students.  These students are our future.  When they graduate, they’ll have helped to increase the education level of our state, and become significant contributors to the skilled workforce Arizona needs.”

DSC_0176The 2016 Helios/D-Backs Scholars represent high schools from across the state and will be working toward their Bachelor’s Degrees.  The 2016 D-Backs Scholars are: Melina Arellano Flores, from Metro Tech High School, will be studying engineering at Arizona State University, to become a Mechanic Engineer.  Delozsa Bright, from Cesar Chavez High School, studying nursing at Grand Canyon University to become a Pediatric Registered Nurse.  Simeon James, a graduate of North Canyon High School, is a Biology major, at Arizona State University, and hopes to be a Pharmacist.  Sean Oliver attended the Franklin Police and Fire High School, and will be attending Grand Canyon University, majoring in Criminal Justice to become a Police Officer.  Jesus Ruiz, who attended University High School, will be a future Mining Engineer, after majoring in Engineering at the University of Arizona.  Jesus Valenzuela, attended Desert View High School, and hopes to become a Retail Manager, after majoring in Business Management at the University of Arizona.  Adeli Valladares, is a graduate of North High School, and is going into the medical field as a General Practitioner, after studying Biology at Arizona State University.  Andrea Villasenor, a Kofa High School graduate, is attending the University of Arizona, majoring in Engineering and will pursue a career as a Lawyer.

College Success Arizona is building public will for college completion and providing a unique combination of scholarships and mentoring that increase college graduation rates among low-income and first-generation students across the state.  We do this through; providing scholarships and mentoring support services, building partnerships with college access programs and scholarship programs, raising the awareness of the importance of college completion, and the support of more than 200 college access and success organizations throughout the state.

To find out more about College Success Arizona and to support their scholarship and mentoring programs for Arizona students, attending Arizona colleges and universities, please go to and use the online donation option, or call 602-636-1850.

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