SAN LUIS OBISPO — Friday Night Live of San Luis Obispo County has awarded ten local high school seniors with the annual Friday Night Live (FNL) Scholarship. The FNL Board of Directors is proud to point the spotlight on Israel Vargas (Shandon HS), Alejandra Barrera (Atascadero HS), Courtney Basden (Atascadero HS), Julia Aurignac (Templeton HS), Haley Hurdle (Templeton HS), Haley Cudworth (Templeton HS), Amanpreet Mangat (Arroyo Grande HS), and Itzel Lopez Jaimes (Paso Robles HS) who each received $500 and were honored at FNL’s first Annual FNL Banquet on May 17 at 6 p.m. at the SLO Vet’s Hall. Natalie Ziegler (SLOHS) and Bianca Soto (Shandon HS) received $750 scholarships, given in the name of Casey Goodwin, a 20-year-old Cuesta College student and active youth alcohol-prevention advocate, who was killed by a drunk driver in March, 2003. These deserving seniors were recognized for their own advocacy, leadership, and commitment to healthy lifestyles for their peers.
The FNL Scholarship is designed to honor students who have led positive, healthy lifestyles free of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs during high school, and this year’s applicants exemplified the remarkable accomplishments of local high school students.
Each applicant was asked to write a personal essay regarding their high school career, views on alcohol and drug use by teens, and their thoughts on prevention. Students also submitted letters of reference from peers, community members, and teachers, acknowledging their accomplishments.
Here’s am introduction of each of the North County recipients:
Israel Vargas plans to attend Cuesta then transfer to a university. Vargas says, “The FNL program has influenced me so much that I have chosen psychology as a possible major. I want to pay forward the help FNL has given me to others by helping them choose to live a clean and healthy lifestyle, just like I’m choosing.”
Alejandra Barrera plans to attend Cuesta, then transfer to a four year university, and says she loves being in FNL and helping make her community safer and healthier.
Courtney Basden plans to attend a four year university to study digital filmmaking and media production. Basden says “FNL shaped me into the leader and FNL member that I dreamed of being, and has opened my eyes to the importance of substance use, education and prevention.”
Julia Aurignac plans to attend Baylor University to study nursing. Aurignac says, “FNL has truly changed the way I view all aspects of my life. The Awareness Gallery helped me realize that I was not alone in high school; we all have problems, and this event allowed others to do the same.”
Haley Hurdle plans to attend Colorado State University to major in animal science with a focus in veterinary medicine and a minor in ag education. Haley says her experience in FNL has helped shape who she is today, and knows she always has people to rely on.
Itzel Lopez Jaimes plans to major in Biology and then enter a physician’s assistant program. Jaimes has been involved with FNL since the sixth grade, and writes, “FNL has taught me not to throw my life away. I can now provide others with resources that could save their life. FNL has helped me spread awareness to my peers, which I probably could not have done by myself; coming from peers make a better impact.”
Haley Cudworth plans to attend Cal Poly and study business/entrepreneurship. Cudworth says, “Through all of these FNL events, I have been able to do the one thing I was determined to do since the day I stepped onto my campus: make a change. I knew that I wanted to be part of something bigger in my life during high school, and Friday Night Live allowed me to do just that.”
Bianca Soto is a senior at Shandon HS, and plans to major in Biology, attend med school to become a pediatric surgeon. Soto started in FNL in fifth grade, and has been an integral member of FNL since then. When writing about the impact of Casey’s Pledge on Shandon’s campus, Soto wrote, “I think her story is one of the most emotional ones I have heard because of the fact that she was so involved in the prevention of drunk driving and Friday Night Live in general. Casey Goodwin, though I didn’t know her, is definitely someone I look up to. She had a major impact on not only Exeter but all over. I would have been honored to be able to meet her in my lifetime, she was definitely one of the biggest influences on me during all my years of FNL even if I never actually met her.”
Friday Night Live is a non-profit youth development and prevention program for teens, in cooperation with the County of SLO Behavioral Health Department, providing positive activities and education for students throughout the county. Funding for the FNL Scholarship has been made possible by donations from fundraisers and private donations.
Photo caption: (Left) Natalie Ziegler from SLOHS and (Right) Bianca Soto from Shandon HS received the Casey Goodwin Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Casey Goodwin, a 20-year-old Cuesta College student and active youth alcohol-prevention advocate, who was killed by a drunk driver in March, 2003. (Contributed photo)