Posted on February 8, 2013

VIDEO: Bright Minds Scholarship Winner Lisa English Shares Her Story

Editor’s Note: Currents caught up with some of PG&E’s Bright Minds Scholarship winners from 2012 — the first year of the scholarship program. In a conversation with Currents writer Tracy Correa, 45-year-old Lisa English talks about a difficult past, the day she learned she won the scholarship award and why education is the key to her future.

To apply for a 2013 PG&E Bright Minds scholarship, go to The application deadline is Feb. 28, 2013.

Lisa English

Hometown: Bakersfield

My name is Lisa English and I am a PG&E Bright Minds Scholarship winner for 2012. It was a $30,000 scholarship and I’m truly honored to be one to receive this scholarship.

I am an environmental resource management major here at California State Bakersfield. And I am 45 years old, so it’s probably a different scholarship because most people would think the scholarship was eligible to people right out of high school. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily true.

Not an easy road

So, it wasn’t an easy road to getting here. I’ve had some struggles through life. I’ve battled with substance abuse for 24 years, was homeless. And, now I have six years free from methamphetamine and I’m pretty happy about that. Education has been a key component to staying clean and to making differences and changes in my life.

Lisa English, a student at Cal State Bakersfield, was a 2012 PGE Bright Minds scholarship winner. (Photos by James Green.)

I do have two children. I want to be an example for them both so that they can see that education is the key to success. The path I am on, I have so many dreams I never thought I would ever dream of doing in my life.

The area I am focusing on is occupational health and safety. It’s a very important area if you want to work in the oil fields and be able to help take care of the environment and people as well.

The scholarship has been able to make it so I don’t have to spend time working and being a student as well. I can concentrate more on my studies and I don’t have any problem with worrying about how I am going to purchase my books.

A big sign on her wall

So, the day I won the scholarship, I was told I was going in for my final interview. When I walked in, I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for me. I actually brought resumes and reference letters because if anything else at the interview, I thought maybe I could get a job from it. So, uh, I was really shocked when I walked around that front door, that glass door, and seen all the television crews and the big sign.

Let me talk about the big sign for a second. That big sign is hanging on my wall. So, there’s a huge sign when I walked in that said, “Congratulations Lisa English. You are a PG&E Bright Minds Scholarship Winner.” I have that sign hanging on my bedroom wall… ‘til it fades away I guess, but I love that sign. And I want to look at it every day. And I remember where I was, where I am now and where I’m going to in the future.

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