Three graduating seniors from Perris high schools were honored May 29 with $1,000 scholarships by the City’s engineering firm to continue their studies in various engineering and science-related disciplines.
Members of the Perris City Council also lauded the accomplishments of Perris High School seniors Julian Lopez and Ioannina Bugarin and California Military Institute student Yazmin Munoz.
The three 18-year-olds will begin their college careers later this summer—Lopez to study civil and environmental engineering, Bugarin to concentrate on mechanical engineering and Munoz to major in chemical engineering.
City Engineer Habib Motlagh began the scholarship program to encourage Perris graduates to obtain degrees in STEM (science, technology engineering and math) related fields.
For Motlagh, the chance to honor deserving Perris students with annual scholarships represents one of the highlights of the year. Over the years, his company—Tri-Lake Consultants-- has awarded dozens of students the scholarship.
“Perris has given me a lot and I want to give something back,” said Motlagh, who took over duties as City Engineer more than 30 years ago. “My dream would be that one of the students will come back to Perris to work. I’m happy to fund these scholarships. I like to help deserving students.”
Athlete overcomes tragedy
Lopez will attend UC Davis where he hopes to obtain the knowledge to continue the push toward renewable energy. As a Perris Panther, Lopez runs cross-country 5-k races and mile and two-mile events on the varsity track team. Two years ago, he faced his greatest challenge when his dad, Jesus Lopez, died suddenly of a heart ailment at 45. Despite the tragedy, Lopez’s determination to success in academics and athletics never faltered.
He maintained a 4.3-grade point average and never missed a day due to sickness in his entire school career.
“I’m humbled and very honored to have been selected for this award,” Lopez said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to even be considered.”
Although he’s planning to make his living as an engineer, Lopez said his favorite class in school was American History from 1945 to present—the time the U.S. emerged as the undisputed leader of the world. Lopez thanked Perris High School for providing him with the tools needed for success in college and beyond.
“I’m ready for the challenge,” he said.
Coming to America
Bugarin emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 2014, seeking the opportunity for a better future. She spoke little English but was eager to improve her mastery over her new language. She attributes reading John Green novels with helping her attain fluency in English.
Bugarin will attend UC San Diego to continue her pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree. Her ultimate goal: designing the automobile of the future. She’s approaching the future with some nervousness but with the same determination that got her through high school.
“I want to go to college in the U.S.,” she says. “It is very noble to sponsor these scholarships, to think about students and to want them to succeed.”
Bugarin’s favorite subject in school: calculus. Away from the classroom, she enjoys drawing portraits of people and animals and landscapes.
Munoz will continue her education at UC San Diego, where she plans to study bio-chemistry and biochemical engineering with the ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician. She’s eager to become college-bound.
“I’m excited and nervous,” Munoz said. “I want to meet new people and experience new things.”
She is thankful for the scholarship and to the City of Perris for publicly acknowledging her and the other recipients.
“It’s wonderful that he is giving back to his community and allowing us the chance to make a difference in the world,” she said. “I’m really grateful.”
Munoz said her favorite class at CMI is biology. Her favorite pastime: reading science fiction novels.
“I really love the library,” she said.