2011 Scholars

Veronica Gabriela ArellanoVeronica Gabriela Arellano

Lighthouse Community Charter/ UC Santa Cruz.

Throughout the 11 years I have been in the United States, my life has been a steep hill that I have struggled to climb. My parents always remind me to work hard. “La unica herencia que les vamos a dejar es la educacion.” (The only inheritance we are leaving for you is an education.) This idea inspires me to work hard every day and not let the little obstacles in life stop me from having the future I seek. Even before high school, I knew I wanted to go to college to study Biology.

“Through positivity, determination, and benevolence, Veronica has overcome incredible barriers and redefined what is possible for herself as well as others facing similar life challenges.”

Joshua Weintraub, College Advisor
Lighthouse Commmmunity Charter

Jessica BahenaJessica Alejandre Bahena

Lionel Wilson College Prep/UC Santa Cruz

Four years ago, I was attacked by a clique of older girls. After, I felt like I always had to check my surroundings. Slowly I am acquiring the confidence and reassurance that I missed when I isolated myself from my community. Today I am focused on my academics and make time for socializing. I blossomed into an extroverted organizer. My optimism and desire to help others who have been let down, carries me forward. Although my native Oakland forms a big part of who I am, moving away will give me the opportunity to experience the world from a different perspective. “Jessica is resilient, intelligent, hard-working, and generally just an extremely pleasant person to be around. She is very aware of how her actions affect her success.”

Jodie Miller, Math Teacher
Lionel Wilson

Jenny ChenJenny Chen

Oakland High/ UC Davis

My immigrant mother raised my younger sister and me by herself. Looking back, whether through necessity or interest, I realize that I have generally sought out my own opportunities. I have been a self-taught artist since I was about five-years old. This passion has kept me motivated and out of trouble. My education is of great importance to me. The East Bay College Fund program is the support I need so that I can be successful in college, make a difference for my mom, show my younger sister that college is possible, and have the opportunities to help the causes that I care about most. “From spending a summer in Finland to selling her own fashion items, Jenny is one of the most creative and inspiring students I have taught.”

Ted Harris, English Teacher
Oakland High School

Shakuri EvansShakuri Malik Evans

McClymonds High / Humboldt State

I was raised in a single parent home by my mother. I find an inner peace by becoming someone who refused to allow obstacles to define my possibilities. When I was twelve years old my father finally came back into our lives. Over time I began to develop a relationship with him. Nobody saw the cancer coming. The cancer was like a thief in the night and robbed him of his life. Day by day I live my life in his name and continue to press myself because I know the strength he had for life is in me. “Shakuri has resolved to rise above a painful family crisis, economic hardship, and to become an agent for change both in his personal life and in his community.”

Marsha Rhynes, English/Drama Teacher

Marcus Clay GarretteMarcus Clay Garrette

Skyline / UC San Diego

I have learned that things do not always go according to plan and that you must be prepared to adapt to circumstances in order to be the best at whatever it is you strive to be. It is important to work hard in order to achieve your goals and disappointments usually turn into opportunities if you stay focused. I held the role of lead saxophonist in the Young Musicians Program at University of California, Berkeley for many years. This program has taught me that maintaining a quality standard of academics, musicianship, and citizen will take you places in life. “Marcus is thoughtful, organized, determined, reliable, tolerant, kind, conscientious, exceptionally gifted and focused. He commits to a project and will not give up until it is finished.”

Daisy Newman, Director Young Musicians Program
UC Berkeley

Isabel GonzalezIsabel Raquel Gonzalez

Lighthouse Community Charter/UC Santa Cruz

As a seventeen-year-old Latina, born and raised in Oakland, I have struggled to find my identity. Both as a female and an ethnic minority I am labeled as someone who is statistically designed to fail, but I will not allow myself to be categorized or defined by mere statistics. Four years ago, I was invited to be part of a prestigious program called Youth Roots. It gave me the opportunity to understand myself as a young woman. The voice that I discovered in Youth Roots has guided me to become an advocate, and a role model for other women like me. “In addition to her ferocious appetite for learning, Isabel is one of the most patient and compassionate students I have had the pleasure to teach.”

Yael Irom, Humanities Teacher
Lighthouse Commmmunity Charter

Eliezer GuerreroEliezer Absai Guerrero

Lighthouse Community Charter/ San Francisco State

Growing up in a nation where opportunities for immigrants are limited, I’ve realized that only those who are motivated ever achieve what they want.  The best thing to do is be yourself, make the most of your opportunities, and do your best to change the world or influence people around you.  I like to create paintings, stencils and a variety of mixed media.  Creating art such as self-portraits allows me to express myself and show others the type of person I really am. “Eliezer is a solid student, but what really distinguishes him from his peers is his humility and compassion.  His benevolence starts at home, where he takes on much of the responsibility of caring for his three younger siblings.”

Joshua Weintraub, College Advisor
Lighthouse Commmmunity Charter

Carlos HernandezCarlos R. Hernandez

Life Academy/ UC Berkeley

Neither of my parents finished high school because they had to work for their families and, they continue to sacrifice for us.  This fact ignited a spark in me that continuously pushes me.  I am passionate about helping people like me.  I want to show them firsthand that I won’t fall and neither will they.  I have taken the initiative to get involved in programs like FACES for the Future, that introduced me to the Bioengineering Group at the Oakland Children’s Hospital.  This exposure confirmed my interest in going into the health field. “In addition to being a top student, Carlos is a pillar of strength at home.  As the primary English speaker, he is the one person younger siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles can turn to when they need assistance on an array of matters.”

Nanci Roman, College Counselor
East Bay Consortium

Mi HuaMi N. Hua

Fremont-Mandela High School/ UC Berkeley

At age nine, when I walked past Vietnam’s airport door, I knew that I had left something behind in order to gain something new.  I left behind my beautiful and vibrant country to enter a world of new opportunities.  My parents taught me to be anybody that I want to be.  Their encouragement makes my dream of becoming an international businesswoman seem vivid and alive.  I want to travel the world, meet and interact with new people.  By feeling optimistic about my future, I can help my sister realize that her dream is possible to accomplish too. “She is a paragon of diligence, generosity and excellence.  I have the highest esteem for her as a student and as a person”

Kevin McNulty, English Teacher

Thalia JaureguiThalia Maleni Jauregui

Arise High School /CSU Chico

I have always been determined to persevere no matter how hard things got and to not be another statistic.  The only choice I had was to fight and break the system I was born into, a system where I was set up to fail.  Even though cancer was the hardest struggle of my life, I know that life will present more obstacles.  I also know that nothing will break me unless I let it.  I know my strength, determination and perseverance won’t let me fail and I will continue to rise to the top! “Thalia’s leadership and influence on others is hard to fully capture. She is a generous, compassionate spirit who shares her light with everyone with whom she comes in contact.”

Laura Flaxman, Couselor
Arise High School

Eli Isael MacielEli Isael Hernandez Maciel

Skyline High /UC Merced

The community I belong to known as “the projects” or “the ghetto”, to me, is home.  I have seen and endured many horrific situations.  Living in fear doesn’t leave much room for building progress.  I decided to take part in an internship called The Model Neighborhood Program at Highland Hospital.  Despite all of the rushing and long hours commuting to the hospital and arriving home late, it was completely worth it.  Now, I am confident I want to pursue a career in the medical field.  I am determined to give what I have learned, so others can do the same. “He has been the epitome of a leader and what a coach looks for in all of his student-athletes and what a coach looks for in all of his student athletes and I truly believe his qualities will carry him far in life.”

Andrew Cheng, Cross Country and Track Coach

Devareaux ManleyDevareaux Jahvan Manley

Castlemont-Leadership Prep /CSU Chico

Ever since ninth grade I have made honor roll.  As I try to focus on school, sports, and work there are many distractions around me.  I have encountered my home being broken into and sometimes I can’t even come home because streets are blocked off with yellow tape.  I have always realized that schooling was very important.  I know that education will be the key to unlock doors to my future success.  I hope to return to my community and pass the baton of encouragement to young men and women to help them catch the vision as well. “Devareaux puts his heart and full responsibility into everything he undertakes.  He appreciates every academic opportunity, and community volunteerism is part of the essence of his spirit.”

Marsha Rhynes, AP English Teacher
Castlemont-Leadership Prep

Ernest MarshallErnest Euette Marshall

McClymonds High /University of Northern Colorado

Weekend after weekend, alternating from family to family could take a toll on many adolescents.  However, it has helped me focus on my goals.  Although my mom couldn’t support me the way every young child wants, the support she provided has given me confidence beyond measure.  From my father I learned responsibility.  Ultimately I will decide my future.  I want to major in business, play college football and one day become a marketer for a large corporation, if not my own.  I will always remember where I come from, and help other young people like myself. “I am not alone in believing that Ernest, despite a low key and gentlemanly demeanor, will succeed at whatever goal he sets.”

Shakir Zaid, Pastor, Mentor, Tutor
McClymonds High

Daniel MastinDaniel Royce Mastin

Skyline High /Morehouse College

Luke 12:48 says, “To those whom much is given, much is required.” For most of my life I believed these sagacious words were tailored just for me.  I believe the writer was speaking of experiences and insight that springs forth from those.  I do all I can to be a moving force, mentoring middle-schoolers, playing baseball, being Senior Class President, on the path to Eagle Scout and an active member of Allen Temple Baptist Church.  These experiences provided me a tenacity I never thought I had, a drive to be better, to escape the stereotypes synonymous with my sex, age, and race. “Daniel is a great individual.  He is positive, funny, extremely polite and gentleman-like and respected by both faculty and peers.”

Cory Henrickson, Spanish/Leadership Teacher
Oakland Unified School District

Roberto MendozaRoberto Enrique Mendoza, Jr.

Castlemont-EOSA/ San Francisco State

My environment is unsafe, loud gunshots, people fighting, cursing, arguing, and police sirens. Living in a precarious neighborhood has taught me how to be look out for myself. East Oakland has shown me the kind of people I should be associating with and those I shouldn’t. My unique style is a way for me to express myself, but it started becoming a way for people to judge me without knowing who I really am. Despite, the hardships and trials, I still persevere and keep my head up to strive in life. Everyday I wake up thinking about my future. “Roberto is extremely self-motivated and has already outlined his interest in marine biology, drama and acting. He recognizes that college opens up doors and is excited about the opportunity to grow, learn, and pursue his interests.”

Fatima Ghatala, Teacher
Castlemont-East Oakland School of the Arts

Alfredo MontesAlfredo Montes, Jr.

Lionel Wilson College Prep /San Diego State

Life, already, has taken me a long way. I faced a life full of violence and grew up having to see my family fall apart. I couldn’t seem to move past these obstacles. Until one day I realized that the only thing I could do was get up and move forward. My wounds healed over time as I participated in BUILD , soccer, football, East Oakland Boxing Association, and Green Workforce Development. These experiences taught me valuable skills like discipline, responsibility, and leadership. Now I find myself physically and mentally ready for any obstacle or problem I am faced with. “Alfredo is considered a leader among his peers. He has a lively colorful personality and a never say die competitive side.”

Kevin Schultz, Dean of Students
Aspire Public Schools

Terranisha NathanielTerranisha Faye Nathaniel

McClymonds High /CSU Chico

Before my mother passed she told me to achieve all my goals, complete high school and go to college. She said, “Take advantage of my opportunities and gravitate toward positive role models that will ensure my success.” My mother’s advice on her deathbed has shaped my character as a tenacious young woman who refuses to give up on my dream. I know within my soul, college is a huge stepping-stone to success. I don’t want to allow my potential to slip away. I believe that my life experiences and determination will add to the education of my peers and the diversity of any college campus. “Terranisha has a passion for exploring ideas and learning about how the world works.  I have observed her grow into a passionate, articulate crusader for social justice.”

Ina Bendich, Teacher

Fernando PauretFernando Pauret

Arise High School /Wesleyan

I have lived with the expectation of not going to school and joining gangs. I started believing this reality and falling victim to the statistics. Then I met my high school principal. Like me, he came out of Oakland a poor minority student, and made a college education a reality. My junior year was one of transformation. I shifted my mentality. I know the struggles we have all gone through, the things we have seen in these streets; it makes me have hope I will see all of my classmates helping Oakland become a safer community. “With intellectual concepts, as with his life, Fernando is actively pushing his own boundaries and expanding his thinking.”

Laura Flaxman, English Teacher
Arise High School

La Juan PayneLa Juan Elester Payne

Oakland High/ Northern Arizona University

Growing up in one of America’s most violent cities, Oakland has greatly determined the person I am today and the goals that I have established for tomorrow. I couldn’t spend the rest of my life dodging bullets, not knowing what would happen next and barely existing in a place where violence and poverty was virtually guaranteed. I took valuable pieces of a teacher’s advice and began crafting an action plan. I thought about finding a way to best position myself financially, academically and socially in accordance with my new goals of successfully entering college. Now I am following through. “La Juan is very bright.  He is willing to apply himself and likes to see success next to his name.”

Alicia Romero, Principal
Oakland High

Esmirna PerezEsmirna Perez

Lionel Wilson College Prep /San Francisco State

Moving from Puebla, Mexico to East Oakland was a strange new environment at the tender age of four. While other kids my age were playing in the park, I had to work with my parents to pay the bills. Going to school wasn’t a comforting experience. Other students taunted me. I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak. I worked hard through all of this and it empowered me to become a strong, courageous, person. I will be an example and role model for future generations, showing them that college is a possible dream. “She is a model student both in work ethic and content mastery.  I have seen her maintain her focus and determination in situations where other students give up.”

Erika Malinoski, Instructor
Lionel Wilson

Jazmin ArrizonJazmin Ramos Arrizon

Skyline High /UC Davis

I began volunteering at the health center in my hometown in Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico. Working at the clinic also reflects my interest in Epidemiology and community-based projects. After my summer in Mexico, I returned to school and joined a peer education program, HEART. As I became more familiar with the material I was teaching to my peers, I began researching diseases that are prevalent in my community. As a prospective Epidemiologist, my goal is to prevent outbreaks by discovering simple methods of prevention. Disseminating knowledge and encouragement about common health care can have a real impact on the severity of outbreaks. “Her commitment to studying health and health policy cannot be accounted for by self-promotion alone.  She has a deep and sincere desire to uplift those around her.”

Anthony Gonzales, Teacher
Upward Bound

Dylan SaechaoDylan Saechao

Oakland High /San Jose State

I live in a single parent household. My mother works small jobs from morning to night. Since I am the eldest son, I am responsible for caring for my family. I clean my house, buy food and walk my siblings to school and home to assure their safety. My family moved to four different houses because of financial instability. I was pressured to sell drugs to help pay rent and bills. My grades were significantly affected. Quickly I realized my technique to support my family financially was not the right path. I focused on a new method, to succeed academically so that I could support my family in the long term. “Dylan has worked as a mentor and has done extensive community service.  He is hard working, easy going, positive, and inquisitive.”

Gordon Danning, Teacher
Oakland High

Christina SagunChristina M. Sagun

Castlemont-Leadership Prep/ UC Davis

Growing up with negativity pushed me away from my family. I felt like I was alone, and that no one understood me. Then in 2008 my nephew David was born. He brought meaning into my life. This year, he got severe pneumonia, and I was afraid that I might lose him forever, but he recovered. The experience changed me. Suddenly I realized that every minute of our lives counts. I became more open-minded, and learned to see the other person’s point of view. Seeing the pain my nephew went through made me want to become a pediatrician. “Christina is an academic powerhouse who is reaching with both hands for a future of service to others as a pediatrician.”

Marsha Rhynes, AP English Teacher
Castlemont-Leadership Prep

Ashaki ScottAshaki Nadine Scott

Envision Academy /UC Davis

My neighborhood is filled with crime where broken children fill the streets. The number of balloons and makeshift memorials are countless. In spite of all of the crime and poverty that surround me, I stay focused on my education. For six years, I have volunteered at Ariel Outreach Mission, a women’s shelter. I consider it a wonderful privilege and honor to help someone that is in need. My desire is to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree and earn at least my Masters Degree. Not only do I desire to go to college, but I also want to make a difference in this world. “Ashaki is a pleasure to have in class.  She holds her head up high and serves as a model for other students.”

Sonia Hansra, History Teacher
Envision Academy

Sherry TruongSherry Chan Truong

Oakland High/ UC Davis

As I grew up, I aspired to be like my siblings: responsible, hard working, and respected by my parents. This aspiration led me on a foggy path, but through this journey I found myself. I got good grades, was accepted to College Track, did community service, studied abroad in Japan and started the Environmental Science Club. These accomplishments gave me a sense of leadership. I felt powerful. I know I have the ability to achieve much. I do not need others approving my capabilities. “I’ve always told Sherry that one day she could be a very good manager because she works well with people, has a long term vision, thinks outside the box and is very resourceful.”

Aaron Lee, Youth Pastor
Heritage Baptist Church

Danielle TurnerDanielle Kim Turner

Skyline High / UC Merced

Growing up in a low-income, African-American household of five, I was motivated to push myself everyday to obtain a good education. A lot of responsibility is placed upon me because I am the oldest in my family. I was once told that I would drop out of high school as, according to statistics, other low-income students have. I was greatly offended by this because I believe that one should not be judged by the environment surrounding them, but by the qualities of one’s character. I want to make sure my sister and brothers follow in my footsteps. “Danielle’s maturity and independence, couples with her academic ability and her perseverance marks her as a distinguished student that has much to offer to her community.”

Israel Hernandez, College Advisor
Early Academic Outreach Program

Blessed VorgarBlessed Marrian Vorgar

Oakland International / CSU East Bay

If any one had asked me where I would picture myself in 4 years, I would have said, “back home in Africa”. I felt lost and confused. In 9th grade my Father died from cancer. My entire world stopped. Then, I developed a passion for running. While running I felt like I left all of my problems behind. Just like running, in life before you get to the finish line you must put all of your efforts into it. I believe that it is not about where you are from but rather where you are going; therefore the sky shall be my limit. “I’ve always appreciated Blessed’s maturity and sensitivity.  She has made an effort to know me and encourage me through my life’s challenges, to the point where I often wonder who’s mentoring whom.”

Edward Boyda

Armante WashingtonArmante Troy Dimitri Washington

American Indian Public High School/ UC Davis

Aerospace engineering is the only field that I believe can prepare me for a career as an engineer for NASA . This career would allow me to stretch the boundaries of space travel. To prepare for my unrealistic galactic ambitions, I must undergo a rigorous school schedule and deal with my own problems. High school is tough, but if I am unable to get to school everyday, then how will I be able to travel 24.6 trillion miles in a lifetime if I cannot travel 40 miles in three hours? Attending college could make my seemingly impossible dream a feasible reality. “Armante is eager for the challenge and focused on his ultimate goal to pursue aeronautical engineering, and I know he has the talent to succeed.”

Isaac Berniker, Math Teacher
American Indian High School

Diallo WeeksDiallo C. Weeks

Skyline High/ Dominican University

I am fascinated by the fun and happiness little kids have, enjoying every bit of their time, not worrying about the problems adults face. Making Oakland a better place is important to me. That’s why I enjoy working with young children at Redwood Heights Summer Camp and Early Head Start. Their vivid imaginations, natural gifts for comedy, and their open feelings have inspired me to write. Writing is a passion and outlet. I keep a journal in which I write down my daily thoughts and experiences. Keeping a journal will one day help me look back and see how I’ve changed and grown. “Enthusiasm seems to be Diallo’s mantra.  His attitude is refreshing in a time when malaise seems endemic; he is eager and bright.”

Tim Jollymore, AP English Teacher
Skyline High School

Imani WilsonImani Hadiyah Wilson

Oakland Technical /UC Berkeley

I was five the first time I went on a roller coaster—not the kind you find at an amusement park. I was on the roller coaster of life. Following my parents divorce, my mother and I struggled immensely. Through it all, my determination to do well in school stayed strong. If I could not control the roller coaster I would at least take control of my grades. I made sure I had time to study, no matter where I was. A good education will be my ticket to a better future so that I may be able to get off the roller coaster and jump on the merry go round. “Imani has been extremely successful during high school, which in large part can be attributed to her confidence, self-esteem, and belief that she is destined to accomplish great things.”

Shria Tomlinson, College Affairs Director
College Track