David Jon Vaca Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

David Jon VacaThe $500 David Jon Vaca Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship in American Studies, which is based on scholastic achievement and financial need, is awarded each semester. The scholarship is named in honor of David Vaca, an outstanding American Studies B.A. and graduate student who was killed in January 1986 when the car he was driving was hit while stopped at a traffic light by a driver fleeing narcotics agents. Generous donations from the Vaca family, American Studies alumni, and faculty have supported this scholarship for many years.

Who may apply: Any American Studies major who has earned 60 units overall, including at least 9 units in American Studies courses, and who has maintained at least a 3.5 GPA in American Studies courses. Previous applicants are eligible to reapply.

Application procedures: To apply you need to obtain an application form, which is available in the department office (GH-313) and below. In addition to filling out the form, you are asked to submit a letter explaining why and how you would benefit from the scholarship. Letters should be addressed to the American Studies Department. Applications with letters attached should be turned in to the Department Office (GH-313) or emailed to Sandra Medina. It is perfectly appropriate to contact faculty members for advice on composing your application letter. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you should seriously consider applying; this scholarship is a distinct honor. And $500 can always come in handy. 

Due Dates: 

Fall Semester: October 15

Spring Semester: March 1

Application FormPDF File

Vaca Award Recipients by Year

Year Awarded


Fall 2023 Emily Barajas
Spring 2023 Gabriella Pulasky
Fall 2022 Raelene Reyes
Spring 2022 Kathleen Loreto
Fall 2021 Viviane Garcia
Spring 2021 Eun Soon Lee (Joseph)
Fall 2020 Alicia Barajas-Ritchie
Spring 2020 Brandon Ruiz
Fall 2019 Samantha Montalvo
Spring 2019 Maria Segundo
Fall 2018 Kelsey Blue Vargas
Spring 2018 Rachelle Shumard
Fall 2017 Evan Dang
Spring 2017 Sara Roberts
Fall 2016 Ashely Ongalibang
Spring 2016 Michelle Viorato
Fall 2015 Yamillet Brizuela
Spring 2015 Elizabeth Plett
Fall 2014 Victoria MacDonald
Spring 2014 Vanessa Mendoza
Fall 2013 Paulina Torres
Spring 2013 Nicole Rehnberg
Fall 2012 Judson Barber
Spring 2012 Daisy Gutierrez
Fall 2011 Austin Krie
Spring 2011 Michael Perales
Fall 2010 Aissa Canchola
Spring 2010 Narine Nehrabian
Fall 2009 Greg Moore
Spring 2009 Eduardo Garcia
Fall 2008 Heather Brown
Spring 2008 Tony Joseph Ingoglio and Raisa Orleans
Fall 2007 Kira Banos, Andy Diaz, and Steven Ngo
Spring 2007 Maria Cortes
Fall 2006 Samuel Sousa
Spring 2006 Adriana Ruvalcaba
Fall 2005 Karen Alonzo
Spring 2005 Kim Martin
Fall 2004 Kristin Miyagishima
Spring 2004 Timothy Peter Schneider
Fall 2003 Susan Lee
Spring 2003 Melissa Leigh Chavez
Fall 2002 Jennifer Sasai
Fall 2001 Mary Jo Cooke
Spring 2001 Roseanne Garcia
Fall 2000 Dakota Cornell
Spring 2000 Laura Barrios
Fall 1999 John McCarthy
Spring 1999 Laurie Dieppa
Fall 1998 Jonathan Menjivar
Spring 1998 Monique Soltani
Fall 1997 Justine Pas
Spring 1997 Gregg Schlappy
Fall 1996 Jeff Savage
Spring 1996 Lisa D. McFarland
Fall 1995 Ann M. Campbell
Spring 1995 Heather Yarnell
Fall 1994 Wendy Barker
Spring 1994 Andrea L. Schwartz
Fall 1993 Carolyn Thomas and Melana Abramowicz
Fall 1992 Laura K. Vaughn
Spring 1992 Christopher Ramsey
Fall 1991 Julia M. Cheung
Spring 1991 Noelle Lee Dickenson
Fall 1990 Shannon Philipp
Spring 1990 Sandra V. Smith
Fall 1989 Lisa Cleveland
Spring 1989 Susan Flinkingshelt
Fall 1988 Tracy A. Smith
Spring 1988 Eric Taylor
Fall 1987 Sandi Patton
Spring 1987 David L. Crawford
Spring 1986 Kelly R. Jennings
Fall 1985 Shannon Pohlhammer
Spring 1985 Anne-Marie Scholz
Spring 1984 Enrico Gnaulati


 Rose Anne Garcia Jennifer Sasai Melissa Chavez Kristin Miyagishima Karen Alonzo Adriana Ruvalcaba Samuel Sosa Maria Cortes Kira Banos Andy Diaz Steve Ngo Tony Joseph Ingoglio Raisa Orleans Heather Brown Greg Moore Narine Mehrabian Aissa canchola Michael Peralas Austin Krie Daisy Gutierrez photo of Vaca winner Vanessa Mendoza Photograph of Elizabeth Plett Yamillet Brizuela Michelle Viorato Photograph of Ashely Ongalibang Photograph of Sara Roberts Photograph of Evan Dang Photograph of Maria Segundo Photo of Brandon Ruiz Photograph of Alicia Barajas-Ritchie young woman sits on wooden bench Photograph of Gabbi Pulasky

Vaca Award winners (above): Roseanne Garcia; Jennifer Sasai; Melissa Chavez; Kristin Miyagishima; Kim Martin. Karen Alonzo; Adriana Ruvalcaba; Samuel Sousa;  Maria Cortes; Kira Banos; Andy Diaz; Steven Ngo; Tony Joseph Ingoglio; Raisa Orleans; Heather Brown;  Greg Moore; Narine Mehrabian; Aissa Canchola; Michael Perales; Austin Krie; Daisy Gutierrez;  Vanessa Mendoza; Elizabeth Plett; Yamillet Brizuela; Michelle Viorato; Ashely Ongalibang; Sarah Roberts; Evan Dang; Maria Segundo; Brandon Ruiz; Alicia Barajas-Ritchie; Raelene Reyes, Gabriella Pulasky