Staff Report

Students and donors received celebrity treatment during a star-studded evening in the Joe White Memorial Gymnasium at the Allan Hancock College Foundation Scholarship Banquet on Thursday evening. This year, a total of 410 scholarships, worth nearly $500,000, was awarded to 318 Allan Hancock College students.

Hancock student Annalise Ketz received the prestigious Marian Hancock Scholarship. Named in honor of the late wife of Captain G. Allan Hancock, the scholarship is awarded to one outstanding student each year who exemplifies service to the school, scholastic achievement and personal conduct.

“I just want to thank you all for this incredible honor,” said Ketz, who will transfer to the United States Naval Academy in the fall, moments after her name was announced as the scholarship winner. “I think it is just as important to remember where you come from, your history; never forget your roots and who you are. I am so grateful to the college for giving me my start. I really do feel like I can go anywhere.”

Ketz will graduate with high honors and a 4.0 grade point average on Friday. She will transfer to the Naval Academy with an associate degree in mathematics and an emphasis in physics. Ketz plans to continue studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and obtain her bachelor’s degree in nuclear or electrical engineering. Ultimately, she would like to contribute to the nation’s space exploration program as an astronaut.

“I want to help empower women to seek careers in STEM and do STEM with excellence,” added Ketz. “I want to challenge women to reshape their thoughts on how they can use their talents to help people by using engineering skills.”

A scholarship committee composed of 15 Hancock faculty and staff determined the recipients from more than 1,100 applications. Applicants did not know the specific scholarship or dollar amount until they met the donor at the reception.

“I’d like to thank the 200 donors for investing in us and supporting us,” said Frankie Maldonado, president of Hancock’s Associated Student Body Government. “Your generosity means we can pay for tuition and books and in many cases rent, gas, childcare and even food. Your gift means we can work fewer hours, focus on school and continue to rise to new heights.”

Since its creation in 1977, the foundation has helped thousands of students succeed and pursue a college education. The theme of this year’s event was “Rising Stars” as a tribute to the scholarship recipients.

 “Perhaps it is because of my own personal experience that I know first-hand the importance of receiving a scholarship and feeling directed, nurtured, connected and valued,” said Nohemy Ornelas, Hancock associate superintendent/vice president of Student Services. “I know the importance of having someone in your corner encouraging you along the way.”

In 2001, Ornelas received a scholarship at the very same banquet. Seventeen years later, she gave the keynote address at the event.

 “You’re already on the right track by pursuing a college education,” she told students. “Whether you are about to continue your education here or transfer to a four-year university, the message I have for you is to embrace the concept that you matter, and it is important to recognize your talents and abilities.”

The foundation awarded eight new scholarships this year including the Boricua Scholarship provided by former Hancock Superintendent/President Jose M. Ortiz, Ph.D. The foundation also established the Elizabeth Osborne Scholarship. Osborne received the Marian Hancock Scholarship in 1981. She currently teaches high school in the Santa Maria Valley.

Since 2013, the Allan Hancock College Foundation has awarded 1,948 students a total of $2,868,000 in scholarships. This was the fifth straight year the foundation awarded 400 or more scholarships totaling around $500,000.

The college will host its 97th annual Commencement Friday, May 25, at 1 p.m. in The Commons. During the 2017-18 academic year a record 1,009 students earned a combined 1,527 associate degrees. Several hundred students are expected to participate in the ceremony. The ceremony will be streamed live online at