Scholarship Testimonies

These testimonials are from past James A. Ditch Education Fund Scholarship winners. Their stories are why we continue this legacy, and was why Jim Ditch began helping those who need it. 

Meet Alvaro Omelas:

Alvaro Omelas

Receiving the SCRTTC scholarship has helped me tremendously. I feel like students benefit knowing that the leaders in our industry are collaborating with schools to provide financial aid for students. Receiving the SCRTTC scholarship helped me a lot. I believe [these scholarships] help turn dreams into reality. I remember I was looking for jobs, and no one opened the door — I felt like I was drowning, and receiving the scholarship gave me some peace of mind which helped me pay some bills, pay for some tuition and to pay for some books that I needed at the time I was taking classes. “

— Alvaro Omelas, Scholarship Winner, James A. Ditch Education Fund

Meet Jason Barker:

Jason Barker

From what I’ve found, the more training you have the more opportunities you have. Putting a little bit of extra effort in has really benefited myself, and I’ve seen it with other people. When I was younger, I didn’t like school. The family situation I had, I had to move out kind of young. I dropped out of high school. I wanted to work to support myself, and got to a point where I couldn’t go any farther. Now that I’ve gone back to school I enjoy it. I’m almost done with the diesel program; I got hired at METRO before I finish that [program]. I finished the Hybrid Program, I have about 20 certificates, and I’m coming back to finish the diesel program next semester then I’m going to continue on to my [bachelors] degree in maybe business and see where that leads me. 

Receiving the scholarship benefited me. It paid for my transportation. It paid for some housing expenses, and helped me buy a couple tools that I use everyday for work. It helped ease the burden of trying to get everything accomplished without a full time job. ”

— Jason Barker, Scholarship Winner, James A. Ditch Education Fund

Meet Lisa Delgado:


O'reilly's has a lot of opportunities so I could go into driving a truck to transport the equipment, materials, or supplies. I could also go into vehicle maintenance with the trucks or diesel maintenance. Every day is an new day and you never know what’s going to happen. So I just take it one day at a time, and see what doors open for me. 

[This scholarship] helped me purchase some tools, a lot of it I threw into the bank and it’s just sitting there, waiting for me for when I need it. I try to manage my money pretty well and i’ve been pretty good about that. 

Don’t be afraid to succeed in a man’s world, because women pay attention more to detail. They can do it, sometimes they don’t think they can, because I didn’t think i could, but I’ve been doing pretty good and I’ve even made the dean’s list. The [James A. Ditch scholarship] isn’t the only scholarship I’ve won, so just apply yourself and know that hard work and determination will get you what you want. ”

— Lisa Delgado, Scholarship Winner — James A. Ditch Education Fund

Meet Adrian Ortiz

Adrian Ortiz

I recently made a transfer plan to go to Cal State Los Angeles industrial technology; it’s cool — it’s industrial shop management and I’ve started taking the transfer classes this semester. 

I was thinking to start working this summer or fall. I would then go to school to Cal State Los Angeles either 8 hours or part-time in the diesel shop to get experience in and learn a couple things. After that I would look into entering a masters program at Cal State. 

The Jim Ditch Scholarship is awesome, it was really good because I was able to buy some extra tools, about $500 worth. I was also able to buy some books for school this semester which were very expensive and it was very good blessing [to have the scholarship]. ”

— Adrian Ortiz, Scholarship Winner, James A. Ditch Education Fund

Meet Victor Santos:

Victor Santos

Currently I’ve living with my mother and my brother, and pretty much within the household I’m the one who is the most financially stable, which allows me to not only take care of them, pay the bills, bring food home, but also allows me to use whatever I have left towards school. I’ve been going to school ever since high school. I started with the two-year program for ASE mechanic degree for diesel, which is what helped me get this [Long Beach Transit] job and from there I worked on a transfer which allowed me to go to Long Beach University. I went through some engine classes, the Detroit engine and Cummins engine, as well as some electrical classes which helped out a lot too. Another class here that helped to get the position that I’m at now, is the MAPS class, which is also founded by Jim Ditch. The MAPS class is the mechanical aptitude program. The MAPS class is all year long and it’s on your own time so pretty much what I would do is I would come, as a custodian, do my work then after go to the MAPS class and go through all the different systems that the buses have and through the year long program. When it ended I was able to the test to become a mechanic and I was able to pass and became a ASE Mechanic. Now I’m trying to get as much background in mechanics and then try and go to school and graduate. Once I graduate, I hope to become a supervisor, and when I become a supervisor I hope to go into a management position. 

We have some hybrid buses which are gasoline/electric, which are helpful to learn how to troubleshoot. Currently, the newer buses are CNG, which is the new technology, but I can’t wait for the electric coaches to get here and learn from that standpoint. 

The scholarship money helps out a lot. My family depends on me financially, so all the money I make [at Long Beach Transit] goes to supporting my family. Whatever I have left from that goes toward paying for school. With this scholarship, I was able to pay a large portion of tuition which was very helpful.”

— Victor Santos, Scholarship Winner — James A. Ditch Education Fund