Meet the Students of 2007


Erin has been on her own since she was a child. Her mother was murdered when she was four, and she was sent to live with her father. Her father struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, and Erin was left alone much of the time. She frequently slept at other people's homes. There were periods of time when she lived in her father's car in a meadow. When Erin was fifteen, her father, who was unable to provide for her, left her in the custody of a friend. She became pregnant by age 16, and delivered a baby boy whom she has courageously given up for adoption. Erin is currently in foster care, and will attend LTCC next fall. She is an amazing young woman who earned straight A's last term. She plans to obtain a degree in counseling.

Alberto was brought to the United States when he was about six months old, and has attended Lake Tahoe schools since kindergarten. Alberto is a bright young man who was recommended for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program in the eighth grade. In his freshman year, however, Alberto and his girlfriend became parents to their son, Omar. The following year, Alberto chose to finish high school as soon as possible by attending Mount Tallac High School, in order to provide for his young family. Completing high school in three years, while working full time, is testimony to Alberto's commitment to his girlfriend, who has remained on a rigorous college-prep track to UC Davis. Alberto will attend American River College in the fall, where he'll study auto body repair.

Unnati has spent her childhood as her parents' liaison to the American way of life. From interpreter to English teacher, Unnati has been expected to maintain the family's Indian culture and religion, yet be a model student and daughter in a culture that often contradicts her parents' way of life. Unnati's family has struggled with serious financial issues, and has had to move around quite a bit, but Unnati's dedication to her parents has been her main priority. There were times in which Unnati felt like giving up on any dream of a future independent of her parents' culture, yet she has persevered in blending her mixed, if not contrary, roles. She will be attending American River College in Sacramento next year.

Ana's easy-going nature belies the tragic events that have riddled most of her childhood. Molested at a young age in her native Mexico City, and then relocated to a new country, language and customs at age twelve, Ana has insisted on overcoming the past, and achieving the American dream. At one point, both Ana's father and sister were incarcerated at the same time, and Ana shared in all family responsibilities, including caring for her sister's children. In spite of such extreme circumstances, Ana graduates this year with a remarkable 3.7 GPA, having completed a full-college prep curriculum that includes AP English, AP U.S. History, AP Psychology, and AP Spanish courses. Ana will start her studies in psychology at LTCC this fall.

In the fourth grade Sean's life changed forever when Sean's father, who had suffered from depression, committed suicide by shooting himself. As only a young child may be apt to do, Sean later showed the gun to some elementary school friends, which promptly got him expelled from school. In spite of this tragedy, and the pursuing adversities, Sean has managed to keep a resilient, optimistic attitude, and to excel in school. Sean is first to mention that his mother deserves this honor, for her strength in raising Sean and his two brothers, but Sean's academic success is his own. After completing a rigorous course load of several Honors and AP courses, Sean has been accepted to UC Santa Cruz for the fall. He plans to become a marine biologist.

Asha was born in Los Angeles to an African-American father and Mexican-American mother. Asha's parents separated when she was an infant, and Asha and her sister were sent to Mexico to be raised by extended family while her mother worked in the States and sent money. Asha remembers her childhood in Mexico as one of disconnect and loneliness, as well as poverty. Asha's mother sent for her and her sister when Asha was ten, but the transition was difficult. Learning to speak English, as well as learning to fit into the mainstream culture, has presented Asha with challenges, but she has risen to the task. Just re-united with her father last year, Asha has learned to adapt to her circumstances with optimism and grace. She graduates this year with a strong academic record that includes AP classes, as well as Advanced Chorus. Asha will attend Lake Tahoe Community College in the fall.

Jackie had to deal with the arrest of her father this fall for internet child pornography. Jackie lives with her stepmother and little sister, as her own mother left the family in Jackie's middle school years. Jackie works to help pay for her own "luxuries", i.e. cheerleading expenses, clothing, toiletries, etc, yet Jackie maintains an upbeat, resilient attitude that people find refreshing. Jackie has dealt with these obstacles in a dignified, graceful way that has earned her the respect of her teachers and peers. Jackie will be attending a California community college in the fall.

Abigail is an extremely bright young person who came from El Salvador to South Tahoe High in her sophomore year. In that first year, Abigail earned straight A's in all classes, including two A+ grades in English and P.E. Surprisingly, Abigail passed the California Exit Exam after only being in the U.S. for eight months. Abigail graduates this year with a remarkable 3.86 GPA. She has always worked after school to provide for her mother and three siblings who remain in El Salvador, and whom she knows she'll not be able to see again for a very long time. Abigail is convinced that the key to her future is education, and that mastering English is the first step. She will start her studies at LTCC in the fall, and transfer to a University of California campus to finish a degree in counseling.

Francisco is a HERO because he has quietly earned a ranking of 7th in his class, has completed nine AP classes, and has earned an incredible 4.47 GPA while being a second language learner. As the oldest child in his family, Francisco has always helped his parents negotiate the family household duties from shopping, to paying bills, oftentimes as his parents' translator. These past four years Francisco has enjoyed volunteering at Barton Memorial Hospital, as well as helping tutor elementary students after school. Francisco has been a model AVID program participant, and will be attending Santa Clara University next year as a bio-chemistry major.

Joey's family has always struggled with addiction, yet somehow Joey has maintained the courage to rise above that cycle. In his sophomore year Joey's mother, father, and brother all went to prison for extended periods of time. Joey literally spent months providing for himself, and sleeping on friends' couches. In Joey's own words, "Its amazing how the transformation of someone can happen as a result of addiction." Still, Joey is proud of his parents, and is adamant that they not be perceived as "bad people". One of Joey's fondest memories is swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco with his father. Joey's incredible academic success includes a 4.18 GPA, as well as completing AP Calculus, AP English, AP Psychology, Honors Chemistry, Honors Trigonometry/Math Analysis, and other rigorous classes. Joey will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in the fall.
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