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Emilie Mendoza and Karina Shvachka will see 90% of unmet college expenses covered

COURTESY PHOTOS: MRSD - Molalla High School 2020 graduates Emilie Mendoza (left) and Karina Shvachka have been awarded the Ford Family Foundation scholarship that covers 90% of unmet college expenses.

Two students from Molalla High School's class of 2020, Emilie Mendoza and Karina Shvachka, have been awarded Ford Family Foundation scholarships to continue their education.

Honored for demonstrating an understanding of the value of education, hard work, taking responsibility, giving back and helping others, the two students will now see 90% of their unmet college expenses covered.

"I genuinely did not believe I was going to get it and was super shocked when I received the letter and read the words, 'Congratulations!'" Mendoza said. "I remember being on the phone with my oldest brother as I went to check the mail preparing myself for the worst, and then opening the letter and bursting out into happy tears. It was such a surreal moment. I am very joyful and blessed that all the hard work I put into high school has most definitely payed off.

"Although college will be different this year," she said, "I still can't wait to start this new chapter of my life, especially as a Ford Scholar."

Mendoza will attend the University of Oregon in the fall, majoring in Family and Human Services. Her goal is to become a social worker within the foster care system.

"I really want to help kids who are in abusive households find families that will care for them and love them," Mendoza said. "I love helping kids and really want to create positive change in their lives."

Like Mendoza, Shvachka was shocked at the news she had won the scholarship.

"When I discovered that I was chosen as a Ford Family scholarship recipient, I couldn't believe it at first," Shvachka said. "I was too nervous to open up the letter, so I had asked my mom to. When she had read it to me, I was so happy and felt blessed to become a part of the Ford family."

Shvachka, also this year's valedictorian, will attend the University of Portland to double major in biology and Spanish. She plans to go on to medical school to eventually become an orthodontist — a task she is sure to achieve.

"Karina is a 'think outside of the box' kind of person," said MHS counselor Matthew Rubrecht. "She is a strong, independent worker who sets goals for herself and knows how to reach them."

Shvachka said she wanted to thank family members who have helped her get this far.

"My sisters have always been there for me and helped me throughout school," Shvachka said. "Their support and motivation was what kept me going and what made me want to improve and better myself. I am especially thankful to my parents who immigrated from a third-world country and sacrificed everything so that me and my sisters could one day have a better future."

Shvachka comes from a line of Ford Scholars. Her sisters Irene Shvachka (graduated 2018) and Angela Shvachka (graduated 2015) also won the scholarship. All three were valedictorians of their classes.

Kenneth W. Ford, a founder of the foundation, created the Ford Scholars Program to assist students who otherwise would find it impossible, or at least very difficult, to obtain a college degree. Of the foundation's many causes, the Ford Scholars Program was always one of his favorite projects, according to the foundation's website.

Each year, the foundation selects 125 Ford Scholars.

To find out more, visit

Kristen Wohlers
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