Basha High senior gives scholarships to teachers - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Basha High senior gives scholarships to teachers

February 15th, 2022 development
Basha High senior gives scholarships to teachers

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

A Basha High School senior says her biggest worry when she decided to give scholarships to teachers was not trying to raise the money, but wondering if  anyone would apply.

“For me, the more intimidating thing was, ‘I don’t know if anyone’s going to apply.’ I was praying just like one person, please apply so I can actually do the project.”

There was no reason for Jadyn Ocampo to fret. She left the application window open for two weeks and 34 Chandler Unified School District teachers applied for the Al and Laurie Ocampo Scholarship.

The Gilbert resident said she wanted to raise money for teachers for her senior project because she has seen how the student loans teachers take out to get their degrees can take decades to pay off.

Both her parents are teachers.

“My mom faces student debt. I lived with her in Flagstaff when she was in grad school at NAU, and I see her 10 years later like still paying for that degree. I was like, ‘I know that affects a lot of educators.”

Jadyn was hoping to raise $1,000 to give to one teacher when she first started the project. She ended up raising more than $4,000 on a GoFundMe page. She decided to award three $1,000 scholarships and four $300 scholarships.

“I was moved by all the stories,” Jadyn said. “There are three stories that really stood out to me.”

Jadyn said she knows that with the money she awards, the teachers won’t pay off their student loans, but she hopes it will help them make at least one payment.

Those three teachers were Yolanda Jones of Navarette Elementary, Hunter Wilkes of CTA Independence and Eric Bealer at Hamilton High School.

Jadyn said Jones’ story touched her because she’s a full-time teacher who heads home each day before she goes to her second job at Chick-fil-A. On top of that, she’s a graduate student who hopes one day to be a principal at a Navajo school.

She said she identified with Wilkes because they are both athletes.

Jadyn plays tennis and Wilkes came within an inch of qualifying for the Olympics in the pole vault. To train for a shot at the Olympics, she spent an extra year at her university, which just added to the debt she had already amassed.

Bealer has six children – the same number as Jadyn’s grandparents, after whom she named her scholarship fund. Two of Bealer’s children have medical needs.

“I guess the key thing with all those teachers, is like, despite their hard things, they’re still so excited to go to work,” Jadyn said.

Getting the $300 scholarships were Anna Zepada of San Marcos, Vanessa Randall of Hamilton, Amber Lugo of Conley and Andrew Pezzuto of Santan.

After  more donations came in on Ocampo’s GoFundMe page. She now has enough to hand out about six more $300 scholarships. She said she may have to wait until March to do that, because she’s already missed too much school on this project.

Jadyn said when she first started trying to decide which teachers to award the scholarships to, she made an initial cut to 15. From there, she picked the seven that ultimately got money.

Jadyn said she will look at the eight she didn’t choose from that initial cut to find the next six.

And she hopes to keep this going.

“I really feel like I can go somewhere with this,” Jadyn said. “I would love to start a foundation. I mean, I’m 17 and I have to worry about paying for college right now. But I would love to do this again next year.”


To help

To donate to the Al and Laurie Ocampo Scholarship, search by “Ocampo Scholarship.”