Meet the Students of 2009


Yudith moved to the Tahoe area from Mexico as a high school student, working hard to learn English and to graduate on time with her class. Since living in Tahoe as a teen, Yudith has been self-supporting. Neither of her parents lives with her or offers any financial support to her. Yudith works full time at a bakery in order to support herself and to pay non-resident fees at LTCC. She has been attending LTCC since the winter of 2006, often completing between 15 and 20 units each term. She is graduating from LTCC with A.A. Degrees in Criminal Justice and Spanish. Yudith plans to find a second job over the summer in order to earn extra funds to help continue funding her education. In the fall Yudith will transfer to Sacramento State University, majoring in Criminal Justice. During her time at LTCC Yudith has maintained a very impressive 3.67 grade point average.

Sandra is one of the most incredible young women I have ever met. Words that come to mind when thinking about Sandra are bright, passionate, responsible, mature and insightful. Her life has not been an easy road thus far. Born in Los Angeles she was sent to Mexico to live with relatives at the age of three and lived there until she was ten. She returned to the United States at the age of ten and landed in South Lake Tahoe. She started at South Tahoe Middle School and was placed in all ESL classes and began working on learning English. Teachers soon noticed that Sandra was very bright and had potential to do well in school and moved her into mainstream classes even though her English was low. She excelled. During her freshman year in High School her world shattered, her parents divorced and she was left to work and help support the family. Again her education was disrupted. The next year she tried to be a student and a support for her family but the pressure was too much and she started making poor choices. The end of her sophomore year she became pregnant. As her life began to unfurl again she landed at Mt. Tallac High School. At Tallac she was able to manage her life both in and out of school. She had her baby and began focusing on being a great mom and a great student. This year her mother had another baby and Sandra became head of the household for herself and her mother and two younger siblings. She is working full time and coming to school to complete her senior year. The maturity and determination she shows is truly Hero material. Sandra plans on attending Lake Tahoe Community College in the fall to begin her prerequisites to become a doctor, which I have no doubt she will complete.

Rosy is bright, bilingual, beautiful and one of my Heroes. Born in Mexico she moved to the United States with her mother, father and two brothers when she was four. Her parents made the decision to leave Mexico for their children to give them an opportunity they never had, education. Like many immigrant families Rosie’s parents worked many jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their children’s heads. Also like many immigrants Rosie’s brothers made very poor choices and got involved in gangs and never finished school. Her parents were heartbroken. As Rosie grew up she also started on the path of gangs, drugs and violence. She ended up becoming pregnant at the age of seventeen and dropped out of school and life. The father of her baby is an older man who is involved in gangs still to this day. Rosie however has completely turned her life around. She came back to school and is working hard to make positives decisions for herself, her family and her baby. Rosie is on track to graduate and will be attending LTCC in the fall. Her goal is to attend LTCC for two years and then transfer to a four year school and pursue a degree in counseling. Being an AB540 student this scholarship will help her realize her dreams. Rosie has now made her parents very proud and their sacrifices worthwhile.

Hannah’s life changed at a very early age. When four years old she was in a devastating car accident in which her mother was killed. Despite growing up without her, Hannah became a young woman with an optimistic outlook on life and a warm, embracing, outgoing personality. With the support of her dear father and brother Hannah has blossomed. Her brother became the glue in her life and her mentor; she considers him her best friend. Hannah loved to watch her brother’s baseball games and she became the youngest scorekeeper in the history of local baseball. In Hannah’s sophomore year her brother left for college; she experienced anew a tragic sense of loss. That was the most difficult year in her young life, but she managed to overcome her grief with the help of a very special STHS teacher. From that experience Hannah has become her own person and gained a sense of independence. One of her passions is singing; she sings in all kinds of venues, Hannah is a natural leader. She was the 8th grade president at St. Theresa’s and is the current Associated Student body president at South Tahoe High School. Hannah will begin her dual major in communications and business at San Diego State University in the fall of ’09. She hopes to become a sports broadcaster.

Eric is brilliant, artistically brilliant. He grew up in a family with a transient lifestyle moving from location to location and living in substandard housing. Because of the frequent moves Eric was isolated and had no friends while growing up in Bakersfield. He was considered anti-social and suffered extreme low self esteem which continues somewhat to this day. His parents divorced when he was two years old and he was raised by his single mother. They moved back to the Tahoe area when Eric entered the sixth grade. Eric’s father reentered his life in his senior year. Eric’s mentor is Leonardo Da Vinci. Eric is able to capture science and art and unify them in his work. Prior to beginning one of his most striking paintings he spent one and a half days calculating mathematical equations for accuracy once paint meets canvas. Art critics deem his work incredible and he has recently entered some pieces in competition, just this week two of his painting places 1st and 2nd in a congressional contest for which he won a trip to Washington DC. His artwork will drape the halls of the Capitol in addition to the halls of STHS. Eric is interested in many fields; he is an accomplished musician, enjoys all academic subjects and hopes to combine his varied interests into a college major. Despite his acceptance to UC Davis, he will begin his undergraduate studies and Lake Tahoe Community College where he plans to take advanced classes and continue his artwork.

Kristian is the most conscientious, anxiety-ridden, achieving student I’ve ever met. And she’s a sweetheart to boot. Kristian grew up in Tahoe with her mother and brother. When she was a sophomore in high school Kristian and her sibling were moved to three different foster homes because of her mother’s drug addiction. Kristian describes it as the worst her of her life. However, she continued to achieve in school. Kristian was so grateful that six months later she was able to reunite with her family. Her mother really wanted her children to return home and she was motivated to clean up her act. Kristian is diligent. She’s become a self-advocate and self-actualized person. She learned how to turn her “worry about everything” personality into real success. She so hopes to “make something of her life and accomplish important things” – something she says she has not witnesses in her family. Kristian has worked at Raley’s for approximately two years to help her family and herself. She will continue working there this summer and attempt to get a second job as well to help with college costs. She currently has a college GPA of 3.72. Kristian plans to attend Monterey Peninsula or Fullerton College.

When you meet Eneida, you immediately know you are in the presence of someone special. Eneida possesses an underlying strength and focus that can sometimes be missed because it is housed in such a kind and gentle package. All you need to do is examine her transcript to understand her dedication to learning; knowing that she left her native country of Mexico at thirteen years of age without her parents to live with her brother and pursue an education speaks to her character. Eneida knew at a very young age that America is truly the land of opportunity, so she came to South Lake Tahoe as a middle school student. Initially, school was difficult since she did not know any English., but being a quick study, and dedicating six hours daily to homework, Eneida learned English very rapidly, Soon she was earning all A’s in her classes, even in college-prep coursework, This stellar academic performance after only one year of English language development led to academic awards every year since 2004, including the President’s Award for educational Achievement in 2005. More impressively, she accomplished all of this on her own without support from home.

As Eneida has matured throughout high school, many interests and talents have emerged. She loves to study French and Italian along with improving her English skills. She has found that she a knack for language and is earnestly pursuing her third language. Eneida is an avid reader and has a talent for poetry. Another remarkable talent Eneida has discovered is her visual arts ability. A new visual arts teacher came to our campus this year and she has brought out the best in Eneida, so much so that Eneida chose oil painting for her senior project. Her artwork is hanging in our office and library and she has been approached by staff to sell her work. She has caught the eye of the Tahoe Art League as well.

Eneida would be the best choice for “ambassador of the year” if there were such an honor in our high school. She embodies cultural understanding and models assimilation with every word she utters and non-verbal communication she displays. She endears herself and her culture as communicates through several mediums: poetry, essays, artwork, or just her infectious smile. Eneida graduated mid-year with a 3.91 GPA and is currently attending LTCC. Her post-college contributions will benefit society in whatever field she finally decides to pursue, be it business, visual arts or a combination of the two. Her work ethic and desire to learn and be an educated citizen is truly admirable.

Michael is a remarkable student, but more importantly, he is an admirable person beyond academics for the characteristics that lie inside him. I can say this with conviction because Michael has borne the burden of his father’s kidney cancer since 2002 with grace and maturity, In fact, I knew about his father’s disease before I met Michael as his father came to our house to do plumbing work. The family has been through six years of ups and downs depending on his father’s condition. His dad routinely flies to Los Angeles for treatment since the cancer has spread to his lungs. His father’s goal is to see his only child graduate from high school and enter college, Mrs. Wright is no less remarkable since she is a full-time grocery clerk, maintains the household, and supports her family emotionally with her contagious positive spirit. One would never know about his situation; in fact, Michael just recently took me into his confidence about his dad’s health. There is no outward evidence that his family is going through a crisis and I believe that is due to Michael’s strong support system through his loyal friendships and focus on a healthy lifestyle.

I share this family’s story with you to illustrate why Michael deserves our admiration. He has been able to achieve at this academic level through his natural ability (he is a quick-study), maturity and love of learning. Unlike many of our top students, Michael’s parents, while supportive, have not paved the way for him. He has done that on his own. He decided early in middle school that he wanted to pursue a career that utilizes science and math. After returning from the Leadership Forum on Medicine in Los Angeles last summer, he decided that becoming a doctor was not for him. However, he still maintains a strong interest in science, math, nutrition and exercise, taking classes and Lake Tahoe Community College to fulfill that desire. Michael will graduate as our salutatorian with a 4.6176 GPA and is attending UCLA in the fall of 2009. His intended major is applied mathematics.

The best way to describe Jose is “wise beyond his years”. Jose lost his mother to illness in 2004 as a 9th grader. His father died shortly after. Jose and his siblings were separated to live with their uncles. Jose moved into the home of his Aunt and Uncle here in South Lake Tahoe. Although the emotional pain of his grief and relocation could have lead to self destructive behaviors, Jose followed through on promises he had made to his mother to stay off drugs, out of gangs and graduate. Jose is a role model to his peers. He is the one that friends and family members turn to when times are tough as a pillar of strength. It is hard to believe that he is the one who has been through the tough times. He has been employed through much of High School and has a valuable work ethic which will always serve him well. Jose has been described as having a gift and passion for art, Student and adults alike are always asking him to create pieces for him. Jose has been a leader of the Unity Art Crew which has done community service with younger students as well as given his artistic buddies a place to create urban art; Jose plans to attend the Lake Tahoe Community College art program for more formal training. He dreams of attending a professional art school or learning to transfer is artistic abilities to car design. This young man will be a success in whatever endeavor he pursues.

Kevin has faced numerous challenges throughout his young life. He is determined, resilient and a very capable recipient of the Hero Scholarship. He has been able to overcome many challenged. He has been raised in South Lake Tahoe after his parents moved from Chicago. Kevin’s mother died of Breast Cancer when he was attending South Tahoe Middle School. The loss of Kevin’s mother at such a young age hurt him deeply. In her honor, Kevin has dedicated his life to preparing for a career in medicine; Kevin has also developed leadership skills and strong character through his involvement with the Boy Scouts earning Eagle Scout honors in November 2006. Kevin has been accepted at the University of California at Berkeley. Kevin can definitely utilize all the financial support available.

Jonathan is a hardworking, honest young man who would benefit from the support of the HERO Scholarship. Jonathan has struggles through high school with his mother’s breast cancer and step-father’s battle with alcoholism. His mother lost her job for Washoe County and has to file for bankruptcy for protection from all the medical bills that she couldn’t pay without insurance. Despite the family turmoil and financial hardships, Jonathan has been able to excel at South Tahoe High School. He has been a strong and quiet leader in football and went to the state tournament in wrestling. He was planning to attend CSU Sonoma but due to financial problems will have to settle for Shasta College. Jon’s parents’ got separated because of his step-father’s alcoholism and now his mother has moved away from Tahoe. Jon had to rent an apartment from a fellow employee because he hasn’t finished high school yet. After graduation Jon will move to Shasta to attend college there. He can definitely use our financial support.
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