Two SASS Recipients Awarded NSF Scholarships

SASS recipients Rick Alarcon and Amado Flores have received National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarships. This is Rick’s first NSF scholarship. Amado also received an NSF scholarship in 2014. Both Rick and Amado will receive associate degrees in June.

Rick Alarcon


Rick’s next step will be to pursue a bachelors degree in economics or operations research and management science while Amado plans to transfer to university to study civil engineering.

A native of Peru, Rick came to the US when he was 20. He started taking ESL at Sequoia District Adult School, then, in 2013, received a SASS scholarship and transitioned to Canada College. Recent courses have run the gamut from macroeconomics to differential equations, art history to physical anthropology.

Rick’s goal is a career that combines economics with computer science. “Maybe I’ll work as an investment banker or for the Federal Reserve Bank,” Rick said. “I’m looking forward to exploring all of my options.”

Amado Flores


When Amado came to the US from Mexico in 2011, he started at zero. “I couldn’t communicate in English. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have any experience in this country,” Amado says.

Soon after he came in the US, Amado found a minimum wage job at a Mexican restaurant. He also enrolled in ESL classes at Sequoia District Adult School, then started taking ESL classes at Cañada College. After completing the ESL sequence at Cañada, Amado has taken classes in calculus, physics, history, engineering, and sociology, and works part-time as a student tutor at Cañada’s computer center. For the past two summers, Amado worked as an intern at NASA Ames.

During his tenure at Canada College, Amado has received more than $2,000 in scholarships from SASS, which have paid for textbooks and bus passes to and from college.

“What is amazing to me about this country is that there are people here who are willing to help people they don’t know, without judging them, without saying, ‘Oh, you are undocumented. Oh, you are Mexican. Oh, you are too old to go to school’.” Amado says, “Thanks to these people, I have been able to achieve what I didn’t believe I could achieve.”