Celebrating Bethany López Rojas

Knowledge is Power

Bethany López Rojas knows she’s a warrior. As a first-generation American, she learned a foreign language, managed translations for her parents, and adapted to a different culture. Now, she’s drawing on her strength to forge ahead as the first person in her family to go to a four-year university. Thanks to the Lillian Burton Scholarship through Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, the Soquel High School graduate will have some support along the way. The $5,000 academic merit based award is renewable for up to three years. Bethany will be pursuing a Biology degree from Dominican University.

Maintaining Hope

“At times, I felt lost,” Bethany said. “I’ve struggled between losing hope and fighting for my education.” Over the years, Bethany has persevered through cycles of doubt perpetuated by the pressure of some family members that her place was in the home and not in school or a career. Eventually, she began to wonder if her voice even mattered.

But from a young age, Bethany’s mind was set on pursuing higher education.

“Knowledge is power and I want to be powerful. I want to be the success my parents hoped for, the success my family looked for, and the success I am searching for. Education was not a chance for my parents, however, with my education, I will make the impossible for them, possible for me.”

Honoring Her Voice

For Bethany, going to college is a way for her to use her voice to encourage other women in her family not to lose hope in their dreams and to pursue education. “I have learned that negative comments are a gift in disguise because they make you hungry for a victory of success.”

A Generous Heart & Foresight

Lillian Burton, the founder of the scholarship, never considered herself wealthy. A long time resident of Scotts Valley, Lillian, a widow with no children, lived frugally, owned her home, and invested her money prudently. She deeply valued education and wanted to help young people. Lillian was connected to the Foundation by a friend and started the scholarship fund in 2015. Upon her death at age 98 in 2018, she left the vast majority of her assets to the fund. “Lil the Pill,” as she called herself, now lives on forever, benefiting young scholars from our community with her generosity.

Opening New Doors

“I am so grateful for this scholarship,” said Bethany. “ With education comes new doors, new opportunities, and new achievements to succeed in life and without my parent's sacrifices, I would not be where I am today.”

Meet the 2020 Scholarship Awardees

Read more