Year-round WAEF donors make dreams come true for amazing students. Those of us that have been given the fortune of getting to work for the foundation and interact daily with these amazing men and women know how meaningful your generosity is to this outstanding group. While we hope we express regularly our appreciation for the opportunities granted to so many, especially at this time of year we want to share how much your support matters.
Chelan High School alumni and WAEF scholarship recipients Stephanie Olivera (left) and Dianna Sanchez (right) first met riding the same school bus in elementary school. Their friendship has grown and the two are now roommates at WSU supporting each other in their pursuits to continue their families’ legacies in the tree fruit industry.
Both women shared that their interest in the industry began at very young ages and was heavily influenced by their parents work in the industry.
Dianna: “As a kid I grew up around the orchards and was taught the importance of agriculture. I eventually began working summers in cherry harvest. When I joined FFA in high school, I realized it was interesting to identify apple varieties and pests. FFA gave me an understanding that the tree fruit industry is far more than just farmwork; it’s a solid career choice with many components that make it successful and I knew wanted to be a part of that. My Dad emphasized the importance of agriculture to me as a kid having me help grow and garden and tend to our farm animals. He inspired me to become a part of the tree fruit industry. He was so passionate about the success of the orchards he managed and willingly shared his knowledge which helped me succeed with pest management and pomology classes while I attended WVC.”
Dianna completed her first two years of college at Wenatchee Valley College before transferring this year to WSU. She shared that she was at first devastated that she wasn’t able to go to university right out of high school but now realizes it was truly a blessing for her. While the courses specific to the tree fruit industry and the knowledgeable, experienced faculty made this choice professionally and academically highly worthwhile for her, the true blessing was the additional time at home with her dad. One year following her high school graduation her father was killed in a tractor accident. Attending college at WVC gave her an extra year at home with her dad followed by a second year at home supporting her mom and sister. “Honestly, I often miss home and worry about my family, but the Coug spirit and my drive to succeed gets me through it.”
In five years, Dianna sees herself working for a company as a researcher or horticulturalist in the Wenatchee valley. She wants to remain in Chelan County but is still keeping her options open. “Many of my friends and I share similar career interests and pathways, so hopefully we’ll stay connected and encourage each other to grow!”
Likely, she and her roommate and friend Stephanie will continue to push each other to grow. Stephanie currently sees her tree fruit industry career possibly in production or sales sharing she’ll know better after completing a few internships. She sees the friendships she’s developing through college as crucial to her success and an opportunity to grow and learn from each other, “I have seen first-hand the way my older siblings rely on each other for information. They both work in different areas within the agriculture industry are constantly asking one another questions relating to their focuses in the industry.”
Stephanie began her path back to the industry as a Food Science major, but soon realized that path didn’t provide her the opportunity to utilize her skills to their potential, “I wanted my career in agriculture to be something I truly enjoyed doing, and thus why I chose my double major of Agricultural and Food Business Economics and Agricultural Economics.” She found in high school she had really enjoyed mathematical analysis. By taking her passion for analysis and the inspiration she gets from her parents’ hard work and devotion to the industry, she can further her family’s legacy in the tree fruit industry.
Stephanie’s academic path is taking her to Florence, Italy this spring with WSU’s School of Economic Sciences. The trip will be focused on the social economy of food and natural resources. In addition to lessons learned in class, Stephanie sees this as supporting one of her career interests to work internationally for the industry, “Italy has different agricultural products, but I will still be able to learn about their specialty crops and compare with our own. I am incredibly ecstatic for this adventure, and I can’t wait to see all the new knowledge it will bring!”
What are the women most thankful for this Thanksgiving season?
Dianna: “I’m thankful for the endless support I have from my family, my friends and so many others! Even if I wanted to quit, (which I don’t) my support system would not let me, and it’s refreshing and wonderful to have people who believe in me.”
Stephanie: “This Thanksgiving year, I am most thankful for new and emerging opportunities! I have been presented some life changing opportunities that will be quite impactful to my career and to my personal development. I am thankful for those involved in making those opportunities possible and I am excited to see where those opportunities take me!”
They also wanted to take this opportunity to share some words of appreciation with WAEF donors:
“WAEF is the most meaningful and valuable scholarship I have and not just because of the financial support. I’m thankful that I’m a part of WAEF because of it I’ve made connections in the tree fruit industry that otherwise I may not have. Words cannot express how thankful I am for the WAEF donors and all the support they give to grant driven students with tree fruit industry connections, like myself with the invaluable opportunity to pursue a higher education and encourage growth in the youth of the industry!” - Dianna
“A Washington Apple Education Foundation scholarship isn’t just some scholarship. WAEF makes it their mission to fully educate students in a manner that will allow them to be successful in the future. The foundation offers opportunities for scholars to succeed, through career exploration tours, mentorships, jobs and internships, and just simple support throughout their education. The impact the Washington Apple Education Foundation has had not just on my college education, but my future career has been incredible. So, thank you for making it your mission to offer scholars opportunities, and thank you for investing in the success of the future generation!” - Stephanie
Thank you WAEF donors and volunteers for making scholarships and beyond the scholarship support available to these two outstanding women and the additional 313 students benefiting just this year from your belief in the future and desire to make a difference!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!