HENDERSON — Eduardo “Eddie” Jesus Leon was hanging out with his friends in the Prairie View High School parking lot when he learned he was selected as a Daniels Scholar. The 18-year-old Reunion resident and PVHS senior was refreshing his email on his phone when “Congratulations Daniel Scholar” popped into his inbox.
“I’m really, really happy and very thankful because...it’s rigorous — the whole process — and there were times where I was kind of accepting the fact that I might not get it. It was really good to find out that I actually got it,” he said.
Leon is the only senior in School District 27J to receive the Daniels scholarship this year. Recipients of the Daniels Scholarship receive a “last dollar scholarship” which covers the student’s financial needs after other scholarships are received. They also have to go through an extensive application, interview and selection process, which Leon was initially intimidated by.
Leon has a GPA of 4.17 and will graduate as one of the top 15 students in PVHS’ Class of 2014. He is currently enrolled in Advance Placement calculus, aerospace engineering and college English 121 and 122, and is involved in many leadership activities as well.
He is active in St Augustine’s Catholic Church, where he has more than 80 hours of community service and is involved in the Stars Mentoring program, where high school students travel to middle schools to talk to students about abstaining from drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. He also played soccer during his freshman, sophomore and junior years.
Leon is still deciding between the University of Colorado Boulder and University of California Irvine, but he knows he wants to major in aerospace engineering. He decided to major in aerospace engineering because he loves the problem-solving aspect that engineering has and that he’s also really interested in aircraft, space and satellites.
Leon thanked his AVID teacher Jill Nguyen and Noemi Nuñez, former youth commissioner at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, for writing him letters of recommendation. He does not think he would have received the award without their help.
He also gave credit to his mother, Elsa, for raising him and his brother as a single parent. He said she came to the United States from Mexico so they could have this kind of an opportunity.
“I feel like she deserves it too – raising us on her own and everything – just so she doesn’t have to worry about paying for me to go to college,” he said. “It’s kind of really good for her, too.”
He would also like to thank his brother Anthony, a junior at PVHS, for always being there for him and his father Jaime Leon, of Corona, Calif., for having a great presence throughout his high school years.