Some days, it took Selina Pacheco two hours each way on public transportation to get to and from her home in South Central Los Angeles to attend full-time classes at Pasadena City College (PCC). Despite these and other obstacles— being raised by a single mother who came from Mexico, her father passing away, and helping to care for her oldest brother who has a cognitive disability — Pacheco was determined to be the first one in her family to tackle the world of higher education.
Her unyielding spirit caught the attention of the College Women’s Club of Pasadena Scholarship Foundation (CWCSF) committee. For two years in a row, Pacheco received a CWCP scholarship to PCC; a rarity for the local philanthropic organization that typically grants between 10-12 scholarships per academic year.
“Selina was worthy of back-to-back scholarships based on her strong application and her tenacity in pursuing a difficult academic goal,” explains CWCPSF chair Sandra Rhoten. “We were impressed with her dedication to her family, community and her academic journey.”
Pacheco not only graduated from PCC in 2020, but is heading to University of California-Berkeley this fall (virtually for now) to pursue studies in Molecular Cell Biology. She has set her sights on getting a PhD and then working in clinical cancer research. She credits CWCPSF and their financial help. “These scholarships are life-changing and allowed me to remain a full-time student,” says Pacheco. “Their generosity allowed me to concentrate on what I was passionate about — my studies.”
Because of her background, Pacheco feels strongly about giving back to the community. She regularly tutors underserved students; she’s recently been helping 4-8th graders at the Adelante Youth Alliance in Pasadena. “I want them to know opportunities are out there because I didn’t when I was their age,” she says. “It’s my duty to help these students just like others have helped me.”