Then, Tori said, she went shrieking over to her mother to deliver the news.
The Dell scholarships, which are run through the Austin-based Dell Foundation, are “need-based” and “recognize academic potential and determination in underserved and low-income students,” according to the program’s website.
Besides looking just at applicants’ academic records and test scores, the Dell Scholars Program looks for students who are determined to succeed, according to the site. Students must also have taken some kind of college-readiness program to be eligible.
A strong work ethic and a determined sense of purpose are characteristics the three winning students seem to have in common, teachers said.
Tori was born in the U.S. but lived in Bulgaria during her childhood, before moving back to the U.S. at 7. She learned English as a second language while adjusting to a new way of life. She moved to California from New Jersey, and had a rocky freshman year of high school, she said. With the help of a college-readiness class called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, she learned strong study skills and found support and encouragement, she said.
“She had a very, very strong desire to become a student,” teacher Kathy Angers said.
Tori plans to study engineering at UC San Diego.
Megerdichian moved to the U.S. from Iran when he was in seventh grade, and also learned English as a second language while adjusting to a new life. The educational opportunities in Iran would not have been what they are here, Megerdichian said, so he was set on pushing himself to succeed.
He has been a remarkable student for his perseverance to improve, Angers said.
“I think I was really determined,” he said.
Megerdichian will attend UC Irvine, where he plans to major in engineering.
In addition to school, Yoo helps take care of his two brothers, who are 11 and 16.
He is bound for UCLA, where he plans to study science.
“I hope to major in physical science, like physiology or biology,” he said.
Yoo has taken a half-dozen Advanced Placement classes, and he tutors AVID students twice a week.
“He’s a very hard worker,” said Holly Ciotti, who teaches English and AVID at Glendale High.
“He’s very patient, and math is his strength,” she said.
The scholarship will greatly reduce the financial strain of paying for college, Yoo said.
“It’s going to help me pay for, like, most of it,” he said.