Students receive thousands of scholarships from the Desert Financial Foundation

Desert Financial Foundation has announced $192,000 in scholarships for 60 Arizona students.

The scholarship program includes Community Service Scholarships for high school students who volunteer in their communities, and Adult Learners Scholarships for adults age 25 or older who are pursuing certificates or degrees. Nearly 250 Arizona students have applied for the 60 available scholarships, according to a news release.

“We are proud to have given away more than $1 million in scholarships to high school students and adults over the past eight years,” Jeff Meshey, vice president of the Desert Financial Foundation, said in the news release. “A well-educated workforce increases economic opportunity for everyone in our community – which is why supporting education has been a top priority at Desert Financial since its founding 85 years ago.”

Desert Financial Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships since its inception in 2015, with the goal of supporting students who want to improve their lives and financial situations through education.

Sydney Swanson, of the Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center in Paradise Valley, received one of the Desert Financial Foundation’s $3,000 Community Service Scholarships this month. She plans to attend medical school at the University of Arizona.

In addition, Scottsdale resident Meredith Jaxon received a $3,000 Adult Learners Scholarship from Desert Financial. She studies technology entrepreneurship and management at Arizona State University – Polytechnic. Jaxon received one of 30 Adult Learners Scholarships awarded by Desert Financial.

Community Service Scholarships

Thirty high school students received a total of $96,000 in Community Service Scholarships. More than 80 students, who completed at least 50 hours of community service last year, applied for the scholarships.

Three students stood out from the rest by receiving the top $5,000 grant. They contain:

  • Yaretzi Ortiz, from Tolleson Union High School in Tolleson
  • Trevor Schuhrke, from Basha High School in Chandler
  • Ashley Thompson, from Dobson High School in Mesa

The remaining recipients each received a $3,000 scholarship.

“Engaging in community service has enriched my life in countless ways and shaped my character and values,” said Ortiz, who volunteered more than 775 hours in 2023. “I have developed skills that I will need for the rest of my life including leadership, communication and organizational skills.”

In addition to completing the minimum 50 hours of community service, students were required to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, enroll in an Arizona college or university for the fall 2024 semester, demonstrate financial need and be or related to a desert dweller. Financial member to be eligible for the scholarships.

Combined, community service grant recipients will have provided more than 4,100 hours of community service in 2023.

Scholarships for adults

Of the nearly 160 applicants who applied for the Adult Learners Scholarship, 27 were selected to receive a $3,000 scholarship. Three additional scholarship recipients were randomly selected for $5,000 prizes. A total of $96,000 was given to the 30 recipients.

The adult students who received a $5,000 scholarship include:

  • Andrew Cochran of San Tan Valley
  • Timothy Kilcoyne of Phoenix
  • Joshua Walker of Glendale

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be 25 years or older; currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited college, university, or certification program in Arizona; and be a current member of Desert Financial Credit Union.

“As a newly single mother of four, it is difficult to continue my education to provide a better life financially for my children,” said Cassandra Melendez of Glendale, who is studying to become a nurse. “This grant will take away some of the stress of having to work extra shifts to make ends meet for tuition costs.”

In addition to the scholarships, each recipient received a bag of gifts from the credit union, including an iPad, iPad case, Apple Pencil, snacks and other school supplies, to help prepare them for their higher education experience.

The recipients celebrated their awards at the 2024 Desert Financial Foundation Scholarship Ceremony at Chateau Luxe in Phoenix on May 15.

For more information about Desert Financial Foundation scholarship programs, visit

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