News Flashes

June 2, 2017

Jenny Chiao Receives Prestigious $20,000 STEM Scholarship from PG&E

Chiao will pursue her bachelor's and master's degrees at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo 

JennyChiaoJenny Chiao walked into a room thinking she was about to be interviewed by a local television station about her upcoming graduation from Allan Hancock College. Little did she know what awaited her inside the room. Chiao, who earned six associate degrees from the college, learned she was one of 20 students in the state to receive a $20,000 scholarship from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

“I saw balloons and a big check, so it looked like I won Publisher’s Clearing House,” Chiao recalled. “I noticed the check said PG&E and $20,000, but I didn’t put it together until they told me why they were there. All of this feels like a dream.”

The scholarship is part of the utility company’s Better Together STEM Scholarship program. Now in its fourth year, the program awards $1 million in scholarships to high school, community college and non-traditional students pursuing higher education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More than 1,000 students applied for the 20 available scholarships.

“PG&E is investing in promising students today because they are the leaders and innovators of tomorrow. The energy industry needs them, our communities need them and California needs them. Our Better Together STEM Scholarships are creating opportunities for today’s students to reach their full potential,” said Pat Mullen, director of PG&E’s Los Padres division.

Chiao will receive $5,000 annually for up to four years to continue her education. She will start classes in the fall at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental engineering. Chiao said the scholarship will make a huge difference and allow her to focus on school and giving back to her community.

“I want to focus my skills to find productive methods to improve our planet’s sustainability and protect public health,” said Chiao. “As an engineer, I hope to work with communities to attain balance between lifestyle, technology, conservation and global health.”

Raised in Southern California, Chiao found a family at the college’s STEM and Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) programs. She became active on campus, tutored, ran study sessions and joined the college’s Science & Engineering Club. During her time at Hancock, Chiao was inspired and amazed by the college’s faculty and staff. A handful of her favorite instructors, who turned out to be her biggest fans, were present for the scholarship announcement.

“To see some of my greatest mentors in the room to share the moment with me was perfect. They all contributed to where I am today,” said Chiao, referring to D.K. Philbin, chemistry instructor; Christine Reed, faculty counselor and MESA coordinator; and Linda Metaxas, physics instructor and academic dean. “I am so inspired by them every day to be a better student, individual and leader. All the recent successes have only made me feel even more honored and grateful to be their student. I cannot stress how meaningful it is that they go above and beyond their jobs for their students, like me.”

Because her Hancock instructors made such a profound impact on her life, Chiao plans to become a professor and give back to her community through education after gaining experience in the engineering industry. She also wants to continue serving as living proof that women can succeed in the STEM fields. When it comes to Chiao, Reed says the sky is the limit.

“Not only is Jenny deserving of this prestigious honor for all her hard work and perseverance in her academics, but it’s also a good investment by PG&E to select her,” said Reed. “She will make a difference in our community on a local, state and national level someday. She has already proven to be an asset to Allan Hancock College and the MESA program.”

This summer, Chiao will participate in the Problem-based Initiatives for Powerful Engagement and Learning in Naval Engineering and Science (PIPELINES) program offered through UC Santa Barbara. The eight-week internship allows students to find the most innovative and effective design solutions to naval engineering and science projects. Chiao also has been accepted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Holland program, which includes a two-year scholarship and paid summer internship. 

February 20, 2014

ExxonMobil Donations Fuel Hancock MESA Students Toward Degrees

Students continue to benefit from company's ongoing support.


What goes around comes around, and recent ExxonMobil scholarship recipient Alber Douglawi has already set his sights on giving to the next generation of students in need, just like ExxonMobil recently did for him.  "I would like to sincerely thank the people at ExxonMobil.  It truly makes a major difference in my life.  This scholarship has inspired me to one day donate scholarship funds so that others may have the same opportunity I had," he said.

Douglawi, a recent Allan Hancock College graduate and current Cal Poly aerospace engineering major, received a $1,000 scholarship from ExxonMobil through the Hancock MESA program that helped to pay for tuition and housing.  Fellow Hancock grad and Cal Poly student Luz Elena Gomez received the same scholarship.  Both are two of the eight students who have benefited over the last three years from ExxonMobil's $15,000 in total donations to students through the college's MESA program.


MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program) provides support services to 125 disadvantaged students at Hancock.  The program helps students pursue bachelor's degrees in science-based fields like biology and engineering.

The donations from ExxonMobil fund scholarships to help Hancock students continue their educations at four-year universities.  Each year, two first-year students receive $500 scholarships.  Two students, who are transferring to four-year universities, are awarded $1,000 scholarships.  The rest of the money goes to support student projects.

"Scholarships and services are vital to assist our students, who are educationally and financially disadvantaged, accomplish their educational and career goals," said Christine Reed, the MESA program coordinator.  "ExxonMobil's gifts make it possible for us to offer more opportunities to our successful transfer students."

"I was able to do very well during my first quarter at Cal Poly and this scholarship had a direct impact on that," added Douglawi, who immigrated from Syria to the United States with his family in 2000.  He was one of eight students in the nation chosen for a prestigious research internship at Cornell University last summer.

Gomez was born in Mexico and grew up in a small, Hispanic community.  She said it was always difficult to find a support group to fuel her passion for science and math until she discovered the MESA program at Hancock.  A biology major at Cal Poly, Luz called the scholarship a blessing.  "The money made my education possible.  I greatly appreciate the faith ExxonMobil and MESA had in me and for helping make my dreams come true," said Luz.  "Without a doubt, joining MESA was the best decision I ever made."

Four more MESA students will receive scholarships this May as a result of ExxonMobil's most recent donation of $5,000.

"ExxonMobil is committed to investing in math and science education because we believe it is key in preparing our youth for the challenges of tomorrow," said Troy Tranquada, ExxonMobil Santa Ynez Unit Operations Superintendent.  "Support for the MESA program and local students furthers their math and science education and better prepares them for careers in those fields."

For more information on the MESA program call program coordinator Christine Reed at 1-805-922-6966, ext.3446 or email at

June 24, 2013

Allan Hancock College Students Land Prestigious Summer Internships

scholarshipsAlber Douglawi is parlaying “the best academic decision he ever made” to attend Allan Hancock College and its MESA program into an internship at Cornell University this summer. He and 18 other students from Hancock’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program have been accepted into competitive internships across the state and nation.

Douglawi will travel the farthest of the group to Ithaca, N.Y., where he will complete a 10-week study in observational astronomy at Cornell. He was one of eight students in the nation chosen for the prestigious undergraduate research internship.

Douglawi, who graduated from Hancock in May, said joining the MESA program allowed him the opportunity to connect with other students studying science and helped him to find and apply for internships. He plans to apply for an internship with NASA next summer, but before that he begins classes in the fall at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, as an aerospace engineering major.

Another recent graduate, Gina Belair, is taking part in an internship at the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University this summer for the second year in a row. During the internship she will receive assistance in applying for graduate school and understanding geoscience and engineering careers. She will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall.

Janel Case, who will be transferring to UC San Diego in the fall, is spending her summer in a nine-week internship with the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at UC Riverside. She will be working with faculty on research projects involving microbial biology.

Three Hancock students were chosen to attend a two-part internship at the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology and the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis. Having completed the first two weeks during the winter break, Danelyn Bagasol, Wilbado Acevedo and Raul Nava will compete the final two weeks of their internship this summer, taking part in seminars designed to help them find future internships and conducting scientific research.

Thirteen MESA students will be conducting their research right in their own backyard as interns in the science labs at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Miranda Evangelista, Oscar Mendoza, Raul Nava, Lluvia Castañeda, Jeanette Barriga, Kristen Justice, Lindsey Cunningham, Alyssa Zuniga, Karla Elias, Sarai Zavala, Jose Ibarra, Ruben Botello and Ian Rojas will have paid internships through a partnership with Cal Poly and the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program.

Hancock was one of only six community colleges in the nation chosen to receive the Bridges to the Baccalaureate grant to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. In addition to internship opportunities, participants in the program are offered assistance to transfer to Cal Poly after finishing their requirements at Hancock. This is the fifth summer that students have had the opportunity to participate in summer internships at Cal Poly through the $848,000 National Institutes of Health grant.

MESA provides support to students pursuing degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and students are encouraged to apply for internships to develop their academic and leadership skills as part of their continuing education. The MESA program is accepting applications for the fall semester until Aug. 30.

Applications can be found online by clicking here, or for more information contact Christine Reed at or 1-805-922-6966 x3446.

May 2, 2012

ExxonMobil Continues to Support Hancock MESA program

MESA at ExxonMobilThe Allan Hancock College Foundation recently accepted a $5,000 donation from ExxonMobil to help support the college’s Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program.

“ExxonMobil is committed to investing in math and science education because we believe it is key in preparing our youth for the challenges of tomorrow,” said Troy Tranquada, ExxonMobil Santa Ynez Unit Operations Superintendent.  “Support for the MESA program and local students furthers their math and science education and better prepares them for careers in those fields.” 

MESA at ExxonMobilThe MESA program at Allan Hancock College provides disadvantaged students with the skills necessary to transfer to four-year universities and pursue bachelor’s degrees in math-based fields such as science and engineering.  Currently 125 students take part in the program, and a record number of those students will be transferring to a four-year university this semester, according to Christine Reed, Hancock’s MESA counselor/coordinator.  The recent donation from ExxonMobil will go toward funding scholarships for those students.

Brooke Kalusky, a bio-psychology major and MESA student, is graduating this spring and transferring to a four-year university.  She has applied to three University of California schools and has already been accepted to the University of California, Santa Barbara.  

“I spend at least 50 hours a week studying and it can be really hard to work even part-time,” she said.  “I’m really thankful for companies like ExxonMobil who support student scholarships.”

This is the fourth donation that ExxonMobil has given to the MESA program.  In August 2011, Tranquada presented MESA with a $2,000 donation.

April 25, 2012

AHC MESA Student Wins Regional Math Award

MESA at ExxonMobilNearly 200 students from 21 community colleges competed in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program’s third annual Math Challenge and it was Allan Hancock College student German Morales who took the top place.

“German is a wonderful student and we are so pleased to have him represent the college’s MESA program,” said Christine Reed, Hancock’s MESA counselor/coordinator.  “We are so proud of him and know he has a bright future ahead.”

Morales said he was surprised to get the top score because his thoughts were on another test waiting for him in one of his classes that same afternoon. Focusing on academics has paid off for Morales, who was recently accepted as a mechanical engineering major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and the University of California, Davis.

“Everything I’ve experienced in MESA has been great so far. They’ve really put me on track to go to a four-year university,” Morales said.

Seven Hancock students took part in the Math Challenge, which was held in the MESA Center on the Santa Maria campus on March 21. The 60-minute test was modeled after the American Mathematical Association’s Student Math League test and was sponsored by the CPA and business consulting firm, Vasquez & Company LLP, who provided professionals to assist with grading the tests.

“The Math Challenge allows students to gain recognition for their problem solving skills and helps alleviate the stress that often comes with test preparation,” said Tiffany Reardon, who oversees the MESA Community College Program.

Currently 125 students are involved in the MESA program at Allan Hancock College, which provides disadvantaged students with the skills necessary to transfer to four-year universities and pursue bachelor’s degrees in math-based fields such as science and engineering.

August 16, 2011

ExxonMobil Donation Supports Hancock MESA Program

The Allan Hancock College Foundation recently accepted a $2,000 donation from ExxonMobil to help support the college's Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. Troy Tranquada, Operations Supervisor for ExxonMobil, made the presentation at the August 16 Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees meeting. ExxonMobil has given to the college for many years, and this is the third donation directed to the MESA program, which Tranquada believes "is a good fit" as the next generation of students help develop new energy sources. "MESA's focus is to encourage education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)," said Tranquada. "And the future will require a global population very skilled in math and science. MESA is helping to make that happen."

Pictured from left are José Ortiz, Ed.D., Allan Hancock College superintendent/ president; MESA students Brooke Kalusky and Joanna Ortiz; Christine Reed, Hancock's MESA counselor/coordinator; students Tyler Swope and Heather Adams; Tranquada; and students Alejandro Gutierrez and Juan Gutierrez-Franco.

March 16, 2011

Digital Literacy Project Equips Students to Train Others

Fifty students in the Allan Hancock College Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, including Cesia Cazares pictured right, were awarded laptops March 14 and 15 as part of a statewide program designed to increase digital literacy rates among underserved communities in California.

The laptops, which are also being distributed to students at 32 other community colleges throughout the state, come fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology provided by many of today's top communications and technology companies, including Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, AT&T and Insight Technology Solutions. With laptops in hand, the Allan Hancock College students will prepare for training members of the community who otherwise would not have access to or knowledge of navigating the Internet.

"We're pleased with the number of Allan Hancock College MESA students who have chosen to accept this challenge of teaching members of their community how to use a computer to better their lives. This program is a win-win for both students and the community, and Allan Hancock College is proud to support it," said Christine Reed, the college's MESA program academic specialist.

The laptops are available thanks to California Connects, a federally-funded statewide program designed to increase digital literacy and broadband access among underserved communities. California Connects is funded by a $10.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Approximately 3,000 students at community colleges throughout the state have earned the laptop computers by agreeing to train others over the coming months.

The participating MESA students will be provided with hands-on training in the coming months to prepare them for educating others on how to gain access to and navigate the Internet, all in an effort to increase California's broadband Internet users by more than 61,000 individuals over the next three years and positively impact the digital divide that still exists in many communities. MESA students will use the applications they've learned to teach new users how to use the Internet for essential tasks such as securing gainful employment, exploring higher education opportunities, accessing health and finance resources, utilizing social networks and advancing their general quality of life.

Reed is interested in working with leaders of local churches, social organizations and community programs to coordinate the computer literacy effort. Those interested in having members of their organization receive training should contact her at 922-6966 ext. 3348 or

Over the next three years, a total of 5,800 laptops will be distributed to MESA students at 33 California community college campuses.

Additional details about the program are available at

July 28, 2010

ExxonMobil Donation Supports Hancock MESA Program

SANTA MARIA-The Allan Hancock College Foundation recently accepted a donation from ExxonMobil to help support the college's Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program.  Frank Betts, Operations Supervisor for ExxonMobil, made the presentation at the July 20 Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees meeting.  Although Exxon has given to the college for many years, this is the first donation directed to the MESA program, which Betts believes "is a good fit" as the next generation of students help develop new energy sources.

Pictured from left are Betts; José Ortiz, Allan Hancock College superintendent/president; MESA students Gerardo Toledo, Ryan Bermudez, Jillian Davenport and Luis Garcia; and Christine Reed, the college's MESA counselor/coordinator.



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