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Silverado grad heads to Stanford on full ride scholarship

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( — After crossing the stage at the Silverado High School graduation this week, the next stop for Matthew De La Luz is Stanford University.

The journey to one of the country’s best universities has been a long and challenging one for the Silverado senior, who has lived in four different states and even faced temporary homelessness due to a fire.

De La Luz will now be attending Stanford after earning three prestigious scholarships, including two full rides. He won a $25,000 Horatio Alger Scholarship before earning a full ride through QuestBridge, an organization that connects deserving students with the country’s best colleges. He applied for the Gates Foundation Scholarship around the same time he applied for QuestBridge, and he found out this spring that he had also won a full ride from the Gates Foundation.

De La Luz said Stanford was his first choice, partly because “I’ve moved so much and I just want to stay in California.”

In 2013, De La Luz and his family were displaced by a fire that burned their home in the small northern California town of Forestville. The family lived in friends’ garages until they could find more permanent housing. De La Luz’s parents are Christian missionaries, and their dedication to spreading the Gospel led them to Colorado, Texas, Maryland and then to Victorville, where he began attending Silverado last year. 

“I see such resilience and adaptability in him,” said Silverado counselor Kristina Brewer, who authored the staff portion of his QuestBridge application. “This was his third high school. He’s experienced a lot, but here he is persevering and thriving.”

At Stanford, he will likely pursue a degree in environmental engineering, a choice that was inspired by the time he spent living in a polluted area of Houston near an oil refinery.

 “I guess that experience just motivated me to find a way to make things better,” De La Luz said.

Though he has a strong interest in science and math, he says his favorite subject might actually be English, and he also enjoys painting, playing the viola and singing in his church choir.

Brewer praises De La Luz’s innate intelligence as well as his strong will and determination — but these qualities are not immediately obvious due to his quiet humility. 

“He didn’t even tell me for a couple of days (that he earned the Stanford scholarship),” Brewer said. “I was so mad at him! I pulled him out of class and said ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ I said ‘you need to be telling everybody!’ He’s just that humble.”

Silverado grad heads to Stanford on full ride scholarship
(Silverado High School senior Matthew De La Luz is headed to Stanford University after winning three prestigious scholarships including two full rides.)

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