San Diego Fire Relief Association

Cadet Scholarship Fund Recipient Stories

The FirefighterAid Cadet Scholarship Fund (CSF) was created to provide financial aid for Fire Cadets who are making an impact in their community. This scholarship is a one-time award that benefits multiple Cadets. Cadets who have previously received an CSF may apply a second time, but may receive the award no more than two times.

Awarded amounts are determined every year based on number of applicants and at the discretion of FirefighterAid’s Board of Directors. The CSF is funded entirely by FirefighterAid and its donors. Donors can receive a tax benefit for making contributions to this fund. For information or questions please email Gabby Rockwell

Congratulations to all of our Scholarship winners!



My name is Ryan Latney and I was a cadet for about 3 years before I got hired with San Diego fire rescue. I grew up in San Diego and took classes at both Miramar and Mesa college. Balancing school, working as a seasonal firefighter for the United States Forest Service and being a battalion chief for the cadets was not an easy task, especially affording all of the costs that comes with it: classes, gas, food, textbooks and more.

While I was in the process of getting hired with San Diego City, I was awarded the FirefighterAid Cadet Scholarship which helped me tremendously. I was able to pay everything I owed to schools as well as contribute some of the money to a new laptop to help me with my studies. The people working for FirefighterAid were nothing but kind and generous and allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream of working as a firefighter for the city of San Diego.

This job means the world to me and being able to help people in need alongside my brothers and sisters is everything I’ve ever wanted and more. I can’t wait to see what else this job has to offer for me.


My name is Benjamin Hernandez, and I am proud to say I am a Firefighter for the City of San Diego Fire Rescue-Department. I graduated from Southwestern College with an associate degree in Fire Science Technology. While attending SWC, I worked part time and I joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Cadet Program. I successfully completed the 89th fire academy in 2020. I am very appreciative to those who have supported me through my career accomplishments.

Thank you to FirefighterAid for awarding me with the Cadet Scholarship. This scholarship helped me pay for my tuition at Miramar College when I was pursuing my Firefighter l certificate. Becoming a Firefighter for the City of San Diego is one of my greatest achievements. Making a positive impact and being a good role model for my community makes me feel accomplished on a daily basis.


My name is Tristan de Guzman. I have the privilege of being able to say that I am a new Firefighter for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. I am embracing this new opportunity that allows me to serve the city that I know and love. Being a Firefighter brings a variety of challenges and ways to serve the communities and citizens of San Diego. It is a calling that allows me to be a light in someone’s darkest day. I love how this job allows me to be someone that others look to when they need help. The FirefighterAid Fire Scholars scholarships were a huge blessing to my success. Before the academy, I was a student at Point Loma Nazarene University studying Kinesiology. I was also a Cadet with San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. In addition, I was working part-time hours as an EMT on an ambulance. To say the least, I had my hands full. The scholarship helped me tremendously for my schooling and allowed me to focus solely on being a Firefighter. It was humbling to be a recipient of this scholarship and to have this organization supporting me every step of the way. I am grateful to have so many supporters and now I get to say I am living my dream everyday. I am extremely thankful to the FirefighterAid program’s assistance because they were a big contributor to making my dream a reality.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So, keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

– Steve Jobs


My name is Shayne Sakoda; I am a new Firefighter for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. I believe that being a Firefighter means you should give back to those who are in need. I chose to be a Firefighter because I have a passion for helping my community and those who are in need. Before getting hired, I put in many hours and a lot of effort into becoming a Firefighter, especially as a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Cadet.  The FirefighterAid Fire Scholars scholarship I received helped me tremendously. I probably wouldn’t be a Firefighter yet if it weren’t for the generosity of that scholarship. I wouldn’t have been able to take off work as much as I did, afford to pay for school, and put in my time as a Cadet doing ride-alongs, and volunteering within the community.  Many people helped me along the way to get to where I am now including friends, family, and mentors. FirefighterAid made a huge difference in my life and I greatly appreciate them!

“To do more for the world than the world does for you, that is success.” – Henry Ford


2020 Scholarship Winners: 

Noah Costa, Aaron Gutierrez, Nick La Rocca, John Marlow, Will Molenkamp, Jordan Poindexter

2019 Scholarship Winners: 

Miguel Acosta, Miguel Cervantes, Aaron Gutierrez, Benny Hernandez, Ryan Latney, Daniel Wilson

2018 Scholarship Winners: 

Chase Brown, Miguel Cervantes, Savien Gill, Ryan Pablo, Joseph Schottmiller, Alex Volk

2017 Scholarship Winners: 

Branden Sade, Chloe Cole, Daniel Warren, Erika Nilsson, Tyler Beatty, Xavier Bartig

2016 Scholarship Winners: 

Tristan De Guzman, Jared Creamer, Daniel Warren, Shayne Skoda, Hanna Wells, Luke Snyder

2015 Scholarship Winners: 

Tristan De Guzman, Blaise VandenBrulle, Carlee Carter, Lauren Vanderwalle, Megan Kinnaman

San Diego Fire Relief Association

Honoring Ryan Ferrara (1981-2020)

RYAN FERRARA  1981-2020

SDFD Engineer/Paramedic Ryan Ferrara answered his last alarm on July 18, 2020. Ryan spent more than 13 years on the job. His life was tragically cut short in an off-duty motorcycle accident. He was man who was always smiling and loved to be outdoors – riding motorcycles, surfing, and more. Ryan started working for the city in 2001 as a lifeguard and made the transition to become a Firefighter Paramedic in 2007.  

His family and friends hosted a livestream of a private ceremony to celebrate his life. Due to the state-mandated COVID-19 measures of 2020, the family was not able to host an in-person service. To honor Ryan, they hosted a livestream of the service from multiple social media outlets to allow for friends, family, and firefighter family to join.

After the private ceremony, there was an opportunity for friends and loved ones to share their support from within their vehicles by participating in an Honor Procession beginning on Quivira Way in Mission Bay. Personnel were on location to assist in the formation of the procession. Additionally, there was a sunset paddle out, a Station 21 tradition, in his honor.

The Ferrara Family truly appreciates your understanding and thanks you for all the love, support, and compassion. Ryan, may you rest easy now and let your fire family carry the load.


7/31/2020 – Ryan Ferrara’s Celebration of Life Private Service

Hundreds remember San Diego Firefighter killed in motorcycle crash

Friends Remember Fallen Firefighter