Ford Scholarship pays 90% of unmet college needs for four years

Seven Klamath County School District seniors – two from Lost River, two from Henley, one from Mazama, one from Bonanza, and one from Chiloquin — have been selected for four-year Ford Family Foundation Scholarships that will pay for 90 percent of their unmet college costs.

Recipients are Mazama senior Natalie Norris, Bonanza senior Yahir Raygoza Cortez, Chiloquin senior Anastasia Shanks, Henley seniors Michelle Bonilla Gonzalez and Kaylee Haddox, and Lost River seniors Daniela Valadez Perez and Isaac Hernandez.


The Ford Scholars Program is a highly selective scholarship that is awarded to students from Oregon and Siskiyou County, California who are planning to complete a four-year degree at a college in their home state. The scholarship amount varies by student, providing 90% of unmet need, up to $40,000 a year, based on their college’s cost of attendance.

Of 6,000 applicants, about 200 are selected for interviews. Of those, around 125 students from Oregon and 14 students from Siskiyou County, Calif., are selected based on exceptional academic and personal potential and motivation to succeed in college. Awardees also must demonstrate care for their community, a strong work ethic, leadership potential, and an overall outstanding character.

Meet KCSD’s Ford Scholars:

Natalie Norris

  • Mazama High School
  • Future/college plans: Move to Corvallis to attend Oregon State University and major in pre-clinical laboratory science
  • Career plans: Become a clinical laboratory scientist
  • GPA: 3.95 (currently)
  • Community involvement: Last year, Natalie participated in the Basin Partners Internship Program and worked at the Klamath County OSU Extension Office as a support staff intern. She was invited back on a Farm to School student worker’s grant in February. “I feel like I’m making a difference, and the job is never dull.”
  • School involvement/activities: Member of National Honor Society and Art Club (freshman year to junior year). She is on track to graduate with an honor’s diploma track and is currently taking dual-credit courses through both OIT and KCC. “Through Art Club, we painted a mural in the library and I had the opportunity to make friends who share my same passions for art. Through National Honor Society, I volunteered for a variety of organizations including the senior center, local outdoor schools, and the annual Breakfast with Santa event held for foster families.”
  • In 10 years: In 10 years, Nathalie would like to be working in a local hospital. She hopes to volunteer in her free time and travel outside the U.S. “But most of all,” she says, “I hope that I am able to return the kindness that has been given to me throughout my life. I would like to pass along the good that I have received, just as so many have done before me.”
  • Biggest challenge: Nathalie said overthinking and perfectionism were her biggest challenges over the last four years. “I always felt like every assignment had to be perfect and that any mistake meant failure, so much so that I would procrastinate my responsibilities out of fear of not being able to do them well enough. I still face this challenge today, but have found methods of dealing with it.”
  • Favorite class: English (Speech 111), Anatomy/Physiology, and Calculus.
  • Parents: Jessica and Casey Norris

Yahir Raygoza Cortez

  • Bonanza Jr/Sr High School
  • Future/college plans: Pursue a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical and computer engineering at Oregon State University
  • Career plans: Computer hardware engineer
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Community involvement: Bonanza Lions Club Road Pick up
  • School involvement/activities: Future Business Leaders of America, robotics, student store, football, track and field
  • In 10 years: Living on the West Coast, working as a computer hardware engineer.
  • Biggest challenge: “Trying to meet my own expectations.”
  • Favorite class: Weight training/robotics
  • Parents: Josefina Cortez Villanueva and Rodrigo Raygoza Pacheco

Anastasia Shanks

  • Chiloquin Jr/Sr High School
  • Future/college plans: Portland State University, majoring in biology on the pre-med track.
  • Career plans: Attend post-grad education at OHSU School of Medicine, to become a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Community involvement: Two Rivers Art Gallery volunteer, third-year OHSU Knight Cancer Institute intern.
  • School involvement/activities: On Track OHSU! program, My Future-My Choice teen leader, varsity track and field.
  • Biggest challenge: Lacking a traditional family structure. “My mother was never in my life and I recently lost my father. This means that the way my family operates looks a little different from other families’.”
  • Favorite class: Chemistry/Biology (all science courses)
  • Parents: “I was raised by my grandparents Peggy and David Shanks.”

Michelle Bonilla Gonzalez

  • Henley High School
  • Future/college plans: Major in biology-health science at Oregon Institute of Technology and then apply to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. “I aspire to become like Jason Taylor who advocates and fights for every patient he encounters.”
  • Career plans: Physician’s assistant
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Community involvement: “I had a chaotic life that did not allow me to serve my community,” she says, “but I do promise that in the near future I will serve my community as my community has served me by providing support and guidance throughout the last 12 years.”
  • School involvement/activities: Member of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) and involved in the Health Occupation CTE program.
  • In 10 years: “In the next 10 years, I hope to live in tranquility. I hope that my decisions let me have the life I have fought for every second of my existence. I hope that I love the career I chose to pursue, and I hope I remain the compassionate person others know me to be. I hope I keep the smile on my face that I have now. In 10 years, I hope to be at peace with myself so I can serve the people who need a strong advocate and caregiver in the medical field.”
  • Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge was understanding that I am good enough.”
  • Favorite class: Science
  • Parents: Ma.del Rosario Gonzalez and Manuel Hugo Bonilla

Kaylee Haddox

  • Henley High School
  • Future/college plans: Attend Oregon State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in aerospace.
  • Career plans: Become a mechanical engineer at a big company like NASA or Boeing.
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Community involvement: Kaylee is a Chief Science Officer for her high school. “I spread STEM awareness through hands-on projects by running the Henley Elementary School Robotics Club. I teach 5th- and 6th-graders different aspects of robotics through hands-on building, sketching, coding, driving, and teamwork. With the help of engineering teacher, Dr. Kristi Lebkowsky, and peers, we organized teacher workshops on how to use robotics in their classrooms, bringing robotics to six different schools.” Kaylee also has mentored at Henley Middle School, volunteered at STEM camps, and helped at local food banks.
  • School involvement/activities: Robotics, varsity tennis, JV cross country, math club, engineering club, National Honor Society and debate. “Last year, I was a part of the Robotics team that went to VEX Worlds (an international competition) for the first time in Henley’s history, and this year, my team made it again.”
  • In 10 years: “In 10 years, I see myself living in a big city like Seattle or Portland and having secured a job as a mechanical engineer. I also see myself continuing to advocate STEM in grade schools.”
  • Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge was attending a new school during my junior year of high school. Trying to fit in with my peers who have lived in the Klamath area their whole lives was hard. Fortunately, at the end of my junior year, I met my two best friends, Casey Durant and Ryan Orr, and I don’t know what I would do without them.”
  • Favorite class: Engineering Design/Development
  • Parents: John Haddox and Elizabeth Haddox

Daniela Valadez Perez

  • Lost River Jr/Sr High School
  • Future/college plans: Attend Oregon Institute of Technology and work towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing and later pursue a career in this field.
  • Career plans: Pursue a career in the nursing field.
  • GPA: 3.95
  • Community involvement: Throughout her high school journey, Daniela has accumulated more than 500 hours of community service hours through different community service opportunities including volunteering at Vacation Bible School, Migrant Summer School, and at community Pioneer Dinners.
  • School involvement/activities: Active member and vice president of Lost River’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program, and a state FBLA officer for two consecutive years. She served as the 2021-2022 Oregon FBLA Vice President of Membership and as the 2022-2023 Vice President of Media. Daniela also participated in the Leo’s Club, helping with community events such as the Crab Feed and Potato Festival. She played softball her junior year and soccer her senior year. She has been a Kindness Club member for the past two years.
  • In 10 years: “In 10 years, I hope to be working as a nurse at Sky Lakes Medical Center, living in my own house/apartment, and supporting my parents with their living expenses.”
  • Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge was accepting that I do not have a Social Security number and that my options are more limited to those who do.”
  • Favorite class: Psychology
  • Parents: Abel Valadez and Rocio Perez

Isaac Hernandez

  • Lost River Jr/Sr High School
  • Future/college plans: Attend OIT and major in geomatics
  • Career plans: Attend Oregon Institute of Technology and earn a bachelor’s of science degree, and possibly a master’s degree, in geomatic engineering. Possible future employers include Green Diamond or family business.
  • GPA: 4.0
  • Community involvement: 138.50 volunteer hours; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Concessions, City of Merrill (Landscaping, Lost River Arts and Cultural Alliance, Christmas Program, Potato Festival, Lost River Bluegrass Festival, Merrill Historical), outdoor school counselor.
  • School involvement/activities: Football, track, FBLA, and National Honor Society.
  • In 10 years: I see myself working with my family’s Backcountry Land Surveying company
  • Biggest challenge: My biggest challenge will be earning a master’s degree in geomatic engineering
  • Favorite class: Business Leadership
  • Parents: Jose Hernandez and Rayna Hernandez

Ana Shanks

Daniela Valadez Perez

Isaac Hernandez

Michelle Bonilla Gonzalez

Natalie Norris

Kaylee Haddox

Yahir Raygoza Cortez