Meet the 2024 Helios Ready Now Yuma Scholarship recipients

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Scholarship recipients share their excitement and gratitude: “A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders” 

Helios Education Foundation is proud to announce that six students from Yuma Union High School District have been awarded full-tuition scholarships worth up to $60,000 for a college or university of their choosing in Arizona or beyond.  

The 2024 Helios Ready Now Yuma Scholarship recipients are:  

  • Nalani Acosta, Vista High School, Arizona Western College 
  • Patrick Argomaniz, Yuma High School, Northern Arizona University 
  • Emma Connor, Kofa High School, Boston University 
  • Kirra McDowell, Gila Ridge High School, Arizona State University 
  • Anelys Romo Herrera, San Luis High School, Arizona State University 
  • Grace Villa, Cibola High School, Arizona State University 

These scholars were selected from a pool of 70 qualified applicants considered by Helios and the Arizona Community Foundation. 

“We are so proud to support these outstanding students through the Helios Ready Now Yuma Scholarship,” said Grace Smith Kaus, director of postsecondary success initiatives for Helios Education Foundation. “Their dedication and hard work have earned them this opportunity, and we believe in their potential to transform their lives through postsecondary education. By investing in their future, we are also investing in the future of our communities.” 

In 2019, Helios launched the scholarship program for Yuma’s graduating seniors to ensure more students have the financial resources needed to succeed in postsecondary education, complete their degrees, and help transform their lives.  

One student is selected annually from each of the high schools in the Yuma Union High School District. The scholarship is worth up to $15,000 a year and it’s renewable for up to three additional years. 

This year’s recipients were each given the life-changing news in surprise presentations by their principals, teachers and counselors, complete with oversized checks and balloons.  

Scholarship recipient Grace Villa from Cibola High School is relieved to know her higher education dreams will no longer be a financial burden thanks to the Helios Ready Now Yuma Scholarship.  

“I have all of the money I need to pay for college, and now I’m not going to need loans or anything,” Villa said. 

Emma Connor from Kofa High School also shared her excitement, saying, “This scholarship means everything to my family and me. With this money, a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders. I am no longer dreading school because of the cost — I can now just be excited for my future.” 

Similarly, Anelys Romo Herrera from San Luis High School expressed her gratitude, stating that she felt a weight off her shoulders when she received this scholarship.  

“I am more than grateful to know I have the opportunity to further my education on my passion for the environment with no financial burden,” Romo Herrera said. “I am filled with joy, hope, and support. Receiving this award to me felt like everything I ever worked for actually paid off.” 

Additionally, Patrick Argomaniz from Yuma High School shared what this scholarship means for him, saying, "With this scholarship, I can comfortably pursue my goal of becoming an engineer.”  

In addition to being Helios Ready Now Yuma scholarship recipients, Anelyse, Emma, and Patrick were student ambassadors for College Knowing & Going (CKG), a Helios-funded program operated by Education Forward Arizona that provides high school juniors and seniors attending Arizona schools with access to and assistance with essential college-going practices.  

As student ambassadors, they spent time helping increase college preparation and enrollment across their entire school. A total of 76 students from 30 high schools across Arizona were CKG ambassadors for the 2023-2024 school year.  

Applications for next year’s Helios Ready Now Yuma Scholarship will be made available in January on the Arizona Community Foundation’s website