Ruby Brown

Ruby Brown sits in a room of her family’s home in Salida, in quarantine for two weeks following her return Friday from living in Sayulita, Nyarit, Mexico.

“I haven’t been able to hug my family yet,” she said.

When Brown left in January, after completing high school early in December, she planned to spend some time in Mexico learning Spanish and getting her foot in the door of a planned medical career, before heading off to the University of Colorado-Boulder in the fall.

Two things she didn’t count on then were COVID-19 and winning a much-coveted Daniels Fund Scholarship.

The scholarship award gives her plenty of scope to think about the future while she’s waiting out her quarantine.

Winning the Daniels is “the ultimate stress reliever,” she said. “College is super expensive, and this takes a huge amount of weight off my shoulders.”

She said the full-ride scholarship, which is in part based on student need, will allow her to completely focus on her education and hone in on what she is learning.

“It feels good,” she said.

Her vision of where she will go to college has shifted to California, with the freedom the Daniels gives her to go anywhere for college.

She is now looking at University of California-Santa Cruz or University of California-Santa Barbara and is also on a wait list for University of California-Los Angeles.

Brown intends to major in sociology and minor in Spanish and continue on a medical school track after earning her bachelor’s degree.

She is interested in international medicine and said Doctors Without Borders would be her dream job, for which Spanish fluency would be a benefit.

While in Sayulita, Brown volunteered with Unimed urgent care and rode along with paramedics who taught her about the equipment they use.

“They didn’t speak English, so I had to learn the medical terms,” she said.

It was a way to get her foot in the door of the medical world and a taste of emergency medicine.

Brown also picked up a new hobby in Mexico; she learned to surf and hopes to hone that skill in California with her new surfboard.

Brown said she is a very independent person and doesn’t have one person who she considers an inspiration, but her friendship with older students a year ahead of her in school, and watching how they went about applying for scholarships, was a template for her.

“They are really smart and are in some awesome colleges,” she said.

She said she would encourage any student eligible for the Daniels to go for it and apply.

“You shouldn’t ever short-change yourself. I thought California was out of my reach and didn’t have confidence, but I tried. I gave it a shot and it happened because they thought I was good enough,” Brown said.

“You are smarter and more capable than you give yourself credit for,” she added.

Brown was originally scheduled to return to Salida May 8, in time to take the advanced placement test in Spanish and participate in SHS graduation ceremonies with her classmates. She still hopes to do both when COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

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