On April 20, Helix board members and staff honored Steele Canyon High senior Nicole Swallow and Grossmont Middle College High senior Ethan Garrett as the 2022 recipients of the district’s Robert D. Friedgen and Dr. Lillian M. Childs college scholarships.

Swallow, who plans to major in civil engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, invests hundreds of hours in community service each year. She organizes free financial education classes and toy drives for San Diego’s Peruvian community, oversees Steele Canyon High’s Title 1 budget expenditures with teachers, administrators and parents, and volunteers with Sharp Hospice Care and Vista Del Cerro bilingual daycare.

Swallow’s projects caught the eye of Helix’s scholarship committee. She created a Spanish-language science magazine to empower kids to stop deforestation and restore the environment that was distributed to public libraries in the Andes, Amazon Basin and Peru’s major cities. She also partnered with Meals on Wheels and lead a team of photographers to learn what senior citizens want and need. The project and report earned Swallow a Gold Award, the Girl Scouts of America’s highest honor.

Garrett, who plans to major in economics at UCLA, UC Berkeley or Cal Poly Pomona, is a debate champion. He is the only high school student on the Grossmont College debate team and has won debates against adversaries from San Diego State and UC San Diego. He has numerous 1st, 2nd and 3rd place debate awards at the high school and college level.

He is also a legislative intern for San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson and a commissioner on the City of La Mesa Youth Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the city council. Garrett just earned his Eagle Scout ranking and is co-captain of the Grossmont Middle College Academic League and on the school’s mock trial team. At Helix High, he was on the robotics team and represented the school at California’s Model United Nations.

Helix’s scholarships are $1,000. The Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship was established upon his retirement in 1998, after serving as Helix’s general manager for 19 years. Friedgen provided the seed money and the board and others contributed additional funding. The Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship was started by the Helix board a year later to honor Ms. Childs upon her retirement from the board and recognize the 20 years of service and leadership she had given to the district.

Helix reaches out to high school counselors in November to get the word out to students about the annual scholarship contest. Applicants must live in the district’s service area, have excellent academic standing, excel in community service and extracurricular activities, write an essay about the East County Advanced Water Purification Project, and provide a personal goals statement and two letters of recommendation.

Above: 2022 scholarship recipient Nicole Swallow and Helix board members. Below: 2022 scholarship recipient Ethan Garrett and Helix board members. Bottom: Nicole Swallow and family and Ethan Garrett and his father.

Ethan Garrett and Helix board members after scholarship ceremony.
Nicole Swallow and family posing in Helix boardroom after scholarship ceremony
Ethan Garrett and his father in Helix boardroom.


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