The PepsiCo Foundation Uplift Scholarship Student Testimonials

Denzel Wilson – Artificial Intelligence

Denzel WilsonI am honored to be awarded the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. As a nontraditional student who has worked hard to earn a good GPA in my first year back in school, it brings me great joy to have that effort recognized. Upon completion of my artificial intelligence associate degree, I wish to transfer to a four-year university to focus on a degree in cognitive science and computer science.

HCC’s implementation of the AI degree plan has changed my life in many ways. The program has inspired me to pursue my dream of creating brain machine interfaces that can help individuals who have brain and spinal cord injuries. The cutting-edge information and resources that are provided to us at HCC help students understand the complexities of machine learning and robotics, and how they affect our world.

This scholarship provides a financial security blanket that is much needed in hard times amidst a pandemic. My family and I would like to thank the donor, the PepsiCo Foundation, and the HCC Foundation for providing me with this great opportunity.


Christopher Newkirk – Computer System Networking

Christopher NewkirkFrom the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you for awarding me this scholarship which will be vital in helping me achieve my educational goals. I have a diverse background which includes 11 years in the United States Army as a combat medic and two tours in Iraq. Currently I work as a bartender, which allows me to interact with the people of my community and have the flexible schedule I need to pursue my cybersecurity degree. I am also a happily married father of three beautiful children.

As a 36-year-old former business major, I am truly optimistic about my future. Upon completing my associate program at Houston Community College, I will transfer to the University of Houston in spring of 2022 to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, and hope to become a cybersecurity analyst/engineer. Within the next 10 years I would like to obtain my law degree and become a cybersecurity lawyer. The PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship is not only key in my pursuit of a college education, but also in showing my children the importance of education and how it can positively affect the future of our family for generations to come.

African-American families and other families of color for years were denied the right to pursue educational goals in institutions of higher learning. To know there is a scholarship foundation dedicated to the uplifting of minorities in this nation is truly a sign of changing times, and I could not be more grateful. Once again, thank you for awarding me with this fantastic opportunity. It certainly is not taken for granted.


Adonis Fitwi – Computer Programming

Adonis FitwiI came to America in 2013 and it was a stark contrast to my country of Ethiopia. The possibilities and opportunities are boundless and if I’m willing to put in the work, I would be able to achieve whatever I wanted. The thing I have wanted to do the most since I was little was to help as many people as I can. I had seen suffering around me back in Ethiopia and how much people barely were able to make ends meet. It made me sad that I didn’t have the ability to help them out in that situation. My educational goal is to complete my associate degree in computer programing and cybersecurity, then transfer to a college or university to get my bachelor’s degree. This PepsiCo Scholarship will help me cover the rest of the fees for attending HCC. I am so grateful that I didn’t need to have my parents pay for my attendance. I am beyond grateful for you allowing me to be able to achieve my goals, and I hope one day I am in a position where I can help as many people as you have.


Arath D. Najera – Automotive Technology

Arath NajeraI appreciate the opportunity to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. Life hasn’t always exactly been easy for me and getting through school while working has been a struggle, but with this scholarship a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now I can get much closer to achieving my dreams and financially provide for my mom who has been my biggest supporter all along. I come from a humble family with low income.

I was born and raised in Houston and graduated with honors from Heights High School in 2019. My dream is to have a mechanic shop and learn more technical skills in areas such as diesel and foreign automobiles. I also want to broaden my knowledge of sports cars and luxury vehicles. My family has been struggling financially since my father left. I have been the man of the house and took on the role of taking care of my mother. This scholarship reminds me that I can help my mom and make her proud of me. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.


Conniel Lloyd – Auto Body/Collision Repair

Conniel LloydI’m very blessed and thankful to be a recipient of the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I’m a graduate of La Porte High School and continued my education at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M as a business major. My biggest support system was my older cousin who lived with me and my mother. As a first-generation American and the oldest of three boys, this is my opportunity to live the American Dream.

My parents are immigrants from the Caribbean. I quickly learned a lot being on my own, in a different world, meeting other young entrepreneurial minded individuals. Things didn’t go so much as planned but we had the opportunity to open a family owned bar and grill in Missouri, which was one of the most exciting times of my life. Our plans were cut short when my grandmother passed away. My family and I ended up calling it quits, packing up and returning to Houston. I’ve always wanted to gain the knowledge to run my own shop/garage. Receiving this scholarship means so much to me and my family.


Demetrio Torrez – Computer Programming

Demetrio TorrezI would like to thank the donor of the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship for giving me the opportunity to continue my education in the U.S. I came from El Salvador three years ago, not knowing much English, but HCC classes have gotten me ready to be a part of the continuing education program. In El Salvador I was a science and computer engineer; I graduated nine years ago. This is one of the reasons why I choose to pursue a career in information technology.

My short-goal is to obtain my certifications in CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+. These certifications will allow me to get a better job in a field I enjoy working in, and it will also provide for my family. The long-term goal is to have a master’s degree in networking and a doctorate degree in cloud security. This scholarship will allow me to be a step closer to my goals in life. This means a lot to me, my family and my wife because we have a little boy on the way, and we want to provide a better future for him. 


Arturo Lopez, Jr. – Commercial Truck Driving

Arturo LopezI am thankful for being selected to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I grew up in a low-income, single-parent household with an undocumented mother and a family of six. When I was 19 years old, I was arrested and was sent to prison, and was released in 2015. Coming out of prison at the age of 32 was a very hard transition, but luckily I have my fiancé there to support me and help get me back into the workforce. No one in my family has pursued a high-skill, high-growth job opportunity, either because it’s too much money, or it’s too hard to attain.

Now I will be the first in my family to pursue a workforce career that will lead me to a better employment opportunity. I know that without this scholarship, I would have been unable to do so. I am confident that my success in this program will help keep me out of trouble, and provide me the ability to provide for my family as well as set an example for those that come behind me who were in situations like me.


Aderemi Adegboyega – Computer Systems Networking

Aderemi AdegboyegaI am very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as one of the recipients of your PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am a computer systems and networking major specializing in cybersecurity. I plan to pursue a career in cybersecurity upon graduating from Houston Community College. I have only 12 hours left and plan to graduate in fall 2021. I have also been taking some of my certification examinations, so I am one step closer to that goal.

The PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship has lightened my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the more important aspects of my education. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as your company has helped me.


Derrick George – Digital Gaming and Simulation

Derrick GeorgeThank you, PepsiCo for giving me the opportunity to be able to go to school again. This means so much to me and shows me that big corporations do care. I am studying graphic design and working toward a digital gaming & simulation degree. I will graduate in 2023 and hopefully be able to transfer to UT to be able to get a bachelor’s in the graphic design field.

As a long-term goal, I would like to own my own gaming studio and create my own game with its own unique style of play and challenge. I'm so thankful that I finally found a school that offers exactly what I'm looking for in the gaming industry. This scholarship means the world to my mom because now her son can go to school without worrying about having to pay for classes or take out loans and me having to work more hours while attending school. Now I can just focus on my classes and learn in peace.


Alex Rodriguez – Computer System Networking

Alex RodriguezThanks to the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship, I can worry less about paying to learn and pay more attention to getting my work done in school. This has truly been an honor to receive this scholarship. After graduating from high school, I thought that I could accomplish more if I went to college. I’m the first one in my family to make it to college and I am ready to make my family proud.

My goals are to make it through college and find the perfect job, and to have a long and happy life. This scholarship will surely help me with my journey through college, as it will give me the motivation to prove that I can work hard and accomplish anything. Thank you so much for the opportunity to do my best in school. This will for sure be an exciting year for me and I have you to thank.


Brandon Danini – Automotive Technology

Brandon DaniniThank you so much for selecting me to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am 18 years of age and Hispanic. I live with my mother and I work at Office Depot. I clock in for about 33 hours a week and I do my very best to try and help my mom with anything I can as far as bills, groceries. etc. Becoming a mechanic has been my lifetime goal, and to own an auto body shop and help people the right way.

The scholarship and classes I choose will not only teach me, but they will guide my future and open many opportunities for me, and it's only the beginning. I thank you for your generosity. My family and I gladly thank you for giving me this opportunity, and it means everything to my mother especially. You have truly made my dreams become reality.


Booker T. Dickerson – Heavy Truck, Diesel, and Industrial Technology

Booker DickersonThank you for this this PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship which will help me financially during this pandemic and times of uncertainty. I started working on cars at the age of 14 and I love repairing vehicles. There is a great demand for auto technicians like me.

My goal is to become a master certified technician and one day own my own shop. I am taking these automotive courses so I can be well-educated in fixing high-technology automobiles. Thank you for the donation and your willingness to help me obtain my goals. I really appreciate your generosity.


Jamal Brice – Cybersecurity

Jamal BriceThank you for selecting me to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I was born and raised in Houston by my mom and my grandmother. I am the only person in my family to complete high school. Education was not rooted in my family, and I wanted to break the cycle. The importance of education for me and the future generation of my family will start today with this scholarship.

My short-term goal is to finish my bachelor’s degree and get certified in information technology. My long-term is to become an author/producer and change the narrative of black culture. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for this opportunity to further my education. School is expensive, especially with me working and trying to pay back taxes on my grandmother's house who recently passed away. I am not able to afford this HCC program on my own. My family will be proud of the educational background I’ve created for myself. One day I hope to start a nonprofit for people who have limited resources.


Jorge Munoz – Computer Programming

Jorge MunozI am sincerely honored to be selected to receive a PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am a 26-year-old student with a strong passion for computers. Growing up I was always fascinated by anything relating to technology. I spend a lot of my time outside of school working on computers or improving my graphic design skills. I am currently pursuing a degree that will get me one step closer to doing what I love for a living.

My whole life I have grown up in a low-income household so I've always had to work extra hard to afford my tuition. Your generosity will enable me to continue my education and will motivate me to surpass my limits as a student. By awarding me with this scholarship you have lightened my financial burden, which will allow me to focus more on my education. I am truly grateful and honored to be a part of such a special program.


Chukwuebuka Onwuzulu – Logistics and Global Supply

Chukwuebuka OnwuzuluThank you for awarding me the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship via the HCC Foundation. I am so grateful. As an immigrant to the United States, getting this scholarship to aid my educational pursuit is a dream come true. This past year has been really challenging with the Covid-19 pandemic but with this scholarship I will be able to get my degree in logistics and global supply chain management, which will help me in achieving my dream to be promoted to a supervisory level in my present place of work. I truly appreciate this great gesture.


Cristian Rodriguez – Auto Body/Collision Repair

Cristian RodriguezThank you for this opportunity to receive a PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. My goal is to work in a body collision shop. After getting my certificate at HCC, I plan to get an associate degree in automotive technology and specialize in automotive and body collision repair. This scholarship will help me to reach my goals. I appreciate the help of Felicia Brooks of the HCC Foundation for her kind generosity. With the help of this scholarship my family will be proud of me. I will use this opportunity to continue my studies, and to buy great tools to work on automobiles.


Devin Ligon – Automotive Technician

Devin LigonI am currently studying at HCC to become an automotive tech with the dream of becoming a master technician. Recently I was provided a car for a project and thanks to the professors at school I’ve successfully pulled out the engine and in the process of putting a new one in. It’s rewarding to gain experience and do something I really enjoy doing while making a living and going back to school to finish my chemical engineering degree at Prairie View A&M University.

At the same time, I want to become a master technician and plan to open a repair shop so that I can earn a living and start growing my own business. This scholarship means the world to me. Due to the pandemic, my funds haven’t been the best so this scholarship will take some financial burdens off me and my family. Thank you so much for accepting me.


Eliseo Gonzalez – Computer Systems Networking

Eliseo GonzalezOn behalf of a grateful new collegiate entering Houston Community College, the experience has been made possible by the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship for the fall 2021 semester. My family is of Latin descent, and we have worked hard in the United States. We are all passionate about higher education, and everyone has supported my academic goals from K-12 and my acceptance into HCC.

I have worked since I was 16 years old, learning skills in addition to my academics. I would like to pursue a career in cybersecurity at HCC to obtain an associate degree and transfer to the university of my choice to complete my bachelor’s degree. My goal is to assist our government and businesses with fraud prevention or any other high-tech cybersecurity issues. I still work in automotive technology, which has assisted our household and myself. Being a distinguished recipient of this scholarship will allow me to reach my academic goals and to help my family.


Ivan Lagunas – Cybersecurity   

Ivan LagunasThank you for your generous PepsiCo Scholarship. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as the recipient of your scholarship. I am a cybersecurity major and plan to pursue a career in cybersecurity upon graduating from Houston Community College in fall of 2021 with a cybersecurity degree.

Thanks to you, I am one step closer to that goal. By awarding me the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school which is learning. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.


Ivan Lopez – Digital Gaming and Simulation

Ivan LopezI would like to thank you very much for selecting me to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship and giving me an opportunity to attend Houston Community College. From elementary through middle school, I was in Alief ISD. In the eighth grade I transferred to Fort Bend ISD and graduated from Hightower High School.

My short-term goals are to graduate from HCC and transfer to the University of Houston and continue learning more about programming video games. My long-term goals are to be able to create my own games and teach others to program games. I think of this scholarship as something that brings me closer to the community. I again would like to thank you for selecting me for this scholarship.


Victor Rodriguez – Artificial Intelligence

Victor RodriguezI am a student at Houston Community College and originally from the border town of Ciudad Juarez, right across from El Paso. My passion is technology and computers. I am not a fan of computer gaming. I like the aspect of household computing and in an enterprise environment, with computer networks and operating systems. My short-term goals are to graduate with a degree in artificial intelligence at HCC and to one day become a teacher and inspire students to keep learning just like the teachers that inspire me. This scholarship will help me reach my goals in this vast field of cybersecurity. 

I am still thinking this is a dream because I have never won anything like this in my life. My father used to tell me not to leave it to luck. He would say, “You have your health, you got working arms and working legs. Show people how you are a good worker.” My father did not have the option to go to school. Just like my father I want to be a role model for my nieces and nephews.  I want to thank you for your generosity.


Jeff Ogbor – Computer Systems Networking

Jeff OgborI want to thank you so much for awarding me a PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. It will help me pay tuition for my classes and help me to reach my goals as an HCC student. My plan for my future is to have a career in cybersecurity. This is a route that I am excited to embrace and ready to learn at HCC so that I can become a cybersecurity professional. This scholarship and the curriculum at HCC will help me reach this goal. While I attend HCC, I am also into fitness and like to work out in my spare time. I also take part in ride bikes downtown because I am very much into city life.

I am 27 years old and was born in Stockholm, Sweden. I am of Nigerian descent, and my family and I moved here from Sweden in 1998. My family is grateful for this scholarship and want to thank you sincerely for your generosity in selecting me as one of the recipients.


Jeremy Sirias – Artificial Intelligence

Jeremy SiriasThank you for allowing me to receive the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am a certified surgical technologist and have been in this field a little over three years. After the third year I realized that the healthcare field was not for me, and it was time for me to follow my passion in technology. Since I was a child, I enjoyed playing with computers and as an adult my hobbies include building gaming computers and crypto mining rigs. I look forward to my career in artificial intelligence. Thank you for helping me make it happen.


Jesus Flores – Computer Systems Networking

Jesus FloresI would like to thank you for the opportunity to further my education through the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. The past year has been very challenging financially due to instability of the retail job market. My family and I appreciate not having to incur more debt to pay for classes and textbooks.

As a non-traditional student returning to school many decades after completing high school, it is not always easy to prioritize my education. I look forward to completing my cybersecurity degree soon with the ability to pursue a more stable career.


Marcos S. Abrego – Automotive Technology

Marcos AbregoI want to thank PepsiCo Uplift for the opportunity to receive these benefits. Lately I have been wondering how I am going to pay for my career in which I have nothing but the willingness to learn. I am 21years old and a resident of the Houston area. I went to school from elementary to high school in the Alief ISD. It wasn't easy getting to this level of education considering the environment around me and other factors that held me back.

My passion has always been to work with cars, and I was always working with them with my uncle Douglas on the weekends. My short-term goals are to obtain a scholarship and to get a car. My long-term goals are to graduate from HCC as a technician, and to also to get a house. This scholarship and the HCC program I have chosen will help me reach my goals. I appreciate PepsiCo Uplift and your generosity. It means a lot to me and my family and I am truly thankful for being chosen for this blessing.


Mauricio Medina – CISCO Certified Network Associate

Mauricio MedinaI want to express my gratitude for awarding me the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship to help pursue my career. It gives me the opportunity to achieve my certificate and build a better future for myself and my family. I have worked for Community Health Choice a little over five years and have enjoyed every moment. We are a nonprofit organization that assists with medical coverage of Medicaid, CHIP and Marketplace. I have worked in the call center environment for eight years and I’ve gained a lot of experience. This scholarship will help me to gain the knowledge needed to get me where I want to be within the company. Thank you again for the opportunity you have given myself and my family.


Nikita Garcia – Automotive Technology

Nikita GarciaI would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me for the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I’m a proud mother of five and completed a short time in rehab, realizing that I wanted to finish school. Dropping out of school in the eighth grade was not the best time in my life. Having the time to grow and become this strong woman I am today is special, thanks to my husband of six years. He showed me that school was important, and I decided to get my GED and enroll in automotive technology.

Working on vehicles became a passion of mine, seeing my husband working on motorcycles. Opening a shop would be our long-term goal together. This scholarship will help a lot when it comes all my school supplies. During the hard times these past two years, this opportunity is a blessing in so many ways. Investing my time to improve my life, not knowing what I had inside me, is an amazing feeling. This will open more doors for my kids, teaching them that owning your own business is far better than working for someone else, which is not bad either. Showing them that they can make a living doing what you love to do is a unique opportunity. Thank you again for this blessing.


Pedro Matul – Computer Systems Networking

Pedro MatulIt is an honor to be chosen for the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship at HCC for the fall 2021 semester. I am a Cisco student and I am gaining knowledge in network administration. I plan to graduate in fall 2021. I am currently working at a jewelry store as an online sales manager, but I hope soon to be able to enter the IT field and put into practice everything I have learned and be able to contribute to our community. After my graduation I will pursue a career in computer information systems. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to that goal.

By awarding me the PepsiCo Foundation Uplift Scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school, learning. This scholarship allows me to work less hours and focus on my studies and additional educational opportunities. Thank you for your support of HCC students.


Wend-Yaoda Jean Edouard Tarpaga – Computer Programming

Wend-Yaoda TarpagaI am honored to be one of this year’s recipients of the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. Thanks to your donation, I will be able to continue my education at Houston Community College. I am currently a junior with a major in computer programming, applications development, and cloud computing specialization. I have two classes left and I will be graduating in spring 2022. My dedication and passion for computer programming has allowed me to achieve a GPA of 3.25, and I plan to work hard this semester to raise it higher.

In addition to my academic pursuits, I am currently working at Labcorp as an assistant on the overnight shift. I am also applying for internships in computer programming to acquire experience while I am still in school. My plan after graduation is to find employment and to continue my education at the University of Houston. My educational pursuits would be difficult financially this semester without the generous donation of the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. Thank you for enabling me to reach my fullest personal and professional potential.


David Love – Automotive Technology

David LoveIt is said that when others believe and invest in you, it motivates you to believe and to continue to invest more in yourself. I just want to give my sincere thanks for the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. This gives me more strength and more conviction to keep striving. I’m 46 years old and was born in Galveston. I was raised in a single-parent home and grew up in two different places – the Texas Gulf Coast and the West Coast in South Central Los Angeles. I come from an upbringing where opportunities were few due to the crime and economic disadvantages.

I have had my share of the good and bad since I decided to get my GED and acquire a few vocational certificates. It has given me rebirth and a new outlook about myself and my own potential. There were good people on this journey that helped me get to the next level. They looked beyond my race, my economic and social status, and whatever I’ve done wrong in my lifetime to impart to me their wisdom with love.

The faculty and staff at Houston Community College are among those who looked beyond everything to take me in, and they have continued to help me in building a better life. My long-term goal is to start my own automotive business, specializing in automotive electronics. I want to go beyond just attaining my associate degree and to make my family proud of me. This has encouraged some of my other family members (nephews) to get on the good foot.


Christian Gariet – Automotive Technology

Christian GarietThank you for awarding me the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am a former student at Houston Community College attending the automotive program. I really enjoy cars, both driving and doing maintenance on them. My educational passions are learning more about vehicles and how each mechanism works. My short-term goal in my career as an auto technician is to master the basics of this program and doing things the correct way. My long-term goal is to become a master auto technician at a well-known dealership.

This scholarship will help me achieve my goals by providing financial assistance for tools that can get pricey in this industry, but thanks to the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship I have all that covered. I am very grateful that this foundation was so generous to pick me of all people to help me pursue my goals; without them I don’t think I would be as motivated as I am now. My family can’t thank you enough for providing this amazing opportunity most people don’t get. They see this as a gift from God from all the hard work that I have done to get in the position I am in today. This scholarship means so much to me and I will not take this opportunity for granted.


Nathan Casas – Automotive Technology

Nathan CasasI would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kindness in awarding me the PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship. I am very honored to be the recipient of this award. I am currently enrolled at HCC taking classes as a full-time student in the automotive program. My short-term goal is getting my certificate as an automotive technician. My long-term goal is to become a general manager or Audi master tech.

Receiving this scholarship motivates me to give 110 percent in class and complete my certification. It also helps me go a step forward to reaching my goal of purchasing tools that will be needed throughout the course and my career path. My family and I are really thankful for your generosity. It means so much because we are struggling financially, and this scholarship just takes some relief off our backs. I thank you for your willingness and kindness to help me achieve my goals.


Chukwuemeka Eleweke – Database Administration

Chukwuemeka ElewekeMy short-term goal is to be a database administrator, and leaning towards data and cybersecurity in the future. This scholarship program will help me reach my goals financially and I appreciate your generosity. The unique PepsiCo Uplift Scholarship opportunity means a lot to me and my family. Thank you so much.

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