Siblings Pursue Careers with Help from Petersen Scholars Program

Maria and Jose visited PCF offices in March to share their experiences as Petersen Scholars. They are pictured here with Program Director Jeannine Bogaard.

Maria Lozano and José Lozano Rojas were selected as Petersen Scholars in the fall of 2022. They are siblings, and both are pursuing careers that leverage two important skills they honed as foster teens – advocacy and caregiving.

José, age 21, recently graduated from Pasadena City College (PCC) with a major in criminal justice. “I’d like to advocate for people who don’t know their rights.” Maybe help foster youth – those who had difficult childhood experiences that caused them to get in trouble.” “I would love to use my degree to advocate for people who don’t know their rights or help those who had difficult childhood experiences that caused them to get in trouble.” He will enroll at Cal State Long Beach this fall.

Maria is 22 and has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant for the last two years as she pursues a nursing degree at PCC. “I am a patient and calm caregiver, wound treatment does not scare me,” she explains. Professors often make note of her willingness to volunteer in their classroom to help other students; they tell her she would make a great ambassador. Maria hopes to become a registered nurse and get a master’s degree in nursing. Her goal is to transfer to San José State University.

Expanding THEIR horizons & Giving back
In 2022, José spent four months in Italy with a PCC study abroad program. He took three courses and loved his time there, noting that the experience helped broaden his perspective of the world.

When presented the chance to visit Grenada, Spain with a similar program this summer, José jumped at the chance to apply – and persuaded Maria to apply too. Both were accepted into the program, and PCF provided funding for the trip with help from donors Mark Rice and Diana Schulz, who also have a PCF endowment designated for seniors.

As Maria and José become world travelers, they also want to ensure they make time to assist other foster youth. They plan to get involved in an AmeriCorps program to mentor foster teens with tasks they themselves found challenging: getting a driver’s license, learning to drive, and helping the transition to college.

The pair agree that the Petersen funding has helped them with a range of living expenses, which José says is important to “allow us to focus more on school.” Maria says the scholarship feels like is a blessing. “I am proud that I go to college. I am proud that I am educated.”