2008 Scholars

Adedayo Abioye

Oakland Military Academy

Last summer a golden opportunity crossed my path-to volunteer in a Latin American country. I dove into fundraising enthusiastically because I knew this trip would change my life. In Nicaragua, I helped teach at the local school and rebuild the community center. Though I come from a poor area, I gained perspective from the living conditions there. My experience allowed me to become more independent and has matured my views on life. I have learned that there are unlimited opportunities available to anyone, and all that is needed is an outgoing mindset and determination.

“Dayo is a leader and a role model. Younger students trail Dayo around because they seek his approval. He has a calming effect on the other students.”

Joan Setka, English Teacher
Oakland Military Institute

Solomon Cooper

Skyline High School
San Jose State University

College is an extremely important step in my life. Watching my mom raise me as a single mother has made me strive to do my best. Losing my dad at an early age has also shaped me into the man I am today. I think that my father’s passing truly made me want to pursue the medical field because then I will be able to prevent for others what happened to me. Even though I am just one person I may have the chance to change somebody’s life for the better.

“Solomon is indeed a very well-rounded, socially conscious, gifted athlete, musician, and leader who will achieve many great things if given the chance.”

Dan Fisher, High School Coordinator/College Advisor
Mills Educational Talent Search

Hilario Garcia-Moron

Oakland High School
UC Davis

I’ve been a starter for the Varsity Baseball team at Oakland High school for the past four years. I lead by example on and off the baseball field. Being raised by parents that are monolingual and getting little support from them in the things I do can make it difficult to accomplish great things. I take my education really seriously; I am going to be the first person from my family to attend college. Hopefully, I can be the one to show my family what getting a higher education can do for your life and set a good example for future generations.

“Hilario is a quiet leader. He is self-motivated, honest and trustworthy. I have been coaching for 15 years, and it’s kids like Hilario that make it all worth it.”

Harold Jefferson, Baseball Coach
Oakland High School

Michael Jefferson

Skyline High School

Throughout my life, there have been many trials and tribulations. Karate changed my life, it added boundaries, and kept me off the streets. I currently hold two very prestigious world titles in the sport karate realm. I am a great competitor but I have found joy in giving back. As many adults know, with ability comes responsibility. I teach karate at Howard Elementary after school program, where I am responsible for 40 students ranging from first to fifth grade. I am instilling the kids with discipline and future life skills.

“Michael has taken being a World Champion with a great attitude. I feel that a small part of the world has benefited from his integrity, perseverance and indomitable spirit.”

Ernest Leon Frohm III, Owner
Frohm’s Martial Arts

Jasmine Johnson

Florida A & M

Since birth I’ve been surrounded by a violent, drug afflicted home and community environment. Despite the hardships of living in Oakland I have not used this as an excuse to compromise my education. Dance has been my strongest passion. I find dance to be the best way to free my mind from all the pain that surrounds me. Through dance I have also been exposed to diverse cultures. I am confident that visual and performing arts will expand my knowledge and further my passion for the betterment of my community.

“Jasmine maintains a positive attitude and does not allow any situation to defeat her. She is fiercely independent but does not allow her pride to stand in the way of asking for help.”

Valerie L. Thompson, Counselor
East Oakland School of Arts

Ashytin Lowe

McClymonds – EXCEL
Sacramento State University

My improvement in reading and writing is significant because African-American males get the message from society that we are not intelligent and that the only thing we can do is dribble a basketball or throw a football. I’m different because school is just as important to me as football. Football keeps me out of trouble, and school keeps me focused. I am a very hard worker and I love to help others. I want to attend college so that I can get a degree and start my own business one day.

“Ashytin has overcome many obstacles. I am positive that the huge strides he has made in the past two years and his resolve to succeed will surely take him far.”

Nancy Lai, English Teacher
EXCEL High School


Jose Rodriguez

Oakland Technical High School
St. Mary’s College of California

I have learned that I enjoy helping others. Every March, my family and I buy toys to send to Guatemala to continue my grandmother’s tradition. Throughout my life, I have strongly believed that the biggest problem in the world is that not enough people help each other. Since the age of five, I have sought to understand people so that I can find a way to help them. I have also developed a great interest in the psychological effects of music. I hope to one day research many things in the field of psychology and share them with the world.

“Jose is an awesome young man with tremendous potential. He tutors other students, is an Eagle Scout, and helps his family a lot. He has a positive influence on everyone around.”

Tara Connolly, English Teacher
Oakland Technical High School

Husai Saidhakim

Emery Secondary School
UC Davis

I was born into a big family within a poor community in Afghanistan. We lived in constant fear of death. During the Taliban era I was not able to go to school because I was female. My family’s journey for a better life ultimately led us to the United States. As a young person, I always displayed a thirst for education. I am more dedicated than ever to be the first female in my generation to go to a university. Through life experiences and education, I am empowered to make the world a better place through hard work and tolerance.

“Operating at an optimal level of efficiency and productivity, Husai sets high goals for herself and meets every challenge head on.”

Lesia Whitehurst, Teacher
Emery Secondary School

Clarresha Slay

Castlemont – Leadership Prep
CSU East Bay

I am a very strong person. I could have given up a long time ago. I was being physically and mentally abused since the beginning of my ninth grade year. I was placed in a foster home. Through it all I have learned that I can do anything and be anything I want to be. I have learned to put it all behind me and stay focused on school. I plan to attend California State East Bay to realize my dream of being a nurse. I want to go to college and be the person that people said I could never be.

“This young lady has demonstrated tremendous resilience in overcoming family hardships. Clarresha is bright, conscientious, dependable and personable.”

Johnny Lorigo, Counselor Teacher
Leadership Prep High School

Hugo Torres

Fremont – College Prep
UC Santa Cruz

My experiences have made me not only see the problems that surround me, but have also inspired me to seek solutions. That is why I persist in obtaining a higher education. We can change our community from one that has drugs, violence and gangs into one that has peace, safety and well funded programs. I became a peer health educator with Clinica de la Raza, where I led workshops about safe sex. This inspired me to help youth because they need to be aware, as well as have male Latino role models.

“Despite his childhood of need, Hugo is not angry or bitter. He has decided to channel his energy toward making things better for his family and others in his community.”

Emiliano Sanchez, Assistant Principal
College Preparatory and Architecture Academy

Sergio Toscano

Fremont – Media Academy
Sacramento State University

When I entered high school, I did not care about school or keeping my grades up. This all changed when one day, my cousin invited me to church. The pastor opened my eyes. I asked myself, “What is my purpose in life?’ My junior year was a turning point. I joined the varsity baseball team. I became a leader.. I was the one who helped make the best of our wins and losses by telling my teammates that we must take pride and challenge ourselves in life. I told them this because I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college.

“The best words to describe Sergio include dependable, hard working, curious and ambitions. I would put my money on Sergio; he will succeed.”

Mr. Ruffner, Teacher
Fremont-Media Academy

Clarisha Walton

Castlemont- Leadership Prep

My most devastating moment was in my junior year when I experienced the death of my boyfriend of three years, Andrew Dwayne Porter. He was the 89th homicide in Oakland in 2006. His murder still affects me but it has also made me realize that I cannot take life for granted. I am now more focused in school and my drive to succeed has grown stronger. Despite the events that took place in my life that have brought me a lot of pain, stress, and struggles, I have realized that they were just obstacles to make me a stronger young woman.

“Despite personal hardships in her childhood, Clarisha is a role model to her peers because of her cooperative nature and good grades.”

Johnny Lorigo, Counselor
Leadership Prep High School

Bersabel Woldemariam

Oakland Technical High School
UC Davis

I grew up in Ethiopia but when I was 9 years old, I was deported to Eritrea just for being Eritrean. In Eritrea, you have to go to a military camp. I was approaching a life of a soldier. Instead of killing and taking lives, I wanted to give the opportunity of life. I wanted to become a doctor. When I was in 10th grade, I got the opportunity to come to America. I desired to show people what I can do regardless of where I come from. I do not limit myself and nothing will stop me from outreaching to learn more.

“Bersabel is like a sponge. She seeks out information and applies it to her situation to better herself. She is a hardworking student and takes her education very seriously.”

Jacqueline Johnson, Counselor
Oakland Technical High School