Celeste Puente-Bedolla is eager to begin her college education at UCLA, but admits she’ll miss the picturesque mountains that serve as a background to the west of Granite Hills High School.
Puente-Bedolla, one-of-two Dell Scholars from Granite Hills High (Jasmine Mejía is the other), enters UCLA as an undeclared major, but in the life sciences division.
Puente-Bedolla also earned the Ruiz For Kids scholarship. She said her entire scholarship funds total about $36,000.
Dell Scholars receive a Dell laptop, tutoring and scholarship funds to pay for college.
“I was thinking biology. I want to be a physical therapist,” said Puente-Bedolla, 17, whose birthday is Oct. 31. She also played tennis for Granite Hills, “I’m really going to miss these mountains here.”
Farmworker health is a concern for Puente-Bedolla because of her parents, José Manuel Puente and Elvia Puente, both immigrants from Michoacán, México. Celeste’s parents have worked the fields for nearly 25 years.
“I’d want to come back to the Central Valley to help the farmworkers,” she said, “They really don’t get the help they need. My dad broke his ribs because he was working in oranges and fell off the ladder.”
José Manuel suffered his injury last year during the citrus season. Celeste believes injuries to farm workers too often do not receive proper care.
Despite Puente-Bedolla’s older sister, Mayra Puente, already a student at San Diego State University, Celeste believes the tradition of Mexican families still need assurance of sending their daughters away to college.
She hopes the path to college for her and Mayra will only be easier for younger siblings, Tanya, 11, and Iris, 4.
“I just know they don’t have the money to send me there,” she said of the cost and the need of scholarships, “They wanted me at San Diego. Even though they went for my sister’s graduation last year.”
Celeste’s strong grade point average at Granite Hills, which was higher than 4.0, allowed for a wide choice of colleges, including UC San Diego, Long Beach State and Fresno State, among several others.
Celeste said the best advice she received in high school came from her AVID teacher: “Not to be influenced by others, do what we want to do, not just go to a prestigious university, but one we like and are going to enjoy,” she said “And not to let money stop you from your dreams because you can’t afford it.”