CARLSBAD — Juliana Collins, 18, is maintaining her winning streak at the San Diego County Fair this year and it hasn’t even opened yet.
The graduating senior from Seaside Academy is one of five recipients who together have been awarded a total of $23,000 in 2010 Don Diego scholarships. The fund provides financial support to deserving college-bound seniors who have been associated with the fair or the fairgrounds.
“Juliana Collins is precisely the kind of student and young adult the fund was created to support,” said Chana Mannen, executive director. “She exemplifies the connection of the fair to the community. We’re certain she will succeed in college and along her career path.”
Juliana made her debut at the fair in 1997 at the age of 5 with her dance troupe. At 9 she began performing in musicals and plays.
Since 2007 she has won Best of Show in the Student Showcase for her handcrafted jewelry. She’s trying for a fourth consecutive win when the fair opens June 11.
In total, Juliana has captured 22 first-place ribbons, three second-place ribbons, eight best of class and seven best of shows. She has also won three special awards.
“I’ve always loved the fair,” she said. “It’s a marvelous tradition because it brings the community together. I love to display my work and tell family and friends to go to the fair and check out my entries.”
Homespun interests seem out of character for a young woman who logged 17,000 miles at sea before the age of 5, facing down storms and pirates.
“She’s fearless,” said mother Julie Brownell, who with husband Dan Collins took Juliana as a young child when they ran vessels throughout the Caribbean and North and South America. “Since she was in seventh grade she wanted to be a writer. She always had a camera in her hand.”
Juliana’s adventures come in handy as she works on the first of a series of six science fiction books on interdimensional travel.
She receives criticism and support for her work through a writer’s group she established at her school consisting of five students involved in independent study, ages 15 to 18.
Juliana also founded her school’s “Make a Difference” Beach Clean-up group, where students and parents do monthly cleanups along the beach.
In addition, she is a black belt in Shotokon karate and an accomplished pianist.
She’s been able to save money through sales of her handcrafted jewelry and a yacht maintenance business she started.
“Juliana is one of the most dynamic, delightful, mature and self-actualized young women I have encountered,” said Kathleen Heritage, lead teacher at Carlsbad Seaside Academy. “With her confidence, academic skill, energy and drive, Juliana will thrive within the college atmosphere.”
This fall Juliana will begin college at Loyola Marymount.
“I fell in love with their film school because there is a lot of emphasis on the story” she said. “The professors are passionate about what they are doing.”
Juliana is valedictorian, first in her graduating class of 25 at Carlsbad Seaside Academy.
“Being in independent study allowed me to work beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” she said. “Having the scholarship will help me move toward my goal of producing and directing a film based on my book series.”
Juliana will have company when she goes off to college. Her 10-year-old Chihuahua, Florita, will be joining her.
The Don Diego Fund is a nonprofit scholarship program of the San Diego County Fair. It 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 Fair from 1947 until his death in 1984. To date, the fund has awarded $536,000 in scholarships and grants, helping 126 students pursue higher education. The fund welcomes sponsors at diverse monetary levels, providing recognitions and benefits at all levels. Visit the website for more information or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.