San Lorenzo Valley High School senior Katie Wise was awarded the Jack DeBord Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding students whose ambition, love of athletics and good grades catapult them to the top of their game. (SLV Steve)

Teenagers move through the world in their own way and at their own pace. While some revel in drama or art, others find inspiration in athletics. Katie Wise is in the latter category. 

Having played soccer since she was 5 and volleyball since the eighth grade, Wise has always had her focus on team sports, and the intrinsic rewards that come with those experiences. In addition, she has risen to the top of her graduating class at San Lorenzo Valley High School, having been named as one of three Salutatorians in the group.

That combination of athletic prowess and scholastic smarts led her to apply for the Jack DeBord Memorial Scholarship, and her compelling application resulted in the $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 per year for four years) being awarded to her as she prepares to launch into her future.

Wise will be attending Point Loma Nazarene University, studying nursing, and plans to work in a hospital emergency department to take care of others in their time of need.

DeBord’s parents, Katalin and Jim, worked with Community Foundation Santa Cruz County (CFSCC) to create the scholarship in their son’s name, and to recognize those outstanding students whose ambition, love of athletics and good grades catapult them to the top of their game. 

DeBord, a Scotts Valley resident, was an SLVHS student. The vivacious, popular athlete was starting quarterback on the SLV junior varsity football team and a fixture on the basketball court and the golf course. In 2019, to the shock of his family, friends, fellow students and community, DeBord took his own life. 

The ensuing heartache of his loss led Katalin and Jim to establish the scholarship to ensure that Jack’s legacy lives on, and Wise is aware of the import of the moment.

“Jack DeBord was an amazing kid, and everybody loved him. Even though it’s a memorial scholarship for him to honor his passing, I’m honored that the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and Jack’s parents see me as a worthy recipient. I extend my sincere gratitude to all who considered my application,” Wise said.

She added that the money will help her greatly with the cost of tuition at PLNU.

“Without the scholarship, my family would have been much more stressed. It will help launch me into my nursing career with very little student debt, and that is very meaningful to me. I’m appreciative of even being considered, much less being awarded the scholarship,” Wise said. “It just means so much to me.”

To learn more about the good work of CFSCC, visit

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Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


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