Preston Rivas

Burlington-Edison High School senior Preston Rivas has a scholarship to study computer science at the University of Washington.

BURLINGTON — Like many teens, Burlington-Edison High School senior Preston Rivas is interested in computer science.

“I really like the way you have to think to solve the kinds of problems (with computer programming),” Rivas said. “The ways you have to figure out these new solutions.”

The 17-year-old was recently awarded a $40,000 Amazon Future Engineer scholarship, which will help him pursue his dream of studying computer science at the University of Washington.

Rivas said he applied for the scholarship in October and, thinking it was a long shot, forgot about it.

“Next thing you know, it comes in the mail,” he said. “It was a big surprise.”

The scholarship is for high school seniors who have completed an Advanced Placement computer science course, and plan to continue their studies at a four-year university.

Rivas has already been accepted to the University of Washington’s computer science program, he said.

“I just need to click the accept button,” he said.

While Rivas is grateful for the money, he said he is just as thankful for what came along with the scholarship — a paid internship at Amazon for the summer of 2021.

“The money is very, very important,” he said. “The internship is even more meaningful. It’s nice to be able to get that experience in the field.”

Ultimately, Rivas said he would like to get a job at a technology company in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps at Amazon, Microsoft or Boeing, he said.

“I think that those are really interesting places to pursue computer science,” he said.

Being awarded the scholarship has taken some stress off Rivas, he said. He has an older brother in college, so the financial help will be appreciated, he said.

However, the high school senior isn’t resting on his laurels. Even with schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rivas is still studying for four AP tests he will take.

“We’re so proud of him, he’s worked really hard in school,” said his mother, Emily Rivas. “It’s really fun to see him so excited about it.”

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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