Jonnathan Yepez Carino poses for a photo at Mariner High School in Everett, Washington on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Jonnathan Yepez Carino poses for a photo at Mariner High School in Everett, Washington on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Mariner alumnus wants to offer scholarships, regardless of citizenship

Jonnathan Carino, a banker, is raising funds for three $5,000 scholarships for kids who can speak to overcoming adversity.

EVERETT — In 2011, Jonnathan Yepez Carino was a senior at Mariner High School. He wanted to go to Seattle Pacific University and become a psychologist.

But Carino, who emigrated from Mexico with his mother when he was 9, wasn’t a U.S. citizen. So he didn’t qualify for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or most private scholarships.

“I knew for sure my parents would not be able to afford putting me through college,” Carino said.

Now Carino wants to provide three $5,000 scholarships for Latinx students who had similar experiences. He has already raised $2,595, and he’s prepared to donate $2,000 of his own money.

Carino hopes his scholarships let students “chase their American Dream.”

Jonnathan Yepez Carino writes out an example of how credit card use impacts credit score during Auliilani De La Cruz’s class at Mariner High on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jonnathan Yepez Carino writes out an example of how credit card use impacts credit score during Auliilani De La Cruz’s class at Mariner High on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

He wants future students to avoid his experience. When he talked to an adviser at Seattle Pacific University, he was told unless he had thousands of dollars or a perfect GPA and SAT score, he couldn’t realistically attend.

He won a couple of small scholarships — but when he got the checks, he spent them on family expenses. He went to local community colleges while working “all over the Everett Mall” to cover college fees.

Ultimately, working two jobs and attending school wasn’t sustainable, he said. He dropped out and became a bank teller in 2014. Now he’s vice president at a bank.

Carino’s scholarship won’t have a citizenship requirement, and he will send the money directly to colleges so students don’t feel pressured to spend their scholarships on their families.

Next spring, students can compete for the scholarship by writing an essay about overcoming adversity and gaining empathy for others.

He wants to fundraise for the next three months by reaching out to friends, family and local businesses, as well as the Marysville Rotary Club.

Many of his high school friends have already donated, he said.

State Rep. Julio Cortes, D-Everett, donated $100.

Cortes was born in Mexico and emigrated with his parents to the United States. He said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my family and folks like Jonnathan.”

Carino has previously taught financial literacy sessions to Mariner students, focusing on the importance of good credit. He’s also the Latino Committee chair for the Marysville Tulalip Chamber.

In April, he was named one of the finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leader award.

Surya Hendry: 425-339-3104; surya.hendry@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @suryahendryy.

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