Two Highline students earn $ 40K Amazon Future Engineer Scholarships

Samuel Deressa and Daniel Tadesse with AFE Sr. Product Manager Miranda Lewis.

Photo courtesy Highline Public Schools

information from Highline Public Schools

It was a surprise within a surprise! The $ 40,000 STEM scholarships arrived in Amazon delivery boxes to not one, but two seniors in Highline Public Schools this week. The two students are just two out of six Amazon Future Engineer scholarship and internship winners in Washington state this spring.

On Tuesday, Tyee High School student Sam Deressa checked the Amazon scholarship website and figured he did not make the cut. “It was just a long shot,” he said about applying. Plus, a standard Amazon box had arrived that day for his friend Daniel Tadesse, a Mount Rainier High School student, while Sam was at Daniel’s home. Both seniors attend Highline College through the Running Start program and are childhood friends.

Sam was happy for Daniel when they discovered what the box contained and took photos of his friend holding the $ 40,000 scholarship placard and wearing the blue Amazon Future Engineer has included with other swag.

Meanwhile, Tyee High School counselor Michael Whitfield and Tyee administrators were tipped off by Amazon staff and worked with Amazon to plan a surprise reveal party for Sam on Wednesday. Whitfield invited Sam’s family and friends, including other members of a Y-Scholars program, which included both Sam and Daniel! The school counselor told Sam there was some paperwork he needed to sign related to graduation and college — not untrue!

Sam’s dad and his brother, who attends Chinook Middle School, had Sam’s mom connected on FaceTime and gathered in the Tyee library, along with a group of friends, students, teachers and district staff. Assistant Principal Norma Barrineau had accepted delivery of the box ahead of the event.

This time Daniel cheered for Sam, while confetti fluttered down, and KING 5 filmed Sam’s happy surprise. “Mom, I made it!” were his first words on TV.

Then the two friends posed for a photo together. After talking with Amazon’s representative at the surprise event, they confirmed that the $ 40,000 scholarships also come with a paid Amazon internship this summer after their first year of college to gain hands-on, practical work experience with mentorship from Amazon leaders. Some Amazon Future Engineers get invited back for future internships and job offers.

Sam plans to attend the University of Washington and major in computer science. He says he wants to serve elderly and disabled citizens through assistive robotics and computer science. Daniel has not quite decided between UW and the University of Southern California but has also been accepted into the computer science programs.

Congratulations, Sam and Daniel! Watch the surprise party on KING 5 News.

The Amazon Future Engineer program has awarded $ 22 million in scholarships to 550 students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities across the US since 2019.

Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, participation in school and community activities, work experience, future goals, and financial need. Amazon partnered with Scholarship America to review the applications and select the 250 scholars.

Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the STEM field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that job opportunities for computer science workers will grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, yet only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, and only a small percentage of those come from underserved and historically underrepresented communities. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $ 91,250 in May 2020, which is more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations.

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