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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Fiesta Bowl Grant $86,000 to 20 Empowering Diversity Scholarship Winners

Scholarships awarded to 15 post-secondary, 5 general education development (GED) scholarship recipients 

 As part of a commitment to elevate achievements in education and in diversity, equity and inclusion, the Fiesta Bowl Organization and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) have selected 20 Arizonans for the third annual Empowering Diversity Scholarship. 

The Empowering Diversity Scholarship was created to support members of Arizona’s underrepresented communities with their educational goals through scholarships. This year, a total of $86,000 in financial awards was given to 20 individuals. In the three years of the program, the Empowering Diversity Scholarship presented by Fiesta Bowl and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has awarded $259,000 to 66 Arizona minority students.  

“It has always been a priority of ours to create opportunities that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Pam Kehaly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “This Empowering Diversity Scholarship helps Arizona students further their potential and reach their academic goals.” 

According to the Arizona Board of Regents, enrollment of historically underrepresented populations increased to 30 percent at Arizona public universities last year. The goal of the Empowering Diversity Scholarship is to help this upward trend continue as well as help students achieve their higher education dreams. 

The Empowering Diversity Scholarship granted 15 post-secondary recipients with $5,500 awards for their education expenses and five general education development (GED) recipients each received $700 to cover GED-related fees and additional study resources 

“This Empowering Diversity program provides necessary resources to support the journeys of our future leaders," said Fiesta Bowl Board Chair Randal Norton. "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is an exemplary partner who makes these scholarships possible and enables Arizonans to advance in their lives through education.” 

The GED track was open to Arizona resident minority students interested in obtaining their GED and recipients have included single mothers and parents of special needs children. The scholarship will cover fees associated with the GED assessment and additional program support services provided by College Depot. The post-secondary track was open to Arizona resident minority students in their senior year of high school or college students attending an Arizona post-secondary institution (including four-year colleges or universities, two-year colleges, vocational-technical schools and programs, and life skills programs).  

The 2022 scholarship winners are listed below with capsules on their backgrounds. 




Diversity Scholarship Winners - Abraham Freya Abraham | University of Arizona | Neuroscience 

Abraham is a sophomore at the University of Arizona, while also being extremely active in community service. She volunteers in health initiatives as a telehealth behavioral coach, as a board member for K-12 STEM projects and recently launching a mental health-focused student newsletter. Abraham co-launched Give a Book, Grow a Mind, a grant-funded childhood reading initiative for low-income elementary students. In 2020, she was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Department of Education. 

"Thank you so much for making it possible for me to pursue my dreams with confidence. Graduate school costs are heavy, and doctors who choose to work in rural areas spend even more years paying back their loans on average. By helping fund my undergraduate studies, you are making it possible for me to envision this path."  

A picture containing outdoor, road, person, streetDescription automatically generated Aissatou Camara | Arizona State University | Computer Science 

Camara is entering her junior year at Arizona State University with plans to set a trend and promote more black women to enter the field of computer science. Her goal is to create a nonprofit organization with programs that educate and support black women to develop skills and help them secure internships or jobs at the end of the program.  

"The Empowering Diversity Scholarship will help me so much with my educational journey. Before getting this scholarship, I was in a position where I could not afford to pay for my housing, books, transportation and meals. Now with this scholarship, I will be able to pay some of these expenses and focus more on my studies which would enable me to succeed in school." 

A picture containing person, standing, wearing, posingDescription automatically generated Samuel Cristerna | Arizona State University | Political Science 

A recent graduate of Perry High School, Cristerna co-founded the Pumas 4 Pumas mental health club for high school students in need, raising awareness about mental health providing counsel on overcoming obstacles. Arizona State University reached out to Cristerna on the program to make videos for high school students. He was diagnosed with dyslexia as a junior at Perry and overcame that to finish with a 3.9 GPA. 

“I believe the best leaders are those who are educated and experts in their subject matter. I believe for me college was necessary, being that I want to be a lawyer I will be in school for a while. This scholarship will be a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, I’m so grateful. It will help me meet like-minded individuals and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store.” 

A picture containing person, outdoor, clothingDescription automatically generated Andreya De La Torre | Grand Canyon University | Communications 

A first-generation college student, De La Torre graduated as high school valedictorian while experiencing homelessness. Believing that higher education was not possible, her initial pursuit was completing trade school and becoming an automotive technician. Moving to work at her high school alma mater, the single mom entered community college and now is pursuing her bachelor’s at Grand Canyon University. 

“I never imagined myself graduating high school. Even after graduating as the valedictorian, I doubted my capabilities because I was the first and only to graduate high school. However, blessings like this scholarship help motivate me to continue. The impact of this scholarship starts with me but will allow me to plant seeds and influence others. Thank you for this scholarship and opportunity to succeed.” 

A person with long hair smilingDescription automatically generated with low confidence Anna Maria Driesen | University of Arizona | Medicine 

Driesen has a passion for helping break down barriers to bring healthcare to those in need but without the financial means. Volunteer work with FRONTERA helped her understand how physicians provided health services in the face of limited financial resources to overcome disparities. She also worked on a project that was published in the Journal of Surgical Education. 

"As a student who is financially independent, scholarships help to relieve some of the stress that comes with receiving an education. Diversity is very important to me as a Hispanic woman pursuing medicine. I am grateful for the Empowering Diversity Scholarship, which will help me pursue my goals and will connect me to a diverse community of students throughout Arizona who are pursuing their educational dreams." 

A picture containing outdoor, sky, person, grassDescription automatically generated Katrin Henry | University of Arizona | Pharmacy 

Coming from a rural location in the Yuma area, Henry has been active in the pharmacy field in Yuma, Tucson and P’urhepecha communities. A Spanish-speaking member of the P’urhepecha tribe, she was a guest speaker of the National Hispanics Pharmacists Association (NHPA) and has been assigned to the WeCARE team at CVS pharmacies within Yuma County. She completed a 10-week Spanish Immersion Summer Internship (SISI) for CVS Health. 

"Since starting college at 17, I've paid my tuition, all associated costs like books and laptops, car, food, and clothes by myself through tutoring, internships and financial aid. I'm very thankful and incredibly relieved by the amount of $5,000 of financial support given on my behalf. That is almost half of my current income for a year. Thank you so much." 

A person sitting on a rockDescription automatically generated with low confidence Adrashanti Iyer | University of Arizona | Medicine 

Iyer completed high school with a 4.6 GPA before pursuing a career in medicine at University of Arizona after experiencing some frustrating circumstances as a patient. Iyer volunteered to help others and realized how deep the real-time impact that is made as a health practitioner. 

“I've dreamed of going into medicine since my mom's breast cancer surgery in 2018 and am excited to finally begin my journey. This scholarship will provide me with the assistance I need to take my first steps toward this dream. It’s something that combines all the things I’m passionate about, and provides me with the ability to make real, enduring change in my community.” 

 Angela Ruiz Mayboca | Cochise Community College | Dentistry 

Mayboca is a first-generation college student who graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. Living in a border town with limited healthcare resources, Mayboca has plans to mind the gap for quality care in close proximity to residents. Currently, the majority of dental and healthcare is more than an hour away and an obstacle for many. 

“To me, this scholarship is an open door of possibilities and support. If I come to absolutely adore the career I chose I have this scholarship to thank. If I don't, I still have this scholarship to thank for allowing me to venture and attempt a career of my interest. I am beyond grateful for receiving such a blessing.” 

A person smiling for the cameraDescription automatically generated with medium confidence Meranden Numkena | Arizona State University | Parks & Recreation Management 

A native of Tuba City who is both Hopi and Navajo, Numkena is motivated to protect Arizona’s beautiful natural habitat. With a goal to work for the National Parks, initially as a park ranger, Numkena will educate visitors on Native American heritage and the need to preserve, respect and take care of the environment. 

"With the help of this scholarship, it will thankfully take off stress from my shoulders and encourage me to keep working hard. Seeing that my efforts are being observed and recognized really means a lot to me and I am beyond thankful for these opportunities. Awards like this make me feel much better and help me understand that I am capable of so much." 

A person standing in a gardenDescription automatically generated with medium confidence Levi Pannell | University of Arizona | Medicine 

Having struggled in school as an elementary student, Pannell overcame to graduate high school with a 3.6 GPA despite being homeless for a period of time. That experience drove Pannell to embark on a mission to create better mental health programs to stave off homelessness before it happens. 

"The Empowering Diversity Scholarship will help make my educational dreams become a reality. I come from a single parent household where myself as well as my four siblings were raised solely by my mom. Money has always been tight but that has never stopped my mom from instilling in us that we can do anything with a higher education." 

A person smiling for the cameraDescription automatically generated with medium confidence Sabrina Ross | Arizona State University | Civil Engineering 

Ross is a first-generation, Mexican-American college student who is a native Spanish speaker and learned English later in life. She excelled through hard work in high school, testing into one of Tucson’s most challenging academic schools and posting a 4.0 GPA. Her language journey inspired her to learn sign language on her own and become the co-founder of the French club at her high school, which has grown to include a French International Pen Pal club. 

“I am beyond blessed for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Fiesta Bowl for granting me as the recipient of the Empowering Diversity Scholarship. As a low-income Latina student, the financial relief this has provided me and my family is immense. Being blessed with this scholarship inspires me to pay it forward to my community.” 

A person taking a selfieDescription automatically generated Janae Stevenson | Arizona State University | Political Science 

Stevenson has completed her undergraduate degree at Arizona State and plans to continue her educational journey at the postgraduate level. She wishes to ensure others receive fair treatment under the law with reproductive justice and public health. Active in community service, she served the homeless and youth communities and served as a tutor for youth in grades 6-12. 

"The Empowering Diversity Scholarship will alleviate the financial burden for me to attend my graduate program, and this scholarship will allow more of my time to focus on my education. For a lot of people, including myself, this scholarship and future scholarships will make the difference as to whether I can afford to further my education and the investment others myself." 

 A person in a suit and tieDescription automatically generated with low confidence Ron Tang | A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine | Medicine 

After an undergraduate career at University of Arizona Honors College, Tang serves as president of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association at A.T. Still University. He completed a thesis on “Sleep Duration and Obesity” at Arizona and had his research paper on “Drowsy Driving in Student-Athletes” published in the Oxford Academic SLEEP Journal. His experiences have led him to becoming a physician who will create solutions to emphasize preventative care for vulnerable populations. 

"Being awarded the Empowering Diversity Scholarship helps me be one step closer to this dream of mine. I have the opportunity to become the first member in my family to become a physician and do my part in repairing the complicated relationship between Chinese immigrants and U.S. physicians. I am grateful for the opportunity to receive such assistance and will utilize it in order to fulfill my dream of helping others and hope to one day inspire future generations to do the same."