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Duffin, Dunckel pursue dreams with Don Diego Fund Scholarships

DEL MAR — June was a transformational month for Fallbrook young adults Julianne Marie Duffin, daughter of Katy Tobler and Scott Duffin, and Melissa Ruth Dunckel, daughter of Ingrid and Timothy Dunckel.

On June 5, they graduated from Fallbrook High School with admirable GPAs while logging many hours of school activities and community service. On June 16, they became two of only 13 high school graduates countywide to receive substantial scholarships from the San Diego County Fair/Del Mar Fairgrounds’ Don Diego Fund at a gala celebration. The money is enabling them to pursue their career aspirations.

Chana Mannen, executive director of The Don Diego Fund, stated, “Each year, the Fund provides financial support for deserving San Diego youth who have been associated with activities at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and plan to pursue higher education.”

Julianne received one of five $5,000 Don Diego 2008 scholarships. It was awarded in the category of FFA. She is presently attending El Camino College in Torrance, augmenting the scholarship with money she earns as hostess of a Hermosa Beach restaurant.

She plans to transfer to a four-year university, perhaps Cal State Fresno, and attain a double major in agriculture communications and American Sign Language. The combination will enable her to achieve her career goal: “I plan to educate the youth of the deaf community about agriculture. I want to brighten their future by spreading my passion for this immensely important field.”

Upon beginning her classes this September, Julianne confirmed, “I love college! It’s a whole new world. The Don Diego Fund scholarship is benefiting me now and will really help when I transfer.”

Julianne has been steeped in agriculture, education and the fairgrounds all her life. She confided, “I was even born during the fair!” Her dad is an agriculture instructor at Fallbrook High and her mom teaches at Potter Junior High, so it’s no surprise that Julianne maintained a 3.7 GPA, receiving some of her highest grades in her chosen fields: ASL and Ag.

She was an FFA exhibitor at the fair for several years, gaining leadership as a hog and beef barn foreman and FFA chapter president. Among numerous activities, she served as an intern at the Village News from 2005 to 2007.

Melissa is using her $1,000 scholarship to attend Palomar College. For years, she was a fair exhibitor via Rainbow Valley Grange. She has actively participated in the fair’s agricultural program and exhibited to great success in the livestock division, focusing on dairy goats, Boer goats and horses.

She is a natural leader who served for four years on the Del Mar Youth Advisory Board and was selected by the USDA to participate in an elite national Ag Discover Program in 2007. Not one to shy away from hard work, Melissa has cleaned stalls and worked with the above animals as well as alpacas and llamas.

Currently, Melissa is taking general education classes with an interest in animal training and behavior. She noted, “I have chosen marine and mammal training and behavior because I have always wanted to work with orca whales and bottlenose dolphins. My goal is to work at the SeaWorld Marine Mammal Training Center in San Diego.”


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