Dorsey High senior Mark Thomas, 18, is bound for UC Berkeley in the fall, the first step toward a law degree. But, Thomas will tell you, tongue partially in cheek, a career in law is "just a steppingstone. I want to become a judge. And I also want to have a seat in the state Assembly. And my ultimate goal is to become a Supreme Court justice."
Thomas has just received a helping hand from the Southern California Gas Co. He picked up a $2,000 college scholarship (payable to the school at $500 a year) and a guarantee of a summer job each of four years in college, a job worth a total of $12,000.
The son of a single mother, who is disabled and unable to work, Thomas said money "was and is" a problem and "college wouldn't be possible without the assistance." (He has received two state grants and other scholarship money as well.)
Thomas, who's been active in his school service club and initiated the peer counseling program at Dorsey, has also been involved in Inroads, a program that helps minority students find summer internships in their fields of interest. He has had several interviews himself, he said, but nothing has jelled yet for this summer. He added, "Maybe when they see the article in the newspaper they'll call me."
The Gas Co. scholarships are corporate grants with a difference. High school counselors were asked to nominate students on the basis of desire and potential for higher education, and financial need, rather than outstanding scholastic accomplishment.
Among the 35 recipients this year is Douglas Perez, 20, a senior at Los Angeles High. In the fall he will be headed for Cal Poly-Pomona to study electronics engineering.
Perez, whose father is dead, works after school to help his mother, a $500-a-month seamstress in a garment factory.
At 20, he is older than his peers in the graduating class. He explained, "I was raised in Nicaragua. When I came (here) almost five years ago, they didn't accept my grades. I had to learn English and then go to regular classes.
"I really need the money," he said of the scholarship. "My mom is also very, very happy."
. . On the Bright Side
With 78 gallons of donated paint, donated brushes and rollers and donated lunches, students from Jefferson High School descended on a blighted South-Central neighborhood Saturday morning for a "paint-out."
Their targets were the Neighborhood Market on South Compton Avenue and a graffiti-covered empty building at 56th Street and Central Avenue, where the owner had given both his blessings and the supplies.
The student painters, most of them members of their school's Key Club, were joined in the "paint-out" by volunteers from the Vernon/Central Neighborhood Housing Services program, a community-based nonprofit organization, one of the NHS affiliates that have been working to change the face of neighborhoods in 200 U.S. communities by providing loans and organizing community beautification projects.
Eloise McGhee, student coordinator for the clean-up, said Jefferson High had recently won a campus beautification contest sponsored by L.A. Unified School District and "now (we) want to help beautify the school's community."
Homes Sought for Pets
It's a sad time for Belinda Scott, a cancer victim who is moving to Virginia to spend her last days with her family.
The move means that Scott must part with her beloved pets, including two dogs and an array of cats and kittens. She has called on Animal Alliance, a nonprofit humane group for help.
"We have taken in as many of her animals as we possibly can," Martha Wyss, Animal Alliance director, said. "There is still a three-legged Malamute male named Lucky, a gentle, lovely dog, that she rescued and saved when he was hit by a car."
Scott also is looking for homes for a female dachshund mix who is a year old and spayed and several cats and kittens. Anyone interested may call Animal Alliance at (213) 208-8009; the number to call evenings is (213) 475-3331.
A Yen to Help Youngsters
Arigato gozaimasu. That means "thank you very much" in Japanese, and it's a response to an earlier People in View item about Cienega Elementary School fourth-graders who needed a touch of financial aid for a field trip to Little Tokyo.
Well, thanks to generous readers, they got it.
Donations came in from individuals and from Kids for Kids, a Beverly Hills group of youngsters who pooled their allowances, got their mothers to take them to Cienega School and presented a check to the children in Esther Pike's class.
"Not only was this such an unselfish act, but the mothers had brought special candy (Japanese) and a special carp fish signed by all the donating youngsters," Pike said. "I provided cookies and they sat with my children and talked and answered questions. It was so beautiful I wanted to cry!"
Mitsui Bank, true to its promise, chipped in $250 for the field trip June 18 for the inner-city school children who have been studying Japan. The bank's and the private contributions will pay for bus transportation and lunch at the New Otani's "A Thousand Cranes," where the kids will take their shoes off clean feet--Pike is quite firm about clean feet that day--and sit on the floor to eat with chopsticks.