Less college debt. A laptop computer.
These are some of the plans Gunn High School seniors said they have for scholarship funds awarded this week.
In an outdoor lunch under campus oak trees Tuesday, the volunteer-led Gunn Foundation awarded need-based scholarships to 31 seniors at the school.
"This will give me the opportunity to get out of school with a smaller debt," said Avery Sredanovich, who will go to the University of California at Berkeley with a tentative plan to major in business.
Jonathan Alvarez plans to study information technology at Foothill College and transfer to a four-year institution.
Sally Yilma, heading for the University of California at Santa Cruz, said she plans to buy herself a laptop. Yilma now borrows them from the Gunn library.
Natalia Antonova plans to use her scholarship to study applied mathematics at the University of California at Irvine. Antonova's mother, Olga Krup, said the family moved to Palo Alto from Russia two years ago to find better opportunities for Natalia, who is hearing-impaired.
In Russia there was no extra support or access to higher education for deaf students, Krup said. At Gunn and at UC Irvine, Natalia qualifies for services such as note-taking help and test accommodations.
"The Gunn program for deaf and hard of hearing was a great support," Krup said. "Here we have the opportunity for the kids to study and work and be independent." Natalia, who uses hearing aids, is now considering cochlear implantation.
The Gunn Foundation has existed since 1968 to support the postsecondary plans college or further training of graduating seniors, said board co-president Kimberley Cowell, an assistant principal at Gunn.
This year's awards range from $500 to $3,500.
"We're supporting you, not in a major way in some respects, but at least in a small way to reach your dreams," Cowell told the recipients and their parents.
She asked each student to stand and declare study plans, which included biology, business, chemical engineering, computer science, early childhood education, economics, engineering, English literature, environmental science, farming, nursing, psychology and public health.
This year's Gunn Foundation scholarship recipients are Hellen Abraham, Jonathan Alvarez, Natalia Antonova, Katie Arca, Jigisha Bhowmik, Karla Bravo, Katrina Bustos, Anna Cabot, Nicole Cahlander, Leyla Carefoot, Araceli Castaneda-Ramirez, Diana Contreras, Francisco (Paco) Covarrubias, Jasmine Gonzalez, Dalonna Jackson, Lauren Johnson, Xi (Mark) Ling, Adriana Lomeli, Jingya (Lauren) Luo, anessa Manuel, Andres Martinez, Alejandro Navarro, Wonji Park, Darshan Patil, Hitomi Sakakibara, Mauricio Sanchez, Avery Sredanovich, Hansen Wu, Brigitte Yerena, Selamawit (Sally) Yilma and Regina (Raina) Yusufova.
Board members are Anupam Bordia, Julie Carver Cardillo, Cowell, Lynn Drake, Markus Fromherz, Butch Garcia, Jean Hsia, Anna Kelly, Joan Lin, Reni Narayen, Lynne Russell and Beth Sears.