Lauren Salinero

Lauren Salinero wants to share with veterans what she's come to know and love about the guitar over 11 years of playing it.

Lauren Salinero wants to share with veterans what she's come to know and love about the guitar over 11 years of playing it.

Lauren Salinero of Mountain View, California, will use a $10,000 Donald A. Strauss Scholarship to establish a program to teach Sacramento-area veterans to play the guitar.

Salinero, a biotechnology major aiming to become a reconstructive surgeon, is one of 14 recipients of the competitive Strauss Scholarship that supports community service projects of juniors and seniors at selected California universities.

She wants to share with veterans what she's come to know and love about the guitar over 11 years of playing it. "The guitar has two main powers," she said, "the ability to take you outside of yourself and your day-to-day worries, and the ability to bring people together."

Later this month, Salinero will start a chapter of Guitars for Vets in partnership with the national, nonprofit organization and the Sacramento VA Medical Center.

Participants will receive private guitar lessons once a week for 10 weeks and monthly group lessons with other participants. Upon graduation, they will be given a guitar of their own.

Salinero said the program helps address the post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that some veterans experience. "Something as simple as a guitar can make a major difference in the life of a veteran struggling with these conditions," she added.

Salinero looks forward to serving people as a doctor. She volunteered at a hospital throughout high school, was a holiday volunteer at her local veterans medical center, helped plan the Mountain View Relay For Life for three years and interned at the UC Davis Health System last summer.

"While I don't yet know how to repair a cleft palate, regenerate severely burned tissue or restore functions to an injured hand, I do know how to rally community support, coordinate the local operations of a nonprofit and play the guitar," she wrote in her scholarship application. "These are skills I can use to make a difference in people's lives today."