Meet our 2017 scholarship winners

We were honored to present six $15,000 scholarships to an incredible group of college-bound students who have participated in our programs. Read more about these inspiring students to know who speaks three languages, who is involved in biomedical research, and what these amazing young people will carry with them to college. Congratulations!

Portraits by the generous volunteer photographer Paul Cartier.

Cristhian DiazCristhian Pineda Diaz, Tom Savignano Scholarship
Cristhian is a tirelessly hard worker committed to both his studies and his community. Arriving in the United States at the age of 14 from Honduras, he has since become one of the founding members of the Gay Straight Alliance at San Francisco International High School and, last summer, spoke of his own experiences as an immigrant at the ACLU Summer Institute in Washington, D.C. His math teacher considers him one of the most courageous people she has ever met. A fierce advocate for human rights, he has worked to create a dialogue about the experience of LGBTQ students at his school and to be a source of support to his peers. After college, Cristhian hopes to work as a lawyer and, eventually, a judge to advocate for children, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.

Sur ChenSur Huang Chen, City Arts & Lectures Scholarship
Sur Huang is a lover of languages. Before moving to the United States, she lived in China and Venezuela and speaks Chinese, Spanish, and English. Her linguistic prowess gives her a unique lens through which she views the world. She observes: “Every time I read a bilingual book, I always appreciate the beauty of the writing and recognize the differences between languages that monolingual people can’t comprehend. However, I understand that I have devoted tons of time to obtain this talent.” It is this awareness of her own abilities and the time it has taken her to develop them that makes her an excellent student and source of support for her classmates. Right now, she is learning Japanese “to discover more of its literary beauty and complete the puzzle of its mysteries,” and is interested in a career in linguistics.
Jeronimo PerezJeronimo Perez Flores, Tom Savignano Scholarship
Jeronimo has a knack for numbers. A highly sought-after math tutor in his high school’s after-school program, he has balanced a full-time job, supported his family, and maintained an unwavering commitment to his education. He arrived in San Francisco from Mexico at the age of 17 and, as one of his teachers writes, “the growth he has made as a student in two years is positively astounding.” Jeronimo’s love of math and past experience working in construction have inspired him to pursue a degree in civil engineering and, eventually, found his own construction company. On his way to college, Jeronimo tells us, “the most important thing I will carry with me in my transition to my new life in college is hope . . . I will take with me my stories, the bitter and the sweet ones.”
Miguel GuzmanMiguel Guzman, Taylor Renfrew Ingham Memorial Scholarship
An 826 Valencia student since he was six years old, Miguel is a true bibliophile. Hungry for literary discussion, he revived his school’s Book Lovers’ Club and raised hundreds of dollars to purchase highly requested books and Kindles for students. Since starting high school, he has sought out opportunities that challenge him as a student and a leader, and leaves no resource unutilized. When asked what he would take to college, Miguel said, “You might see me walking down the halls of the student residence building on move-in day carrying only two black duffel bags and a backpack. At first glance, you’ll think I am traveling light, but that’s not quite the case. With me, I’ll bring 18 years of memories, and deep-seated values.”
Gilda MarroquinGilda Temaj Marroquin, Art Berliner and Marian Lever Scholarship
Gilda left Guatemala by herself at the age of 16 to pursue her education. In the process she has become an advocate for girls’ education, starting with her younger sisters. On how education has impacted her, she reflects, “I feel empowered that through my writing I can empower other people to advocate for themselves.” Gilda’s curiosity is wide-reaching. Whether exploring civil rights with the ACLU or conducting biomedical research with UCSF, she continues to challenge herself and explore uncharted territories. One faculty member of San Francisco International High School tells us that she “brings joy and poise to anything she has in front of her. Gilda is an individual of exceptional talent, courage, and resilience . . . We are so lucky to have her as a leader in our community.”
Carlos GomezCarlos Gomez, City Arts & Lectures Scholarship
In 2011, Carlos became the first in his family to go to high school in Mexico. A month before graduating, he made the decision to join his parents in the United States after spending 15 years apart, but didn’t allow the change to interfere with his education. A student at Mission High School, he took AP courses while learning English to ensure he would be prepared for the rigor of college. He didn’t stop there either; Carlos would come to his teachers after class to ask questions and delve even more deeply into the material. His faculty advisor describes Carlos as “a teacher’s dream” whose unwavering determination and willingness to reach out for support will help him overcome whatever challenges he may meet.
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