DEL MAR — Passion is a word Emily Kathleen Whitecotton, 18, uses with energy and frequency to describe her abiding interests in music, small and large animals, science and leadership. Her passion, and 4-H participation at the San Diego County Fair, earned her a $2,000 scholarship from The Don Diego Fund. She is using the scholarship to study at the UC Santa Barbara, where she is pursuing a double major in music performance and human biology/forensic science.
Whitecotton is one of 13 high school graduates countywide to receive a 2008 scholarship from the San Diego County Fair/Del Mar Fairgrounds’ The Don Diego Fund. “Each year, the fund provides financial support for deserving San Diego youth who have been associated with activities at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and plan to pursue higher education,” Fund Executive Director Chana Mannen said. “As a longtime 4-H participant at the fair who has achieved the prestigious All Star Service Award and grown into a leader, Emily models the kind of scholar The Don Diego Fund is delighted to support on her journey through college, and beyond.”
Whitecotton, the daughter of Robin Whitecotton, has participated in 4-H since she was 5 years old. “I showed small animals until I was 9 and then showed both small and large animals,” she said, noting that she served on the group’s teen council and county executive board council and as president of her club. She earned her All Star by successfully initiating a 4-H club at San Dieguito Academy. “The club offers current teen 4-H members a place to get together and talk about what their groups are doing. It also gives new teens the chance to learn what 4-H is and what we do.”
While orchestrating the development of the 4-H club, Emily pursued her interest in music. In addition to excelling in her school’s concert and symphonic band, and being named most improved musician and most outstanding junior, this French horn enthusiast played in the San Diego Youth Symphony from 2006-08.
Quang “Hogan” Tong, 4-H Program Representative at the University of California Cooperative Extension Office, praised Whitecotton for being bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded. “Emily takes care of all the people around her,” Tong said. “From an early age, she has pushed and prodded (4-H) members and friends to excel and reach for success. She takes the time out of her own life to show genuine concern for others; that is a rare quality in today’s world.”
“The Don Diego Fund’s Board of Directors takes pride and pleasure in supporting young adults such as Emily Whitecotton, who are not only outstanding students but outstanding human beings,” Mannen said.
The Don Diego Fund was formed in 1986 as a lasting tribute to Tom Hernandez, who, in the role of Don Diego, served as the legendary goodwill ambassador of the San Diego County Fair from 1947 until his death in 1984. Over the past 22 years, the fund has distributed $486,000 in scholarships and grants, helping 113 students attain a college degree.