2020 Edison Scholars (pictured l-r): Valentina Costarelli will attend CalTech, Devin Cooke will attend Pepperdine University and Itzel Villanueva will attend USC in the fall.

High school senior Itzel Villanueva’s - Opens in new window passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) is something she has shared as a math tutor. And she is not letting the current pandemic stop her from teaching her students.

“Before the pandemic, I was tutoring elementary kids, so now I’ve been hopping on Zoom class calls with my little sister, and I’ve been able to tutor her fifth-grade class in math,” said Villanueva, a senior at Orange Vista High School - Opens in new window who will be attending USC - Opens in new window this fall to study mechanical engineering.

The virtual time we’re in right now is a struggle, but I do see the light within the situation. It feels like a preview to the college experience and learning to adapt to different environments is an important life skill.”

Devin Cooke, 2020 Edison Scholar

Villanueva is one of this year’s 30 Edison Scholars who will receive $40,000 scholarships to support their pursuit of STEM at a four-year college or university. And despite the stay-at-home order, these scholars are finding new and innovative ways to give back to their communities.

Last Friday, Villanueva joined 29 other Edison Scholars - Opens in new window for a virtual reception hosted by Edison International to celebrate their scholarships.

“The virtual time we’re in right now is a struggle, but I do see the light within the situation,” said Devin Cooke - Opens in new window, a senior at University High School Charter - Opens in new window who will attend Pepperdine University - Opens in new window this fall, “It feels like a preview to the college experience and learning to adapt to different environments is an important life skill.”

From learning graphic design to relearning chemistry, several Edison Scholars - Opens in new window shared new skills they have delved into with newfound time at home. Valentina Costarelli - Opens in new window has even begun thinking about hologram technology and how beneficial it would be for people who are unable to see their families at this time.

“I have been looking forward to the virtual reception for a long time,” said Costarelli, the first female from Quartz Hills High School - Opens in new window to be admitted to Caltech - Opens in new window. “It was an honor to be able to have a conversation with the executives from Edison, albeit virtually.”

The students were congratulated virtually by: Pedro Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International; Kevin Payne, Southern California Edison president and CEO; Caroline Choi, Edison International and SCE senior vice president of Corporate Affairs; Tricia Joyner, SCE principal manager of Talent Acquisition and Angelica Guzman, an SCE intern-turned-full-time employee who works as an electrical engineer.

“We are so proud of your resilience,” said Pizarro. “A lot of you are saying ‘thank you,’ but I just want to say, you’ve all earned it.”

Although the students are missing out on important senior high school events, their advice to peers remains positive.

“This pandemic has shown me life will throw different obstacles at you along the way, but you have to remain headstrong, push forward and be able to strategize against the unknown,” said Cooke.

The $40,000 scholarships will be paid over four years under Edison International’s annual $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program. The program is funded entirely by shareholder dollars.

Students graduating from high school in 2021 can apply to be an Edison Scholar this fall.

To learn more, visit edisonscholars.com - Opens in new window.

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