Meet the Students of 2012

Lake Tahoe Community College:


Yesha came to the United States from India with her family in 2008 and she has worked since then to support her own education. Yesha has overcome both language barriers and financial hardship in order to attend Lake Tahoe Community College and she has been one of the most involved students on campus during her time here. Yesha is an engineering major who will transfer to UCLA in the fall to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. She has been a member of the Associates Student Council for 2 years and is currently the Vice President of ASC. She is also President of the math club and Vice President of the Science and Engineering Club. She also serves as a member of the LTCC Foundation Board. While participating in all these activities, Yesha has attended LTCC as a full-time student, completing an average of 20 units per term; and she has maintained an excellent 3.7 grade point average.
South Tahoe High School:


Rachael is an incredible young lady who has overcome serious physical challenges. She has earned top academic ranking and should be our Salutatorian this year. She has both parents working but her father as the only family income is forced to live and work in Santa Rosa for the family to survive financially. Rachael has been driven for success and has done a remarkably in school despite suffering from undiagnosed Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) for several years. She started really suffering in 10th grade she was in an enormous amount of pain and the doctors didn’t know what it was.

Rachael had to get out of soccer because she could no longer run. The hard work that Rachael has exhibited in her studies was also present in her athletic pursuits. Rachael put forth effort to compete on the Varsity Tennis team the last few years. Again, she proved strong personal character running and training hard every year. Not knowing that she had a degenerative chronic autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and swelling. She continued to compete in basketball and tennis until this fall. It became too much. She was missing tons of school and always run down and in pain. Rachael was competing in sports and enduring the grind of advanced placement classes that would keep her up after midnight reading and studying on a regular basis.

Rachael was finally diagnosed with early onset JRA this fall and is now being treated for the condition. She had mixed feelings about the diagnosis. Rachael was very upset by having this disease at such a young age. However, she is grateful to know why she has been in such pain for so long. Also, Rachael knows it could be worse and appreciates the fact that her condition can be treated with strong medication and weekly shots. Rachael’s grandmother died from the complications caused by the same condition so this is scary. She has even more difficulty in school because she has missed 30 days of school due to lowered immune system and medical appointments.

Rachael has the academic integrity that we are looking for in our future leaders. Rachael doesn't want any special treatment for this condition. She has great pride in her academic accomplishments and will not tolerate or make excuses. However, she struggles to keep up in all her classes. Rachael has twice the work learning independently, making up work because she is missing more lectures. She has had to teach herself calculus without the help of her father who only comes up every other week the last two years.

Rachael is ready for the challenges of college. She has grown to appreciate life since being diagnosed with JRA. Rachael is still very competitive but has this change of perspective to enjoy life more than she did prior to being diagnosed with JRA. She has been changed by enduring more than two years of undiagnosed pain. She is enjoying life and is more outgoing than ever. She has been accepted at UCLA and plans to study Statistics. She plans to cover the $32K price tag and attend next fall with the help of $13K in Cal Grant Support. Rachael was unable to apply for more scholarships because of the toll that JRA has taken on her life.

Ulises has been able to overcome all the challenges of being a first generation, low socio economic, Hispanic boy in our community. He entered STHS determined to avoid the legal problems and self destructive behaviors of many family members. He was put down and abused at home by his older siblings because of being small and weak. When Ulises entered 9th grade at STHS his oldest sister was being charged with a violent assault and heading to prison. His brother Cesar had assumed a leadership role in the same gang and was in and out of trouble with school and the law. His older brother Enrique was bullying him at home. His father was on disability and abusing alcohol and prescription drugs. His problems mounted when his father was arrested for domestic violence. Ulises was worried about his mother and angry with his father who was stealing money for alcohol and drugs. The family was a mess and Ulises was trying to survive.

Ulises joined AVID to help him overcome all of these obstacles and achieve his goals. He has always been a hardworking young man who was different than his siblings. Ulises has chosen to avoid gangs as well as drugs and alcohol. Ulises endured and stayed focused on his goals with the help of his AVID family, teachers and sports. He was able to reach his potential. Ulises had his own emotional struggles growing up in his home. He was afraid to tell anyone at home about his own problems. He has suffered with anorexia nervosa throughout high school. He didn’t get professional help because he didn’t want to upset his mother she already had too much on her plate. He suffered in silence. Most days, Ulises would not eat or only ate one small meal with a little water. This diet made him very weak causing Ulises to pass out due to hunger. Again, he found support from outside friends and other adults noticed the problems and found help for Ulises. He still struggles with eating disorder and being extremely critical of himself, but is recovering and gaining weight.

Ulises is a student small in stature but very strong in character. He provides leadership in and outside of the classroom. Ulises has been involved in every school club and participated in Cross Country, Nordic Skiing and Track through most of high school. He has taken on every volunteer position that he could find from leading and organizing the students for the Festival of Trees and National Honor Society committee advisor or cleaning up the kitchen at St. Theresa’s Church after feeding needy families at Bread and Broth.

Ulises reports that he has an undying determination to succeed. He has demonstrated this by “suffering pain, sweat and tears to overcome the challenges in his life”. Ulises has done everything possible to achieve his goal of obtaining the best college education. He has successfully excelled in the most challenging courses, volunteered his time to every organization, helped his parents complete the financial aid paperwork and applied for every scholarship available. All of this work has paid off. Ulises has won the Dell Scholarship which will help with $5K renewable education scholarship. There is still a gap of an additional $5K to make his dream a reality. Ulises has been accepted and will attend Cal Poly to study mathematics and chemical engineering.

GPA: 3.35

Karen is a HERO for the simple fact that she has raised herself since her parents were deported in the summer before she entered high school. Even though her parents had been in the United States for over twenty years with stable jobs, bore all children of their children in the US, and owned two homes, they were deported to Mexico. Karen, her older brother Fermin (’09 STHS grad), and her two younger siblings had to face the dissolution of their family. Karen and Fermin stayed in the US to finish their education while the two youngest siblings moved to Mexico with their parents. Karen has lived with her Godparents for two years until they stopped making the house payments resulting in the loss of the Ramos family home. This caused a huge rift in the family, so consequently, Karen had to change homes once again. Thankfully she was able to move in with her Aunt, but there is no bedroom for her so she sleeps on the couch. Karen also searched for work and got a job in her sophomore year, using the money to support her needs for food, clothing, and personal items. It is remarkable that Karen has maintained a 3.35 gpa through all of the sadness and turmoil that she has endured, especially since she lost her job when the Blue Water Bistro closed its doors. Karen has only been able to see her parents twice over the past three summers, but is willing to continue to make the sacrifice for higher education because, as an AVID student, she understands the importance and education has for her future. Karen has $8000.00 in need in order to attend Sonoma State, her dream school, so a HERO scholarship would go a long way to help her with that goal.

GPA: 4.26
MAJOR: SOCIOLOGY, ECONOMICS, OR LITERATURE (not sure; she has many interests and talents)

Melissa looks like Cinderella, acts like Belle, and is as bright as her beautiful smile. Melissa began life in Fresno, California. Her parents moved her brother Mark (from a different dad), Billy, and Melissa to South Lake Tahoe when Melissa an infant. They moved back to Fresno two years later and her parents divorced. Four years later, her mother moved the family back to Tahoe. Unfortunately, her mother did not have a job or income, so the family spent time in hotels and finally in a campground when the money ran out. Melissa describes her mother as “wildly temperamental,” so life was never stable. Oftentimes Melissa found herself raising her younger sister, as her mother was unavailable. Sadly, Melissa contracted rheumatic fever at age 11 and spent the next seven months in and out of the hospital, receiving her education at home from a teacher who came in weekly to deliver her lessons. Her mother said she was “possessed by the devil.” As a result of her illness, Melissa deals with rheumatoid arthritis and will throughout her lifetime as it flairs and recedes. When her siblings reached an age where they had their own opinions that her mother could not handle, she would kick them out. When he was 16, her mother sent Mark to Germany to live with his grandmother. At 13 years old, she sent her brother Billy, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome three years prior, to live with her dad. When Melissa became thirteen years old, she was allowed to choose where she wanted to live, so she chose to live with her dad. She has been a support to both her father and Billy who requires a high level of support. Melissa has blossomed in high school, currently 15th in her class and a major talent in the STHS drama department. Melissa has filed all of her own college and financial aid paperwork and is in need of financial support to continue her well-earned educational career.

GPA: 3.25

When asked why he wanted to be a motivational speaker at such a young age, Tyler responded by saying, “Because I have a story to tell.” Herewith is his incredible story. Tyler was born into a world of drugs and alcohol in Placerville, CA. He was given alcohol at age 4 and “shrooms” at age 6, the year he was molested by “a friend” of his mother’s. He and his two brothers often found themselves homeless, crashing wherever his drug- addicted mother could find shelter. They spent time in foster care for a week or a month at a time, always being returned to their mother. At the age of 7, Tyler’s mom moved the family to South Lake Tahoe, maintaining the same lifestyle. There was often violence between Tyler’s older brother and his mother’s boyfriend, finally gaining the attention of Child Protective Services after one of the many police visits to their hotel room. Tyler, Ryan and Cody were placed in foster care when Tyler was 9 years old. Ryan, being seven years older, ran away the first night, but even though they tried, Tyler and Cody were caught before they could run very far. Through reunification, Tyler and Cody were returned to their mother a year later and she was clean by then. Tyler spent the next four years using drugs, alcohol, stealing and fighting with other kids while protecting his younger brother from harm. It wasn’t until the end of his 9th grade year that Tyler decided to turn his life around with the help of his girlfriend and his coaches. He wrestled for four years, finished second in the state of Nevada at 170 pounds. He played football for four years, too, and earned honorable mention as wide receiver and defensive end. Tyler is now a model student, an inspiration to those who know him and has a bright future ahead. He has been accepted to UNR in the fall and is working to secure the long snapper spot on UNR’s football team as a preferred walk-on in July. He also won the first round of the Rotary speech contest and came in second in the second round. If you want to reward optimism and honor excellence, Tyler Nesbitt had definitely earned it.

After being placed in foster care, Cora and her twin were adopted by their grandmother at the age of 3 years. Her older sister died from a drug overdose when she was 12 years old. One of her older brothers has been in and out of custody throughout her teen years. Cora has tried to manage a challenging relationship with her biological Mother. Cora has watched as her grandmother’s health has rapidly deteriorated. Throughout these personal battles Cora has remained in rigorous courses at STHS. Her hard work and personal integrity have allowed her to stay true to her goals and dreams. Cora plans to study psychology and begin her education at LTCC this fall.

Balancing school, a job, a baby, and living independently has not been an easy journey for Stephanie. Becoming pregnant at 16 was not in her plans. However, she has taken the challenge head on and is graduating from STHS with a 2.8 GPA. Neither of her parents finished elementary school much less high school. Stephanie will be the first in her family to attend college. She plans to become a labor and delivery nurse and begin her studies at LTCC. Stephanie has achieved her goals through inner strength and perseverance. She is an amazing mother and handles her life with integrity and poise.
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