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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

New scholarship for Mexican-American high school students made available to students at Davis, Woodland High Schools

Recently-founded scholarship offered to honor Mary Ellen Dolcini’s legacy

The Mary Ellen Dolcini Foundation recently announced it will begin presenting “higher education scholarships for graduating high school seniors of Mexican-American heritage,” starting with the Class of 2020, according to the Mary Ellen Dolcini Foundation website

High school seniors who are graduating from Davis and Woodland high schools will be able to apply for the scholarship. This applies to students who are graduating from one of the following schools: Martin Luther King High School, Davis Senior High School, Pioneer High School and Woodland Senior High School. 

The creation of the scholarship was inspired by Mary Ellen Dolcini, who “was a life-long resident and career educator in Davis, California,” according to the foundation’s website. Despite having been a long-time resident of Davis, she was also able to develop a connection to the culture and people of Mexico. Val Dolcini, Mary Ellen Dolcini’s nephew, commented on the inspiration for the scholarship. 

“It was inspired by my aunt who was a lifelong citizen of Davis and a lifelong educator,” Val Dolcini said. “And she started her career with the Davis School District in the 1950s and served in a variety of different functions, but she developed over the course of her life a real connection to Mexico and a love for the people of Mexico and Mexico’s culture.”

The board of directors at the Mary Ellen Dolcini Foundation will choose four students to receive the scholarship after an online application process. Val Dolcini continued to explain the details of the application process.

“The application period is open until the end of March and then the foundation board will review the applications and make awards based on what we receive,” Val Dolcini said. “I think we’re all optimistic that this is going to be a great way for her legacy to continue in our region [and] in her hometown of Davis — the hometown of several of us, [including] my brother and I.” 

Val Dolcini highlighted the role that the Davis community played in Mary Ellen Dolcini’s life.

“It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for her to continue to give to the community that gave so much to her over the course of her life,” Val Dolcini said. 

Cindy Pickett, the board president for the Davis Joint Unified School District, commented on the impact that such scholarships have on students and their academic achievements leading to their college education. 

“The scholarship recognizes these achievements and also sets the stage for having high expectations,” Pickett said. 

According to Pickett, pursuing a college education can be promoted through exposure to role models.

Mary Ellen Dolcini was a well-known teacher in the Davis area who spent her childhood in Davis and later returned to teach. 

“I’ve lived in Davis all my life,” Mary Ellen Dolcini wrote on Nov. 16, 2000. “Oh sure, I went away to college, the University of California at Berkeley, and I taught away for 5 years. But my home and heart were in Davis, so I never really left it.” 

Although this is the first year that the scholarship is offered, the foundation hopes to continue to have a positive impact on education to honor Mary Ellen Dolcini’s legacy with this scholarship in future years, according to Val Dolcini. 

“I hope we [will] definitely get a lot of great applications this and every year,” Val Dolcini said. “This is a foundation that will award scholarships for the long-term future. We really hope that we’re able to get a lot of great, talented and ambitious applicants for these scholarship awards and that we’re able [to] fulfill my aunt’s dream of leaving an important legacy for students of Mexican heritage.”  

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org 


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