Meet our 2016 Scholarship Winners

This year we were honored to present six $15,000 scholarships to an incredible group of college-bound young people who have participated in our programs. We’ve had the honor of watching these inspiring students grow over the last year and get ready for their next adventures. Read on to learn a little bit about them!
Portraits by the generous volunteer photographer Stephanie Theune of Schmootography.
Gonzalo DuqueGonzalo , Tom Savignano Scholarship
In 2012, Gonzalo made the decision to leave Guatemala and join his father in America. He explains, “I had to assimilate to being an immigrant and an English learner. These moments of my life were miserable and difficult, but I did not give up because my dad’s sacrifices motivated me.” Gonzalo has worked hard for years to help support his father, to succeed in school, and to help others in his community. A director of his school’s Peace Club and an active organizer in his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club, Gonzalo has shown his deep commitment to issues of equity and social justice. Gonzalo writes, “I want to attend college and ultimately become a lawyer to fight for justice, and stop the exploitation of innocent immigrant families.”
Silvia Mejia de PazSilvia, Florence and Irving Hochman Memorial Scholarship
A Mission High School faculty member describes Silvia as “one of the most resilient, dedicated, hard-working, and persistent students” she has ever worked with. Growing up in Guatemala, Silvia was discouraged from pursuing education. Still, Silvia fought to learn. She woke up early, helped her mother with housework, took care of her younger siblings, and worked with her father, on top of attending school. Silvia reflects, “My yearning for an education was bigger than anyone who wanted to deny me my dream.” Silvia came to the United States at age eighteen, making the journey alone. In San Francisco, she enrolled in Mission High, and was the first in her family to graduate from high school. Silvia will be attending college to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
Tofik MohamedTofik, Taylor Renfrew Ingham Memorial Scholarship
Originally from Eritrea, at age twelve Tofik and his family embarked on a dangerous four-year journey through Yemen, Sudan, and Kenya to join his father in America. When he arrived in the U.S., he attended Mission High School, though he had missed middle school. Tofik writes, “The joys of carrying a backpack again, the routine getting to school, stressing about homework…I am now more motivated to challenge myself and catch up on the years I missed.” Tofik has grown into an impressive leader, able to engage with anyone from any background. He writes that his dream is to “become a successful surgeon so that I can give back to the poor who are seeking help.”
Mateo Rosales-CisnerosMateo, Young Author’s Scholarship
Mateo, a passionate, self-reflective young man, is eager for the opportunity to give back to his community. From a young age, Mateo dealt with challenges at home, where he often felt powerless and struggled to find his voice. However, when he discovered his passion for writing at school, he was finally able to express himself and feel empowered. In high school, Mateo joined an academic group where he learned about toxic stress caused by childhood trauma; along with his fellow group members, he traveled to different universities lecturing on the subject. In his personal statement he writes, “I look to college as an opportunity to continue my work in health and well-being and to use my newfound voice to advocate for the silenced.”
Pricila RosilloPricila, Tom Savignano Scholarship
A dedicated and hard worker, Pricila’s dream is to graduate from a four-year university and become an environmental scientist and educator. When Pricila realized that financial instability and family struggles were impacting her ability to focus in school, she learned to ask for support from her teachers and counselors. She persevered, brought her grades up, and made the honor roll. Pricila writes, “Giving up is not an option for me no matter how difficult the situation is.” She is proud of how much she has grown as a person and knows she can overcome any challenge. Pricila now seeks to continue to support her family and make them proud. As her teacher explains, “The tenacity and resiliency of Pricila…has been inspiring to say the least.”
Binyam TeklegiorgisBinyam, Art Berliner and Marian Lever Scholarship
Binyam moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia when he was fifteen years old. At the time, he did not know any English and his family struggled to maintain stable housing in San Francisco. In spite of challenges at home, Binyam remained dedicated to his school work, to his soccer team, and to his community. College will be the next step on the path to achieving his dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. His teacher states, “He challenges himself constantly and is willing to work hard to achieve his goals.” Binyam writes that he will bring “determination to overcome challenges, seriousness about my studies, [and] open-mindedness about my future” with him to college.


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