College hopes and dreams are coming true for Oakdale High School senior Savannah Borba, who has been named the 2022 Leo Volz Scholarship recipient.
The Leo Volz Scholarship pays $25,000 per year for four years for a maximum of $100,000 toward tuition and books. Volz was an Oakdale farmer who bequeathed a scholarship to be set up through the Oakdale Joint Unified School District in his will, which was endowed with $2 million.
Borba has plans of attending San Jose State University this fall, where she will major in Mechanical Engineering. This year’s Volz recipient was also accepted to San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz.
“It’s really a good area for the engineering,” she said of choosing the Silicon Valley-based campus in San Jose. “I think it fits my lifestyle a little bit better. And it’s also close to home which is nice.”
It’s a major she shared she sort of morphed into, after spending much of her life with aspirations of becoming an architect. Inspired by her uncle who was a bridge architect for the military, Borba credits teacher Dave Bacigalupi with most of her current goals as well as achievements.
The OHS senior shared she first met “Bachi” while still at Oakdale Junior High School during a Vocational Tech visit to the Rams campus.
“I told him then, you’re going to see me freshman year and every year after that,” she said of pursuing her lifelong goal.
Upon joining his class and learning more about architecture she began to realize it might not be the right fit for her. It was a 3D printer, however, in the teacher’s classroom which sparked the interest of the student who’s now chasing the mechanical engineering track.
“It’s kind of just an exploratory thing for the students, so I got involved with that,” she said of the printer. “This year I’ve been teaching the younger students how to use it and we assembled a 3D printer.”
Borba is not only the youngest of her family, but the first to be accepted and to attend college. A goal which she shared she realized would not be easy financially on her parents, who were nonetheless determined to help her pursue the dream.
“Bachi first told me about it my freshman year,” she said of the Volz scholarship, noting being both intrigued as well as interested in trying to earn the honor.
“It’s crazy,” she said of the 2022 nod. “I’m really, really thankful for it. It’s definitely a huge weight off my shoulders, knowing that it’s (college cost) not just going to go all on my parents.”
Even more crazy, she admitted, was the joke Borba left the panel with after interviewing for the Volz. Inquiring as to when she would be notified, it was shared that they would meet to review candidates on her birthday and reveal their selection the following day. The happy go lucky student shared she noted to the panel that being selected would be a great birthday gift.
“They really did give me the best birthday gift of all time,” she stated, adding it was made even better when she told her parents and heard the emotion in their voices.
As for her experience at Oakdale schools and how she feels that has benefited her, Borba spoke fondly of her elementary years at Fair Oaks Elementary and the teachers who both supported and taught her.
“I think for me, the most unique experience at Oakdale has just been having some really great teachers,” she said. “I plan to go back to the elementary school and visit some of my old teachers sometime next week before I graduate.”
She also shared her gratitude for Dave Bacigalupi and the impact he has had on her four years at OHS.
“He really just changed my life,” she said of Bacigalupi, tears filling her eyes. “Honestly, if it weren’t for him … I mean, everything in my life would be different. I wouldn’t have done track. I probably wouldn’t have won the Volz. I wouldn’t be going into engineering. He’s been like a mentor for me.
“If it weren’t for him, I just don’t even know what I would be doing,” she continued.
As for her future, the Volz recipient said she’s both excited and ready for what’s next.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and going to a different area. I’ve lived in Oakdale my entire life. I’ve never really gone anywhere. So I feel like living in a different area will definitely be an eye opening experience,” she said. “Not that I’m going very far but in an urban setting. See if I like living in the city or if I want to stay in like a suburban community. I think it would just be a good new experience.”
The aspiring mechanical engineer shared she will be plenty busy with her studies and major as it is one which presents a challenge for students to complete in four years. As an individual who thrives on organization and efficiency, Borba indicated being determined to complete her studies in four years: “I’ll make it happen one way or another.”
With focus, determination and a scholarship in hand, Borba is eager for the college chapter to begin.
“I feel like this place has made me ready for what I need to do next,” she said of the Oakdale community and the school district. “It feels like a good ending and beginning. It doesn’t feel like I need more time here or like I wish I was already gone. This year, even though it’s been different, it’s still been a really good year.”