Ukiah…In 2007, a shy sweet natured 5th grader at Hopland Elementary School received the first AAFG Scholarship administered by the Mendocino College Foundation.  Her name is Rebeca Ortega and this is her story!

Rebeca knew that a scholarship was waiting for her at Mendocino College, so really there was never any question about college- she was going to attend college!  She graduated from Ukiah High in 2014, and Mendocino College in 2017 with Honors.

While at Ukiah High School, Rebeca fell in love with poetry and English.  This love of language would lead her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley.

Adventure awaited Rebeca and while in Berkeley, she learned about a program through UC Berkeley called the University of California’s Education Exchange Abroad Program.  She applied for the Gilman Scholarship, was selected for a one semester study abroad program in New Zealand of all places! 

New Zealand is home to some 29 million sheep (according to 2015 statistics) and around 4.6 million people. That’s 6 sheep per person (and it used to be more), and the reason for the many sheep jokes made about New Zealanders.  It’s other claims to fame are being the home of the Kiwi Fruit, Lord of the Rings movies and Rugby.

According to Rebeca, “my educational program in New Zealand, was amazing.”  I lived on campus and really got to experience the world.  A small town girl, born and raised in Hopland, California (population 756), was living and learning across the world all because she stayed in school and realized that she loved to learn.

As we celebrate this young woman’s success, it would be easy to say that receiving the AAFG Scholarship made this all happen, the truth is that it was a part of her success, along with her loving family, teachers and counselors at Ukiah High School, professors and staff at Mendocino College and most importantly Rebeca herself.  She is the type of person who just loves to learn and has shown that anything is possible when you work hard!  

For more information about the Mendocino College Foundation or to donate towards any of their programs, please contact Katie Fairbairn, Executive Director at or call 707-468-3164.

Recent News

Welcome New Foundation Executive Director, Julie McGovern

Welcome New Foundation Executive Director, Julie McGovern

Ukiah, CA – “The Mendocino College Foundation is pleased to announce that it has named Julie McGovern as its new Executive Director effective January 2022,” said Foundation Board President, Tom Dow. McGovern brings a wealth of leadership experience and a passion for...

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