California/West Coast

Chapter Spotlight

California/West Coast Chapter in 2023:

  • 85 New Carson Scholars on the West Coast in 2023
  • 87 Recognized Scholars on the West Coast in 2023
  • 783 scholarships awarded in California

**Looking for dedicated chapter representatives, specifically in the San Diego area.





Learn more about the California/West Coast Chapter

West Coast Chapter News

2019 West Coast Awards Banquet

This year marked the 10th Annual West Coast Awards Banquet, where 117 new and 113 recognized Carson Scholars were honored for their academic achievements and humanitarian work. Family, friends and educators made the journey to the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA to show their unwavering support for their scholars. CBS San Diego News personality Heather Myers emceed the event for the second year and was pleased to see those familiar scholars from last year walk across the stage this April. 2019 Carson Scholar and 4th grade student Emily Diaz kicked off the event by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Candy Carson warmly welcomed the audience and reminded everyone just how incredible these scholars are and how it takes the support of family and passionate educators to help them along the way.

A beautiful redition of “Amazing Grace” was performed by talented harpist and 2019 Carson Scholar Liberty Floyd. The magnitude of the event could not have been possible without the continued generosity of Eleni and Wolfgang Gagon. It was only fitting then to play a tribute video honoring the incredible couple for their achievement and benevolence. This year, the Gagon Trust sponsored 85 new scholars and continue to fund dozens of Think Big Reading Rooms across Southern California.

The afternoon hit its peak when Dr. Carson introduced Dr. Bennet Omalu and presented him with the Trailblazer Award. Bennet Omalu is a Nigerian-born physician who holds eight degrees and professional certifications in the medical sciences and business management. Dr. Omalu identified Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy [CTE] in a retired football player when he performed an autopsy and examined the brain of Mike Webster. Subsequently, he identified CTE in other high-impact, high contact sports athletes and in military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His work and life have been featured extensively in all media platforms across the world including the major Hollywood film, Concussion, released in December 2015 by Sony Motion Pictures, in which the renowned actor, Will Smith, played Dr. Omalu.

Dr. Omalu’s breakthrough work is what led the next component of the afternoon – an essay reading from 2019 Carson Scholar Sabrina Smith. The 11th grade student and San Diego native shared her story of how two sports concussions created a path for her to serve others and further her appreciation for health and wellness. Kristin Berry illustrated her incredible service work as she introduced the keynote speaker and CSF’s co-founder, Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson charmed the audience with stories from his work as a medical student and the importance of believing in your abilities along with sharing his thoughts behind his “Think Big” motto. View photos from the 2019 West Coast Awards Banquet

2018 West Coast Awards Banquet:

View photos from the 2018 West Coast Awards Banquet. 


2017 West Coast Awards Banquet:

View photos from the 2017 West Coast Awards Banquet.

Seventh Annual West Coast Awards Banquet:

Click here to view photos from the banquet.

Sixth Annual West Coast Awards Banquet:

The plunging cliffs leading to crystal blue water in Dana Point, CA were a majestic setting for the Sixth Annual West Coast Carson Scholars Awards Banquet. Students and families from all over the West Coast gathered to celebrate high academic achievement. Union Bank’s Robbin Narike Preciado expertly led the festivities for the evening, emphasizing Union Bank’s ongoing commitment to education. Read more.

2015 West Coast Awards Banquet Photos

Fifth Annual West Coast Awards Banquet:

At the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, West Coast guests spent the evening honoring scholars and exploring the aquarium exhibits. Dr. and Mrs. Carson along with our partners, Union Bank, congratulated 34 new and 24 previous scholars at the West Coast Awards Banquet. Scholars, their families and guests were able to enjoy this beautiful Oceanside destination prior to the event. Read more.

In the Media

Former Presidential Hopeful Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Honor Scholars
Ramona Home Journal, May 2016
New and Previous Carson Scholars were honored at an awards banquet held at San Diego State University.

Carson Scholars Fund holds banquet at SDSU
CBS 8, April 2016
The Carson Scholars Fund celebrated West Coast Carson Scholars at San Diego State University on Sunday, April 24.

ALCS Carson Scholar Wins National Pi Day Contest, March 2016
Ezekiel Zaruba, a 3-time Carson Scholar, tied for first place in the Carson Scholars Fund’s National Pi Day Contest.

16 San Diego County Students Honored As Carson Scholars
SDCOE, March 2016
New and previous Carson Scholars were selected as winners for the 2016 scholarship season.


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