Nearly 200 family members, teachers, administrators, Newport Beach dignitaries, and friends-at-large gathered at the Balboa Bay Resort to celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of Newport Mesa Unified public high school graduating seniors receiving the annual Balboa Bay Club Scholarships.
For the past two decades, the Balboa Bay Club has awarded college grants to local students nominated by each of the four high schools: Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Estancia and Newport Harbor. This year, a total of $120,000 in grants of various denominations went to 24 students.
The cumulative total of grants to date from the BBC tops the $1,700,000 mark, making the Balboa Bay Club Scholarships a significant avenue of support for local students facing the often-overwhelming expense of higher education.
Balboa Bay Club general manager Leticia Rice served as mistress of ceremonies, welcoming the students and their families.
Rice commented, “I hope that the program tonight will inspire you.”
She was proven correct as each student accepted their scholarship presented to them by John Wortmann, chairman of the Balboa Bay Club’s board of governors. Wortmann, who has presided over the program for many seasons, was the superb ambassador of “hope” recounting and praising each award winner with sincerity.
He said repeatedly, “These are not awards, rather they are earned recognition for hard work and commitment from each student.”
Recognizing the dedicated BBC judges joining Wortmann in the selection process were Catherine Thyen, Devon Martin, Char Armstrong, Noel Hamilton, Heather Dickerson and Leticia Rice. Wortmann noted that “Each judge spent considerable time meeting personally with all of the nominated students, taking notes, interviewing, and making certain that each individual received a fair and equal chance.”
The accomplishments of the students were impressive. Among the honorees, most held 4.0 GPAs; one had a 4.5 GPA. There were class presidents, student stand-out athletes, AP scholars, youth leaders, and one who has played Carnegie Hall nine times.
The students will attend UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cal Davis, NYU, Duke, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, and Chapman, among other schools.
Perhaps most impressive was the focus of each student describing their goals with humility including sincere appreciation for family and teacher support. Among the ambitious goals expressed, a passionate math student desires to change the way math is taught in public schools. Others expressed the ambition to become surgeons, aerospace engineers, a geophysicist, a journalist and writer, a politician, and one focused on law and planning to join the CIA.
The emotional energy could be felt in the BBC ballroom beginning with a cocktail reception and buffet dinner selections produced by Aaron Trent and Melanie Hertrick and courtesy of hotel/club ownership from the Pickup and Martin families, also major donors to the scholarship fund.
Additional dollars are raised all year from BBC members including the men supporting the “Gentlemen’s Smoker” and the ladies supporting the “1221 Club”, along with other donations from both private and business sources believing in giving these students a leg up on their journey.
The twenty-four 2019 Balboa Bay Club Scholars:
From Costa Mesa High School; Kevin Cortez, Ethan Gay, Emma Erskine, Han Nguyen, Amber Lee, and Samantha Filner.
From Corona del Mar High School; Angela Pham, Grant Glessing, Jacob Krantz, Hailey Glenn, Bridgid Kennelly and Alex Kermani.
From Estancia High School; Cosette Terriquez, Victor Jacinto, Ulises Abundis, Natalie Hutchinson, Jake Alai and Jennifer Neri.
From Newport Harbor High School; Stephanie Correa, Scott Mais, Jose Ortiz, Alina Aguirre, Mia Matsunami and Brian Bailey.