Founded with the vision of expanding the educational opportunities and enriching the lives of our children through participation in mariachi music, the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation has made an enormous, positive impact on the lives of thousands of students in South Bay San Diego while helping to transform our community into one of the most vibrant and important centers of mariachi music education in the nation.

Research studies have shown that participation in music adds a powerful dimension to education—improving academic performance and self-esteem, lowering dropout rates, providing positive afterschool experiences to keep students inspired—and these benefits increase exponentially within the culturally-relevant and family-oriented world of mariachi music. By engaging students in mariachi music and by providing college scholarships, the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation works to create a unique, focused pipeline to higher education for San Diego County students.

In 1996, mariachi education programs did not exist in our county’s public schools. Now, through the vision and support of the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation, there are nearly 20 middle-school and high-school programs offered across San Diego County, budding programs at SDSU and USD, and an associate degree in mariachi studies offered at Southwestern College. At any given time, there are more than 1,000 students studying mariachi in San Diego area schools.

For the past 17 years the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation has provided college scholarships to students who graduate from mariachi and ballet folklórico programs they support. By encouraging and helping these students to attend college after they graduate, the benefits to the community become more profound and long lasting. The Foundation’s scholarship program is quite unique and very powerful: students who participate in mariachi for 2 or more years, at a school supported by the Foundation, receive a cumulative “B” average or above, and who plan to go directly into college after graduating high school (or directly to a 4-year university after graduating from Southwestern College) are guaranteed a college scholarship. While scholarships generally average $1000 per student, the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation also offers competitive scholarships for larger amounts based on academic achievement, personal statements and teacher recommendations. In their 17-year history, the MSF has awarded over $300,000 to more than 300 students to support their higher education.

Southwest Airlines has been a visionary partner for more than 13 years. “Southwest has always been extremely supportive of our requests,” says Mariachi Scholarship foundation President, Jeff Nevin. “They’ve donated countless flights, making it possible for us to bring top artists to San Diego to teach at workshops or perform at fundraising events. One year they even donated flights for an entire 15-piece mariachi group—with their instruments! We can’t thank Southwest Airlines enough for the wonderful generosity and support they’ve shown to the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation.”

Join Southwest Airlines in supporting the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation at a special fundraising event November 1 when San Diego Symphony presents Mariachi Champaña Nevin’s “Día de los Muertos” at Copley Symphony Hall. Whether you’re a classical music lover or a mariachi fan you’ll enjoy this delightful evening, featuring Tijuana’s own opera sensation Mónica Abrego, Metropolitan Opera tenor José Luis Duval and former Mariachi Vargas star Rafael Palomar. Also showcased will be many Mariachi Scholarship Foundation recipients performing with Southwestern College’s Mariachi Garibaldi and ballet folklórico. VIP Tickets, at $150, include a pre-concert reception featuring hors d’oeuvres, wine, microbrews and tequila, and premier seating — and a portion of each ticket is a donation to help fund the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation’s scholarship and education programs. For tickets and information, visit

“All of my experiences in the Mariachi Program have endorsed my mental development and my maturity level; priceless contributions to my dream of becoming an educated man.”

– Andres, Mariachi Scholarship Foundation scholarship recipient, 2013

“Mariachi classes have enriched my life with culture and perspective… and have opened me up to completely new life goals.”

– Miguel M., Mariachi Scholarship Foundation Scholarship Recipient, 2013

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. Mariachi music has encouraged me to pursue higher education.”

-Brianna, Mariachi Scholarship Foundation college scholarship recipient, 2011


How much do you train each day when you are preparing for a tournament?


I spend a lot of time training on the court but I spend even more time training off court. It is very important to do this so I can stay healthy and strong. I train around 5 to 6 hours a day. When I don’t have a tournament, I spend more time training off the court than on the court. It pretty much takes all of my day, and I don’t have free time except for maybe one or two hours before I go to sleep. I try to incorporate different physical activities to mix it up and make it fun.


What is your diet like?


My diet changes constantly because I travel so much. I really am hooked on smoothies and salads. I don’t eat meat. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. I always snack to keep my energy up, it is important to do this. I love nuts, trail mix and something healthy. I also eat energy bars and foods that are made out of fruit as opposed to grains. I don’t like junk food; I am not a fan of it!


Do you find yourself still watching your diet closely even after so many hours of training?


Definitely, I have to watch what I eat. My only guilty pleasure is ice cream; I love it and when I start there is no limit for me so I have to watch out. For me it is not about being skinny, it is so much more about being healthy and feeling good. It is important to know what makes you feel good so you have to put the right food in your body so you can perform well.


What do you do in your free time when you are in a tournament?


When I get time off during the tournament it is pretty boring because I still have to keep focused and to give myself enough time to recover and relax. I like to watch movies and just hang out with my team. I like to search the web and learn something useful and try to not be on Facebook all the time. I also try to read books, but that is more challenging for me because I fall asleep a lot while reading. I like the book about Gabrielle Reece Hamilton; she is a role model for me. Her book was amazing as to how real it was, and very direct.