Lust for learning drives RCís Sabrina Enriquez
Lust for learning drives RCís Sabrina Enriquez
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By Mira Brody  May 23, 2014 12:00 am

Doing the bare minimum is a foreign concept for Sabrina Enriquez. 

The Rancho Cotate High School student, graduating next weekend, has not only completed the highest level of mathematics classes available to her but also participated in many community services, including the Upward Bound Program and has been a part of her student body government since her sophomore year.

Her hard work has earned her much recognition and scholarships, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship and her tuition paid at University of Southern California, where she will begin this coming fall. She wants to study mathematics with a concentration in pre-law.


“Always excelled in math”

“I just always been really interested in math and it’s something I’ve always excelled in,” says Enriquez. “I’ve taken all the math classes in my district. I eventually want to be a math teacher.”

Once she has her Bachelor’s in mathematics, she wants to teach her way through law school, hoping to eventually be a civil rights lawyer. She chose USC because of its vast connections and close student community.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, selects 1,000 students a year to not only receive college money, but also become part of a network of other scholars reaching for similar goals. Sabrina will attend a leadership conference this summer, which will host other Gates Scholars as well as some of the most successful and important people in the world.


Unique connections

“Since a lot of us are first-generation (college students) this is a way we can make connections we otherwise would not have,” says Enriquez of meeting other Gates Scholars. “This is a scholarship that will eventually cover all of my unmet needs. It is an opportunity for me to not have to work through college, but more than anything it is an opportunity so I can network and create connections for my future.”

Some of the other scholarships Enriquez has received include: The Norman Topping Student Aid Fund, which is a program through USC that pays for all her tuition; the Ronald House Charity; the Press Democrat Community Service Award; and the PG&E ERG Latino Scholarship.


Hard work pays off

Such rewards, though, do not come without hard work. Enriquez is President of the Senior Class Council, part of the National Honors Society and Vice President of the Math Club. 

The Honors Society is a community service-based group that organizes Dine and Donate events that help organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. She also plans her school’s homecoming, prom and graduation events and has been a member of the Sonoma County Upward Bound Program for four years.

“I spend a lot of time with my Upward Bound family,” she says. “It’s a program for first-generation, low-income students. They provide tutors, college tours, counseling and help with scholarship and college applications.”

The application for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, for example, required eight 1,000-word essays. 

Others require extensive interviews.

“Sabrina is a force to be reckoned with,” says her guidance counselor at Rancho Cotate, Kimberly Bricker. “She will be a ‘change agent’ in the world for the betterment of all mankind. Her equanimity is astonishing for a person of any age.”

Although her father has been incarcerated for most of her life, Sabrina has an extremely supportive mother and 22-year-old sister. She also notes Michelle McGinity as one of her favorite math teachers in high school.


Always looking to learn

“She has always provided an open classroom and is very welcoming,” says Enriquez, noting that she often spends breaks and lunches in McGinity’s classroom with a group of peers.

“I don’t think she will ever tire of learning,” says McGinity. “Sabrina has truly been a “one-of-a-kind” student in my 16-year teaching experience. Her goals are very clear and her determination is one of the strongest I have seen.  Sabrina’s willingness and drive to succeed will carry her to her dreams.”

Before she begins college, Enriquez is spending the summer with her family in El Salvador, but is excited to start making friends and connections at USC this fall.

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