Two Piedra Vista High School seniors, Zachary Austin and Kerstin Ortiz, were presented with the inaugural Cal Mayfield Memorial Scholarships at the senior awards assembly in the Turano-Chrisman Performing Arts Theater at the high school. The students have family members who were diagnosed with cancer.
The $500 each student received was a part of $10.5 million in scholarships earned by the Piedra Vista senior class, Financial Aid College Entrance advisor Natalie Stark said during the assembly.
The scholarship was founded following the death of Cal Mayfield, an area businessman and entrepreneur, who lost his battle with lung cancer in May 2010.
Mayfield's widow, Fran, who is the application committee chairwoman, said the goal of the scholarship program was to help with financial hardship felt by the families of students dealing with hospital bills.
"These students have faced a lot of adversity in their life because of cancer," Fran said. "We realized (that) the emotional toll ... it takes on someone to deal with that in their lives and still go forward needs recognition."
Fran and Cal Mayfield's sister-in-law Lori Kitts presented Ortiz and Austin their certificates during the awards assembly.
The students received the scholarships based on their essays about how cancer has affected their lives.
"It feels great and we really appreciate it," Ortiz said. "Every little bit helps toward college."
Ortiz said she wrote her essay about her father and uncle's fight with cancer. Her father Donny Ortiz is currently in remission with thyroid cancer and uncle John Ortiz is still battling lung cancer.
Austin said he wrote about how he has adjusted to life following the death of his mother Sharla K.
Buoy-Austin in July of 2011, during his sophomore year.
"It was kind of rough talking about it to other people," Austin said. "But it happens to everyone, we just have to get through it."
Cal Mayfield's son, Jake, said the scholarship is designated for one student but the committee wasn't able to decided between Austin and Ortiz. It was Fran Mayfield and Kitts who donated money from their personal finances to give the scholarships to both students.
"My dad valued hard work very much and we wanted to recognize Zach for the hard work he has done," Jake said. "We recognized Kerstin for making the best of what she has been given."
Joshua Kellogg can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.