Coachella Valley High School seniors Brianda Beltran and Miguel Alvarez have only been playing tennis on their respective Arabs’ squads for five seasons, and both admitted taking up the sport to help themselves away from athletics, when they began applying for colleges a few months back.
Beltran and Alvarez hold high aspirations for themselves when they head to college next fall, but their intrigue with the sport paid off with major dividends Saturday afternoon. The pair were honored as the first two recipients of $15,000 scholarships handed out by BNP Paribas.
“Tennis is a global sport, and the bank is a global bank, but I thought in the meantime that we’re part of a community,” said Jean Yves-Fillion, the CEO of BNP Paribas North America. “It’s one thing to say you want to help the community, but it’s another thing to do it.”
Yves-Fillion said he was very involved in the application process and read several of the top submissions himself. He added that playing tennis was an important factor, along with high academic achievement, maturity and leadership.
Beltran and Alvarez acknowledged they weren’t two of the best tennis players in the valley. The sport was foreign to them growing up, and neither even considered it until talking with counselors once they got to high school.
But it’s become an important part of their lives and one they both hope to pass onto their kids one day.
“I remember coming to Indian Wells and seeing little kids playing and being trained, and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, they hit the ball so good, and they’re so young,'” Beltran said. “So that’s what I hope for my kids to play when they’re little so they can get trained.”
And this large scholarship each of them earned should go a long way in helping them achieve their career goals and provide for their families in ways both their parents, whom did not attended college, were able to do.
“When they (Alvarez’s parents) came to America, they always hoped for us to live the American Dream, where we could find success and work hard to be somebody in this world,” Alvarez said.
Beltran plans to attend University of California, Irvine, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in communications. She added she hopes to possibly go after a master’s and doctorate degree before becoming a social worker in the Coachella Valley.
Alvarez will attend University of Southern California in the fall as a business major in the World Bachelor of Business Program, which could allow him to study in Hong Kong and Milan his junior and senior years of college.