Dreaming big

First-generation college graduate thankful for scholarship

Life has already come full circle in a way for 21-year-old Julia Preston, who this month celebrated her graduation from Arizona State University.

Until just a few years ago, the Ahwatukee resident, born and raised in Arizona, would never have imagined she’d be armed with a college degree in nonprofit and leadership management.

But it’s no small coincidence that she chose that particular degree.

Preston credits Chicanos Por La Causa, an SRP-supported Valley nonprofit, for allowing her to become a first-generation college student. Chicanos provides education scholarships for children from low-income Latino families who attend Arizona colleges and universities.

Growing up, Preston’s parents were always hard workers. Her dad often held two jobs at a time to sustain the family, but being able to afford college for Preston and her sister was a pipe dream.

But with the scholarship money that pretty much covered her entire tuition, it became a reality.

“It’s been a complete game-changer for me and my family. It lifted a weight off of our shoulders,” said a grateful Preston, who attended community college her freshman year and then transferred to ASU.

Scholarship recipients commit to 40 hours of community service, including 20 hours outside Chicanos Por La Causa. Through this, Preston said she has had a chance to see the value nonprofits bring to those in need and how they can truly change lives for the better.

It’s been a complete game-changer for me and my family.

Since its inception in 1998, the scholarship program has given nearly $3.5 million to more than 1,000 students. It’s one of Chicanos’ many programs that support the community, and SRP has been a proud partner of the nonprofit for more than two decades.

“At CPLC, we seek to create opportunities to enrich people’s lives,” said Max Gonzales, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Relationship Management at Chicanos Por La Causa. “One way we accomplish this goal is to provide a quality education that allows a person to fulfill their potential and become a valuable contributor to our community.”

He added that by supporting the nonprofit’s fundraiser events, companies such as SRP help Chicanos achieve its mission of building and strengthening communities.

Preston said hers is definitely an example of the difference these programs make.

“They lift entire families and future generations,” Preston added. “It feels good to know companies are invested in the achievements and the future of kids they don’t even know.”

Featured photo courtesy of Julia Preston

Sonu Munshi

Sonu Munshi

Sonu is a communications strategist at SRP. She mainly handles social media and blogs at work, and two mostly adorable kids at home. She's a writer at heart, and, naturally, always open to recommendations for the next great coffee shop in town.

More Posts - Website