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COMMUNITY VOICES: Thanks to GEO for supporting our local grads

Joshua Rizo receiving Geo Group scholarship check.jpg

McFarland High School Salutatorian Joshua Rizo receiving his $1,000 check from The Geo Group Inc.

My name is Danny Diaz, and I was the 12th grade counselor at McFarland High School for the graduating class of 2021. We had 206 seniors in the class, and we are so grateful to The GEO Group Inc. for the commitment that they have made to our community and our students.

This past year, GEO decided that they wanted to do something to help our residents, especially since we were experiencing tough times with the COVID-19 pandemic being in full swing. GEO decided that they wanted to award each graduate with a $1,000 scholarship award. They didn’t stipulate on how that $1,000 should be spent.

Many scholarship donors will only issue out the money once they see that the student is enrolled in a college/university or some trade school. GEO didn’t care about that! They just wanted each graduate to have $1,000 to spend it on whatever they wanted to spend it on.

Obviously, many of our students are using that for college expenses and some of our students who went to military boot camp spent it on things that they were going to need for training. Still other students were needing this type of help to purchase a better laptop for their higher education, while others obviously graciously were willing to help the family pay some backed-up bills or purchase food for their family.

All in all, McFarland High School could never thank GEO enough for what they have done for the families of this community. They also issued out $1,000 checks to the students graduating from our continuation school (San Joaquin High School) and the students graduating from our adult school (McFarland Independent School).

GEO issued out more than $250,000 this year to our graduating students. If that weren’t enough, GEO has made a commitment to do this for five years.

Who does this? I’ll tell you who! It’s people who really care about our community. It’s people who really care about our students. It’s people who have big generous hearts who continually want to make a difference in the lives of our students. There aren’t words that I could use to describe how thankful the students were the day they received their check. We had special ed students, general track students and college level students receiving the same $1,000, and all they had to do to earn this check was to graduate and get that diploma.

This really served as a motivation for those students that were struggling. We kept reminding them that they could do it and that the $1,000 scholarship would be there for them upon completion of their credits. As a community resident myself and father of a graduating senior at McFarland High School, I am honored to represent ALL the residents and parents of McFarland, and it is my privilege and pleasure to say thank you, GEO, for your generosity and hard efforts to make our students feel special and appreciated.

On behalf of McFarland High School, the city of McFarland, the parents of graduating seniors, and the future graduating classes of McFarland schools, thank you, GEO!