Valhalla High School senior Lily Martinez and Grossmont High School senior Stephen Abkin are the 2023 recipients of the Helix Water District’s Robert D. Friedgen and Dr. Lillian M. Childs college scholarships.
Martinez and Abkin were presented with their $1,000 scholarships at the May Board of Directors meeting.
Lily Martinez will attend UC San Diego and plans to major in biology. She is an Advance Placement Scholar of Distinction and a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar. Martinez’s score last year on the PSAT exam ranked in the top 1.25% of Hispanic high school juniors nationwide.
Martinez also receives the California State Seal of Biliteracy, given to students who score three or higher on a world language AP exam. She is a member of Valhalla’s varsity basketball team and works with children and refugee families through the Foothills United Methodist Church in La Mesa. Her goals are to complete medical school and become an oncologist or geneticist.
Stephen Abkin will attend Texas A&M and plans to major in computer science and electrical engineering. He interned at FOX Shocks in El Cajon last year, where he shadowed mechanical engineers to learn product design and development skills and computer-aided design. He captained Grossmont High School’s Academic/Quiz Bowl Team for the past two years. Abkin is also one of the top 20 junior bowlers in California and was ranked fourth in the state last year.
Abkin co-founded the 602 Race, an online gaming event to raise funds for Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, and participates in several clubs at Grossmont. He also volunteers at Fletcher Hills Elementary School, producing outreach and tutorial videos, and keeps statistics for Little League. After college, he plans to develop technology to address environmental issues, such as plastic waste and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Scholarships honor Helix Water District legacy
The Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship was established upon his retirement in 1998, after serving as the Helix Water District’s general manager for 19 years. Friedgen provided the seed money for the scholarship. Board members and other supporters contributed additional funding.
The Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship was started by the Helix board of directors one year later, in 1999 to honor Childs upon her retirement from the board and recognize her 20 years of service and leadership on behalf of the district.
Helix representatives contact high school counselors in November to help them inform eligible 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. Applicants submit an essay about the East County Advanced Water Purification Project and provide a personal goals statement with two letters of recommendation.
(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego County region.)