Incoming freshman Gianfranco Filice had one final party to attend before heading to Stanford University. On Monday, the recent Christopher High School graduate and budding entrepreneur celebrated his $100,000 scholarship from the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC/HACER) at a special dinner at the local McDonald’s restaurant on First Street.
Filice is one of five college-bound students selected this year to receive the prestigious national scholarship, which goes to outstanding Hispanic students who have demonstrated academic achievement, community involvement and financial need.
“The scope of the accomplishment didn’t occur to me until we were at the San Francisco award ceremony,” said Filice, who started his own social good clothing company, Ripple Design, last year after securing funding through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Since it was established in 1985 by McDonald’s owner/operator and former educator Richard Castro after noticing increasing school dropout rates among Hispanic students due to financial difficulties, RMHC/HACER has awarded more than $31 million in national and local scholarships to more than 17,800 students.
On May 23, more than 200 students from across the greater Bay Area received scholarships from the RMHC Scholars Program. Filice said looking across the stage and seeing his parents, Nadina and Franco, and two older sisters, Alessandra and Francesca, looking at him with pride gave him a sense of euphoria.
“When it was announced I would be attending Stanford, there was a standing ovation and I see my mom, my number one supporter, with tears in her eyes. This is why I do what I do—it’s not just the recognition, but the feeling that I am becoming someone they can be proud of.”
The first-generation college student intends to study management science and engineering at Stanford while continuing to grow his clothing company, which works with designers to create clothes in support of worthwhile causes. Beneficiaries have included Operation Freedom Paws in Morgan Hill and Children’s Hunger Fund, which provides nutritious food to children in the United States and around the world.
Filice has a jump-start on his academic career. He attended a four-week academy at the university’s school of engineering where he developed a four-year plan that combined his engineering studies with his entrepreneurial pursuits. He is also planning on taking a class that will show him how to grow Ripple Design.
“Stanford is very supportive,” he said.
The impressive teen, who also served as chair of the Gilroy Youth Commission, is appreciative of all the support he’s received from his family and mentors.
“I’m the end result of what mentorship and support can yield to young people who don’t have resources available to them.”