Here is an update sent to the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation community from Edwin Vargas Navarro, who won the 2021 one-time $20,000 Liss Family Scholarship – plus a $1,000 Junior Livestock Auction Scholarship – to major in math at UC Berkeley. He is already fulfilling the promise shown in him.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Foundation for allowing me to be where I am today. It has been outstanding the social good this Foundation has been to many scholars in San Diego County. It brings me great joy to see this Foundation continue to prosper, and I wish to be of use in the future. That being said, I would like to show my appreciation right now by doing my absolute best in university.

My summer was quite interesting. On June 14, 2021 I started my summer job as a summer camp leader. Then on June 18th I graduated as salutatorian out of 550 students. My GPA was actually lowered because I took agriculture (FFA) because it was a non-honors class. Either way, I’m happy that I was academically strong. Oh yeah, I accomplished my goal of never receiving an A- or worse.

Upon graduating from high school, I decided to enroll in summer classes with UC Berkeley. I decided to do both my summer job and online summer classes. Monday through Friday I would go to work from 7:00 AM – 12:45 PM and then from 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM I would do online school. To keep me mentally sane I would go for some night runs after class and enjoy my weekends.

Then on August 13, it was my last day of work and summer school. One of my classes in the summer was a math class. The top two individuals in the class would receive an A+. Out of 75 students I ranked #1 and I got the A+. I scored 227/200 in my math final. This fall semester I already have a 4.0 GPA because of my summer classes.

Then on August 16, I moved to my college dorm. It was quite a new experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. That same week I biked about 50 miles and passed by the Golden Bridge along the way. Just recently my transfer credit report came out and I have 30 college credits already! I need 120 total credits to graduate college. These credits are mostly from passing AP and IB tests I took from high school.

Since I have so many credits, the school website considers me a college sophomore! I can graduate within three years with only Fall and Spring semesters but I could graduate in less than three years if I take summer classes.

I’m considering the possibilities of graduating early or double majoring. Both are really good options because if I graduate early then I could get my master’s degree sooner. Except if I have a double major, it will allow me to explore more career options.

All in all, I’m thriving here at UC Berkeley. I have even begun tutoring some of my classmates in math and in a few weeks I will be tutoring some K-12 students from local schools. This is a part of a school program to get my teacher’s credential alongside my bachelor’s degree. I will need to schedule an appointment with a college advisor because I will need to finalize my plan for graduating. As for how I’m using the scholarship, it all went to the tuition and dorm bill.

You can rest assured that the scholarship was not misused. The estimated cost of attendance actually rose to $42,118 this year and I previously stated about $37,000. There were more grants/aid added, but I can gladly say that I didn’t take any loans.

Thank you so much for all your help! I will keep you updated with my academic progress and special events.

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded $1,191,000 in scholarships to 298 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at and