Miguel Gomez is the Eastern Sierra Foundation’s latest choice to receive a $10,000 transfer scholarship.
Gomez, who has earned two associates degrees locally at Cerro Coso College in math/science and sociology/behavioral science, is moving onto the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), where he will major in computer science and engineering.
He was honored in a small ceremony at Cerro Coso’s Bishop campus on Tuesday evening.
Kim Blackwell, Director of the Eastern Sierra College Center, said she’s met with thousands of kids since she started in the mid-2000s, but Miguel has definitely stood out. “No matter what was going on [in his life], he never gave up.”
Miguel’s story is an improbable one. He is now 28 years old. He quit college on two different occasions before he finally stuck on his third try. Some courses, like English 101, “I probably retook four times,” he said with a rueful grin.
In retaking classes, he was able to wipe the past failures from his record and bump his grade-point average from a 1.2 to a 3.6.
That, you math whizzes out there, is improvement by a factor of three!
Inyo Supervisor Jeff Griffiths, who has sat on the Eastern Sierra Foundation’s board for 15 years, said Gomez was an obvious choice – particularly after reading his application essay where Gomez talked about the death of his older brother, becoming the eldest brother as a result, and taking the responsibility to heart and getting his act together.
Matthew Paruolo of Southern California Edison was there to support Gomez and add, with the proper lack of subtlety, something to the effect of ‘Sure hope you come home [after college] and consider working for us.’
SCE has partnered with the Foundation to support students studying STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and a good portion of that scholarship money “stemmed” from SCE with the Foundation as the pass-through organization.
Gomez would be the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college.
Previous winners of the $10,000 transfer scholarships include Ajia Saunders in 2021, Sydney Ellis in 2022 and Madelyne Bigham and Dakota Reynolds in 2023.
Classes for Gomez start Monday. He’ll be living with friends in Reno – and is renting the equivalent of a closet for $200/month, though he claims his room is large enough where he can sleep horizontally.
Gomez attended four separate high schools – two in L.A. and a semester in Big Pine before finishing at Bishop Union High School.
He is full of energy and charisma – a “beacon of light” said Griffiths simply.