Onward Scholars at PMA » About Onward Scholars

About Onward Scholars

"Dream Big and always move ONWARD!"


The Onward Scholars Program promotes academic excellence, fosters an environment conducive to genuine peer support, exposes students to leadership opportunities that instill a love of service, and empowers goal-driven young men and women by providing resources that build skills for their path to higher education and lives of purpose.


The Onward Scholars Program attracts students leaders from the communities served by St. Pius X- St. Matthias Academy to provide them and their families with a solid bridge to a college education by exposing Scholars to opportunities that instill a love of service and empowers them to be confident leaders on and off campus.

Onward Scholars at St. Pius X- St. Matthias Academy receives not only the support services the school provides, but also works closely with the onsite Onward Scholars Program Director to receive mentoring, financial support, and access to programs that prepare students for the college application and matriculation process. In addition to a scholarship for 75% of tuition costs to PMA, each Scholar has access to a maximum of a $2,000 stipend over the four years from the Smet Foundation that the Program Director administers to offset the cost of activities or programs in line with the mission of Onward Scholars (e.g., summer college programs, test prep). 

To apply to be an Onward Scholar, you must be among the top students in your graduating class (with the target minimum cumulative GPA being a 3.5 during your middle school tenure) and have demonstrated leadership in your school and/or community. Additional requirements are outlined to the right in the "Application Process" section.

The Onward Scholars Program application is available in the Application Process section, accessible on the right margin of this page! For information about Onward Scholars, please contact:

Ms. Melissa Turcios, Program Director




Scholar Spotlight: Nehemiah Williams
Over summer 2019, our own Onward Scholar from the Class of 2022, Nehemiah Williams attended the Teen Exploring Technology,s (TxT) Summer Leadership Academy.
The Summer Coding Leadership Academy (SCLA) is an immersive 10-week experience where young men of color develop as technology leaders. Inner city students partake in experiential learning, receive mentoring and instruction to develop Leadership Skills, Computer Science Skills, Design Thinking Skills, and Entrepreneurial/Project Management Skills.
Through experiential learning, coaching & instruction, and mentorship,  use the skills gained throughout the summer to create a product/application that meets a social need or a demand in the marketplace. The culmination of the Summer Coding Leadership Academy is the Annual South Los Angeles Demo Day. On Demo Day, TXTers are enthused to showcase the skills that they have acquired, and the digital manifestations of those skills through the minimal viable products(M.V.P) they have built. A panel of judges reviews the Demo Day teams and determines 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
Nehemiah's team obtained the second place during Demo Day. Mr. Williams helped develop an app for amateur farmers, connecting them with weather patterns and giving them advice for crops accordingly. A week later, Nehemiah and a group of his fellow peers were invited to Silicon Valley to talk about their experience in the program and share their innovative ideas with some of the top minds in the industry. 
We are very proud of you Nehemiah! Dont forget us when you become a CEO in Silicon Valley! 
Where are our scholars going to school?

A St. Matthias alumna, Ms. Melissa Turcios is proud to return to her alma mater as the Onward Scholars Program Director. Ms. Turcios was awarded the Posse Foundation Scholarship, and received her B.A. in Spanish Literature and Linguistics with a minor in Education from Dickinson College. She then pursued her passion for mentoring youth as a Language and Culture Ambassador in Madrid, Spain. In addition to teaching secondary students, she served as the College and Career Advisor to candidates for graduation. Ms. Turcios is excited to introduce students to the myriad of opportunities available to them, and assist students in making informed decisions about their college and career path. 

A Los Angeles native, Ms. Turcios returned home to receive her Master’s in Education from Pepperdine University. At Pepperdine, she helped lead a college access program which addressed the academic and wellness needs of high school foster youth and their families. Most recently, Ms. Turcios served as an Admission Counselor at Loyola Marymount University, where she led diversity recruitment and outreach initiatives. 

Ms. Turcios is excited to join St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy in supporting student’s whole-self-development and promote life-long learning.  As a first-generation graduate, she is passionate in supporting and counseling students in accessing higher education to become engaged community leaders, and encouraging students to DREAM BIG!