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Cal Poly student, Paso Robles alumni receives $5k scholarship 

Seven Cal Poly students received renewable scholarships under a partnership between Dignity Health and the university’s Cal Poly Scholars program in February. Front row, from left: Rieanin Zamora of Long Beach; Valeria Diego of Sacramento; Emmaline Voorheis of Paso Robles; and Jumeika Lopez-Artaega of Seaside. Back row, from left: CommonSpirit Health Darryl Robinson; Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong; student Byungcheol So of Torrance; and Alan Iftinuik of Dignity Health’s French Hospital Medical Center. Not shown are students Serena Cortez of Menifee; and Madelin Skinner of Santa Rosa.

–Seven Cal Poly students — including Emmaline Voorheis from Paso Robles — were awarded renewable scholarships under a partnership between Dignity Health and the university’s Cal Poly Scholars program for first-generation college students and underrepresented groups on campus.

Under the arrangement, scholarships of $5,000 per year for up to five years were awarded to qualifying students seeking careers in the medical or health fields and who are majoring in biology, biochemistry, nutrition, kinesiology or business. This supplemental funding will offset some of the costs for tuition and housing while students pursue a bachelor’s degree.

The inaugural group of Dignity Health Scholars, all from the Golden State, were honored Feb. 7 at an on-campus reception. They include: Serena Cortez of Merifee; Valeria Diego of Sacramento; Jumeika Lopez-Arteaga of Seaside; Madelin Skinner of Santa Rosa; Byungcheol So of Torrance; Emmaline Voorheis of Paso Robles; and Rieanin Zamora of Long Beach. Four are studying nutrition, two are biochemistry majors and one is a biology major.

Voorheis is an 18-year-old freshman biology student. She graduated from Paso Robles High School in 2018, where she was on the staff of the Crimson Newsmagazine for four years. She said she was honored to receive the scholarship that will aid her as she seeks a career in the field of medicine. Growing up in San Luis Obispo County, Cal Poly was a natural fit for her. “Cal Poly has great science programs and puts a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and success, something that stood out amongst the other colleges I was considering as a senior in high school,” Voorheis said. “Professor accessibility is very helpful, especially in my more difficult chemistry and biology classes.” She hopes to graduate in 2022.

On hand for the reception were university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, Alan Iftiniuk, the president and CEO of Dignity Health’s French Hospital Medical Center, and Darryl Robinson, chief human resources officer at CommonSpirit Health.

Armstrong thanked the hospital chain for its generous donation “and for the opportunities it will provide.”

“We know that the resources our students receive from generous donors like Dignity Health make a profound impact on their educations and ultimately in their lives,” he said. “I am confident that these young people will go on to distinguish themselves and to become leaders in their respectful fields. That’s the power of a Learn by Doing education.”

The 7-year-old Cal Poly Scholars program supports high-achieving students from lower-income California households, providing them with competitive scholarship packages that include annual housing support and a technology credit at the university bookstore towards the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet. Students participate in proactive advising and a living/learning community to support their educational success.

Piloted in fall 2012 in the College of Engineering, the first cohort included 11 eligible partner high school graduates. The program expanded in 2014 and now spans across all six academic colleges. It continues to grow each year; this past September, Cal Poly increased the total number of students served to 260.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at