At Giants Game, PG&E Surprises Petaluma Student with $20,000-a-Year Scholarship
By Paul Doherty
SAN FRANCISCO — In a surprise on-field announcement at AT&T Park, a 17-year-old high school student from Petaluma learned she will enter college this fall with a $20,000 annual scholarship from PG&E.
Claire Killian, who attends Casa Grande High School, is one of 10 Northern and Central California students who will receive a Better Together STEM scholarship of up to $20,000 per year to complete their college degrees.
Killian and her parents arrived at AT&T Park on Friday evening (May 20) several hours before the San Francisco Giants’ matchup with the Chicago Cubs for what they were told would be a VIP tour of the stadium.
The group was led to the field to watch the Giants take batting practice, but soon thereafter the family was in for a big surprise as Giants mascot Lou Seal and PG&E Vice President of Customer Service Deb Affonsa approached Killian with a big check revealing that she was the recipient of PG&E’s Better Together STEM scholarship.
“I was really surprised and had no idea it was coming. I didn’t really know what was going on for a second,” Killian said.
Killian, who begins studying civil engineering at UCLA this fall, says that receiving a STEM scholarship from PG&E is an incredible honor that reinforces her hard work and focus.
“There’s the financial aspect, but to get a scholarship related to STEM education is validation for what I believe I’m supposed to do and where I want to go in my career,” she said.
PG&E’s fourth annual Better Together Scholarship program helps to cover undergraduate education expenses for selected high school seniors, or college, university or vocational-technical students to complete their higher education paths. Killian and nine other students were among nearly 4,000 applicants. An additional 90 program finalists will receive $2,000 toward their studies.
Killian’s mother was in awe as she learned the scholarship is worth up to $20,000 a year for the next five years, .
“I was just flabbergasted, very grateful, and very, very proud of this girl,” Marian Killian said. “Claire is smart, but she has worked and worked very hard. There have been many nights where I will get out of bed, and she is still up at 1 or 2 a.m. studying. She’s steadfast and tenacious in everything she does. It’s truly amazing.”
PG&E Better Together STEM scholarships are awarded based on a combined demonstration of community leadership, personal triumph, financial need and academic achievement.
Killian’s dreams of becoming a civil engineer began at a young age. As a child she would spend hours designing and building Lego and Lincoln Log structures — something her mom says was a building block in developing her interest in engineering. At Casa Grande High, she was captain of the girls’ basketball team, earned a 4.58 grade point average and was a member of the National Honor Society.
She hopes to study abroad and participate in international service projects such as Engineers without Borders.
Killian’s father, Eldon, was stunned when the surprised was revealed.
“There’s the money, of course, but this is an enormous highlight as to who she is,” said her father, Eldon Killian. “Claire has opened up so many doors for us, and she continues to do so. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before.”
PG&E’s Affonsa said Killian was an easy pick for the scholarship.
“Her passion for engineering, her education and community are clearly evident, not just in her outstanding academic performance, but also in the care and time she has devoted to others,” she said.
“At PG&E we believe power does more than fuel our communities with gas and electricity,” she added. “We believe in personal power, knowing that the right educational opportunities can spark an individual’s success. And from there, what inspires one person has the power to light up an entire community. We are proud to help Claire and others reach their full potential.”
Previous announced scholarship winners this year include Dominic Navarro of Rocklin and Olivia Leiker in Chico.