500 scholarships to 346 students for the 2021-22 academic year

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cuesta College awarded almost 500 scholarships to 346 students totaling $357,890 for the 2021-22 academic year. The Cuesta College Foundation hosted a virtual celebration on Aug. 6 to honor donors and student scholarship, recipients.

Scholarship recipients are current students at Cuesta College, incoming transfers, and high school students attending the Fall 2021 semester. Many students received more than one scholarship, which can be used for tuition, books, and other expenses. 

The scholarships awarded do not include over $20,000 in Promise Scholarship funds, which offer two years of fee-free education to San Luis Obispo County High School graduates. There were 985 students who received support from the Promise Scholarship during the 2020-21 academic year.


“Students, you are what makes us a college—your resilience, hard work, drive, and determination inspire our faculty, staff, and community,” said Dr. Jill Stearns, Cuesta College Superintendent / President. “We are here to celebrate your achievements and look forward to the bright future that lies ahead. I hope you remember today fondly as you continue your academic quest and later in your career, think back on the generous scholarship donor who provided you with a financial boost during an extraordinary time.”

In addition to scholarships and the Promise, every Cuesta College student is eligible for financial assistance and emergency funds to support college enrollment regardless of income. Since the pandemic started, over $4 million in financial aid have been given out directly to students, and over $240,000 was raised through the Foundation towards Cuesta’s Assistance for Student Emergencies fund.

“Our remarkable community continues to respond graciously to support emergency grants,” said Dr. Stearns. “I remain inspired and amazed at the college’s ability to respond to this crisis and add our community’s strong commitment to our college and students.”

Student speaker Rebecca Tavera Lua is a first-generation college student raised by a single mother of two. She is starting her first semester of nursing school at Cuesta College and receiving the Debra Wacker Nursing Scholarship. 

“Being awarded this scholarship has been life-changing,” Rebecca said. “[This scholarship] has given me an amazing opportunity, and I would someday like to give a student the same opportunity. I want to thank my brother and mother, who have always been there to support me, and I hope to make them both proud by being the best nurse I can be.”

Dawn Grillo is a recipient of the Grace and Ralph M. Warten Scholarship. She is currently the President of the Associated Students of Cuesta College, representing the student body on the Board of Trustees. She is also the President of the Black Student Union and is currently working on an Associate Degree for Transfer in Math, intending to transfer to UC Berkeley.

“As many of you know, college is no easy feat – from the moment you enroll in classes to the day you walk across the commencement stage, students are often met with obstacles that can interfere with their ability to strive for academic excellence,” Dawn said. “These scholarships will help alleviate some of those financial concerns and will allow me to put my full effort into my many commitments. As I assume my new roles…I can now spend my time advocating for the well-being of students instead of worrying about how my expenses are going to be paid. The financial support that I received from the donors and the Foundation is something that I will always cherish and forever be grateful for.”

The 2021 Scholarship Virtual Reception can be viewed on Cuesta College’s YouTube page.


The Cuesta College Foundation assists and supports Cuesta College in attaining educational, scientific, and cultural goals and fulfilling its mission of service to the community. As the college’s nonprofit arm, the Foundation has provided millions of dollars for student scholarships, equipment, programs, and projects for student success. Contact the Foundation office at (805)546-3279 to find out how you can support Cuesta College students.