WHITTIER – Two Santa Fe High School graduating seniors, who have each developed a passion to change their community and inspire those around them, have collectively earned $30,000 in scholarships from the Santa Fe Springs Chamber of Commerce to pursue their dreams as first-generation college students.

Students Sarah Garcia and Jennisa Casillas are among seven recipients of a Destiny Scholarship, awarded by the Chamber/League Youth Enrichment Fund. Casillas won $10,000 while Garcia was named the winner of the $20,000 Destiny Scholarship, aimed at providing students the opportunity to change their direction in life, or their “destiny.”

“I want to congratulate Sarah and Jennisa for achieving this tremendous honor and demonstrating to their peers how strength, commitment and resilience pay off,” Principal Craig Campbell said. “I have no doubt that these young ladies will continue to make relevant, impactful and meaningful change in our local and broader community.”

Garcia – who carries a 4.17 GPA and has taken 17 Advanced Placement and honors courses while at Santa Fe – will attend Whittier College and double-major in political science and history. She plans to pursue a career in Washington, D.C., as a constitutional lawyer and politician.

“I want to be the light in the midst of all that darkness,” she said. “I want to protect the natural and human rights we were given, especially given today’s political climate. I want to be an educator, mentor and protector.”

While at Santa Fe, Garcia has been a standout student-athlete as a member of the soccer, cross country and track teams. She has served as president of the Debate Club and a member of Chieftain Friends, Link Crew and Spanish Honors Society. She is also a worship leader at her local church.

“My parents were a big influence because they always saw the negative aspects of not going to school and hard life can be without an education,” she said. “I pushed myself in high school to see what I’m capable of and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.”

Casillas plans to venture attend UC Santa Barbara, where she will study psychology and minor in education. Her goal is to become a school counselor, a career aspiration inspired by her own counselor at Santa Fe.

“I was struggling a lot junior year because of all the classes I was taking and other commitments I had,” she said. “My grades weren’t reflecting the kind of student I am, but my counselor was always there.”

Casillas has a 4.14 GPA and has taken 22 AP and honors courses at Santa Fe, while also being a member of the volleyball team, Principal’s Honor Court, Spanish Honors Society, Chieftain Friends, Link Crew, AVID and Girl Scouts. She has completed 500 hours of community service and helped transform the computer lab at her church into a college center to inspire children to attend and finish college.

“Education is truly the best way to ensure success, and that can never be taken away from you,” she said. “I’ve always loved helping others. I want to set the right example. That’s the best way to lead.”

The students will receive the scholarships during the Chamber’s annual Destiny dinner on June 23.


052218_WUHSD_DESTINY: Santa Fe High School seniors Sarah Garcia, left, and Jennisa Casillas are among seven recipients of a Destiny Scholarship that is annually awarded by the Santa Fe Springs Chamber of Commerce/League Youth Enrichment Fund. Garcia won the main prize of $20,000 and Casillas won $10,000 to go toward their education expenses.