“Building a mall ignited my interest.”
For Balboa High School graduate Maritza Juarez, her interest in math and science started when she was assigned to build a model of a mall for a school project.
“Ever since that project, math and science became my favorite subjects,” said Juarez. “The teachers gave us a plan to build a mall and we had the opportunity to develop the building however way we wanted it to be. We were encouraged to use our creativity and that was when I discovered I liked math and the structural aspects of buildings.”
Juarez took AP calculus in her senior year and enjoyed the challenge of it. As she continued to excel in math and science courses, she soon learned about the Maisin Scholarship program through a school counselor.
The Maisin Scholar Award Program is sponsored by the SFPUC and its social impact partners, Carollo Engineers and Water Resources Engineering, Inc., and was designed to identify and support students who are determined to achieve their academic goals beyond high school. The award helps San Francisco public students overcome the financial obstacles that stand in between them and their pursuits of higher education.
“My counselor not only helped my throughout the college application process, but she also helped me apply for schools and look for opportunities with financial aid,” shared Juarez. “She referred and encouraged me to apply for the scholarship.”
Juarez knew that if she applied, it would open doors and bring some financial relief as she starts her college journey. Her counselor encouraged Juarez to take the opportunities that were given to her.
Juarez is the recipient of the Dr. Espanola Jackson scholarship in honor of the long-time civil rights and community advocate for the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. Juarez is college-bound to Sacramento State University majoring in engineering. After college, she wants to return to San Francisco and work for the City and County and hopes to help the community she grew up in and give back, standing on the shoulders of community advocates like Dr. Espanola Jackson.
“I would like to fix up public spaces, like parks and rec centers because that’s where I spent most of my time as a kid,” said Juarez. “Working with kids this summer before going to college, I’m always moving around to different parks with them. I noticed that there is opportunity to improve the playgrounds and green spaces, so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors.”
Juarez advises young people to get out of their comfort zone and be open to opportunities that are given to them. “Because who knows? Maybe someone else will be inspired by a school project and find their passion and future path,” she said.