The power of a scholarship: SMUD’s support of Sacramento State students

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“Power” people: SMUD Powering Hornets Scholarship recipient Matt Perez (third from right) joined SMUD representatives: (from left) internship program manager Jennifer-Christine Madamba, MBA ’16, program manager for economic development and partnerships Jim Alves, board of directors member Dave Tamayo, CEO and general manager Arlen Orchard, and chief workforce officer Gary King, at the 2017 From Dreams to Degrees luncheon.


acramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) promise to power the region isn’t limited to electricity. The community-owned utility company is sparking education through the Powering Hornets Scholarship.

Funded through the recently-established SMUD endowment, the Powering Hornets Scholarship provides first-in-their-family college attendees up to $2,500 and the opportunity for the student to pursue a 12-week internship. It’s awarded to a full-time junior, senior or graduate student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, with an emphasis in electrical and electronic engineering.

I was so excited when I found out the scholarship included an opportunity to pursue an internship. It’s an added bonus.
- Matt Perez, Sac State electrical and electronics engineering major

Electrical and electronic engineering major Matt Perez says it’s a dream come true to be selected as the first beneficiary.

“My dad came here from Cuba with nothing but the clothes on his back. Being able to make my parents proud is a motivation for me,” says Perez. “And SMUD is a company I’ve always wanted to work for ever since I started studying electrical engineering.”

I was so excited when I found out the scholarship included an opportunity to pursue an internship. It’s an added bonus.”

Furthermore, the junior says he hopes to work as a power engineer for a local utility company after graduation. Armed with a SMUD internship, he has a chance to prove himself to a potential employer.

“I was so excited when I found out the scholarship included an opportunity to pursue an internship,” Perez admits. “It’s an added bonus.”

The partnership is one of several between Sac State and SMUD. The University is represented among the 21 students who received financial assistance through SMUD’s other scholarship program— “Powering Futures”—last year. Powering Futures provides high school seniors or graduates scholarships at a two or four-year college or university.

SMUD also used federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to help the University install a campus-wide energy management system, advanced meters and electric vehicle chargers.

In addition, Sacramento State was one of 10 colleges to appear in SMUD’s Tiny House competition last year. Teams were tasked with designing and constructing affordable and sustainable net-zero energy homes on trailers.

“Sacramento State and SMUD are great community assets,” SMUD CEO and general manager Arlen Orchard told the audience at Sac State’s “From Dreams to Degrees” scholarship reception. “We share a common mission to improve the quality of life in our region, and providing opportunities for students to succeed is a key part of that work.”

The Powering Hornets Scholarship’s emphasis on first-generation college students has personal relevance to Orchard.

“I was raised by a single mother who wanted her son to be the first in our family to attend college,” Orchard said. “It’s important that we acknowledge the financial burden that college places on many students and families and do all we can as a community to reduce that burden.”

To create partnerships with internships, scholarships or both, contact Suzette Riddle at (916) 278-3533 or