Now a senior at Sylmar High School, Pedro is working to pull his C+ average up to a B to assure acceptance at either Cal State Northridge or Cal State Fullerton. "School is hard," he said, "but I just gotta pay attention and do my work."
Despite those few students who have fallen through the cracks, sponsors say the program has been a success. So far, four scholars have graduated from college, including one from Brown University, and nearly 20 students are enrolled in colleges ranging from CSUN and UCLA to Loyola Marymount and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
From the time Adrianna Guerrero was in the third grade, her parents have been drumming college into her head. But there was always the concern of how they would pay for it.
"Once I got the scholarship, I knew that I had a greater chance to go on," said Adrianna, 17, a senior at San Fernando High and the oldest of five children.
"I've seen the scholars go on to college, and I heard of one who went to a foreign university and it made me think I can do that too," she said. "With [the scholarship] and financial aid and maybe a loan, I can afford it."
With a solid B average and a handful of advanced-placement classes to her credit, Adrianna is applying for early admission to several universities in Illinois, a state she visited last summer and liked.
Krischer said he hopes more students go to out-of-state colleges for the added benefit of experiencing a different place. Most of the scholars are apprehensive about going far from home, with some students reluctant to even go as far as Orange County and San Diego.
For the moment, Krischer said, "if most of these kids attend and a good percentage of those finish college, I think that's pretty good. That's what we're shooting for."
For Jenny Jimenez, the goal is more personal.
"I just think about walking across the stage at college graduation and getting that diploma in my hand and knowing how proud my parents would be and how much this scholarship helped to make it all real."