These scholarships aren’t peanuts.

An East Bakersfield High School student and a Highland High School student were each surprised with $180,000 checks Tuesday to pursue their dreams of becoming aviators.

The money came from the Marine Option Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. Its purpose is to train highly qualified men and women for careers as commissioned officers in the United States Marine Corps.

United States Marine Corps officials surprised East student Ahmed Baameur and Highland student April Cierley during class with the news — and the oversized checks.

Friends and family cheered them on as they shared their future plans.

Baameur plans to attend Embry-Riddle University in Florida and become a helicopter pilot.

Cierley plans to attend UC Berkeley and wants to become an astronaut.

The application process for the scholarship was intense, a Marines representative who delivered the money told them.

Just 15 of the 150 students west of the Mississippi who made it to the finals were awarded the scholarship. Academics, physical testing and volunteer work were taken into consideration.


This article was updated on Tuesday, Dec. 26. 

These scholarships aren’t peanuts.

An East Bakersfield High School and Highland High School student were each surprised with a $180,000 check Tuesday to pursue their dreams of becoming aviators.

The money came from the Marine Option Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. Its purpose is to train highly-qualified men and women for careers as commissioned officers in the United States Marine Corps.

United States Marine Corps officials surprised East Bakersfield High student Ahmed Baameur and Highland High student April Cierley during class with the news and oversized checks.

Friends and family cheered them on as they shared their future plans.

Baameur plans to attend Embry-Riddle University in Florida and become a helicopter pilot.

Cierley plans to attend UC Berkeley and wants to become an astronaut.

The application process for the scholarship was intense, a marine representative who delivered the money told them.

Just 15 of the 150 students west of the Mississippi who made it to the finals were awarded the scholarship. Academics, physical testing and volunteer work were taken into consideration.

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