One of two Vital Intervention Directional Alternative (VIDA) program graduates was awarded with a full scholarship to the University of Antelope Valley (UAV) on Tuesday.
Isaac Mendez-Candelario, 18, will study criminal justice when he begins classes this semester at UAV. It was because of Mendez-Candelario’s progress in the program and his leadership skills that made him the number one pick to be awarded the first full scholarship of the VIDA program.
“I am honored and pleased to share in your success today,” said Sheriff of Los Angeles County Lee Baca as he presented the award to Mendez-Candelario. “I’m pleased that Isaac’s mother is here. I thank you for being the role model that you are to your young son, and that he’s able through the VIDA program to capture his own imagination about his dream and therefore proceed directly to the UAV on a scholarship which will enable him to actualize his dream.”
Mendez-Candelario got into trouble when he was 16, causing $20,000 worth of graffiti damage. He was caught by the sheriffs and fined $1,200. “I was only 16 and was a little troublemaker who thought life was a joke,” said Mendez-Candelario. After attending VIDA, he paid off $3,000 by mowing lawns, recycling and washing cars. “It wasn’t easy but I knew I had to be responsible for my actions and my mom did not pay for one bit of my fines,” he said.
Members of the Lancaster and Palmdale Sheriff’s VIDA program approached the UAV about potential scholarship for two VIDA program graduates and university president Marco Johnson and his wife Sandra Johnson, CEO of the university, jumped at the opportunity.
“Right out the gate we thought it was something intriguing and positive,” said Marco Johnson.
“The day they came and met with us and told us about the VIDA program, we actually didn’t even let them finish telling us. We said we’re in, we’re in,” added Sandra Johnson. “This is what UAV is about and it was a miracle how VIDA is exactly the same purpose and so we are honored to be partners with the VIDA program.”
Mendez-Candelario was ecstatic over news of his scholarship. Originally he had been planning to join the Navy as a way to pay for college.
“I have friends that brag about getting a scholarship…what were the chances of me getting a scholarship? So I was going to go straight into the Navy Seals,” said Mendez-Candelario. “When I heard that I was receiving a scholarship, I went nuts, I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true to me.”
Marco Johnson challenged other institutions to step up to the plate. “This is your opportunity to step up and match what we’re doing,” said Marco Johnson. “If we can step up and do it, there’s no reason any other institution across this country cannot get involved in something similar to this and make it happen.”
I want to write about YOU! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your information. Click on the subscribe button above to receive my articles in your inbox. Would you like to write for pingroof.com?