SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) - After overcoming the odds in high school, a San Ysidro woman is now giving back to teenagers at her alma mater, hoping to encourage them to pursue an education.
Julissa Muñiz spent most of her childhood in San Ysidro and was an active teenager before her life changed while a student at San Ysidro High School.
“I was the golden child in my family. I was doing really well academically, I was really involved in school and ROTC and basketball and different clubs. I was class presidents. Then the summer between my 9th and 10th-grade year, I got pregnant,” she said.
She said her incredible support system helped get her through the pregnancy and she made it back to school, ending on a high note.
“It was never a question of if I would finish. In fact, I did finish, I graduated with honors and I received a full ride to Berkeley,” she said.
Her long academic career began with an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, then a Master’s from Harvard and most recently a PhD from Northwestern.
She said last year, she decided to give back to her community, creating a scholarship for graduating seniors from San Ysidro High School.
“If I’m being completely honest, my goal was initially to fundraise $1,000, like if we can offer one scholarship in the amount of $1,000, that would be incredible,” she said.
She exceeded that by a landslide, raising more than $10,000 in just one week back in 2021. She ultimately gave out three $2,000 scholarships and saved the rest for this year, now hoping to continue to raise money for the second round of scholarships.
Her goal is to support first-generation BIPOC students, like herself, and encourage them to seek out an education.
“That’s another big component of the scholarship, we’re looking for our future leaders. Young people who in the future are going to come back to San Ysidro and San Diego more broadly and have impact,” she said.
Click here to find out how to donate to the fund, or for current San Ysidro seniors to apply. The application for the 2022 graduating class is open through July 1.