Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
NEW AMERICAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM 2009 SCHOLARS Overview
In 2009, we received applications from 130 talented immigrant students, representing 62 Bay Area schools and 26 countries of origin. We invited nine extraordinary students to be part of our 2009 New American Scholars Program, awarding them $42,000 in scholarships. Our 2009 Scholars hailed from El Salvador, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, and the Philippines. They attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, and UC Los Angeles.
Sindy I'm the first ESL student in my school to ever
attempt to earn the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. IB
classes are indeed challenging -- they are college level courses -- and
to excel I've had to work twice as hard as native speakers.
has accomplished what no other English as a Second Language (ESL)
student at Sequoia High School has ever done before: she's just
graduated from the highly rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB)
program. She did this by learning English in only six months, taking a
full-load of demanding honors classes, including Theory of Knowledge
and Environmental Systems, and earning a 3.87 GPA. Now Sindy is well
prepared for the rigors of UCLA, where she plans to study law. Her
achievements extend beyond the classroom: she's raised awareness and
funds for undocumented students, fed the homeless, led bilingual health
presentations, and mentored other immigrant youth. In all, she has
contributed over 400 hours of service to her community. We're not the
only ones captivated by Sindy -- she was recently profiled on KQED's
The California Report and the San Jose Mercury News!
Elisa I was accepted into the California State Summer
School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) program at UC Santa Cruz.
During the four-week residential program, I found myself in a college
environment. I quickly adjusted to the college life, and was excited
for the coming of each new day. As I gained valuable insight into the
Marine Biology field, I realized I was ready for college.
Elisa is indeed ready for the demands of college. An immigrant from
the Philippines, she recently graduated from Pittsburg High School with
a 4.56 GPA. She was valedictorian in a school of nearly 2,000 students.
During her summers, Elisa pursued college-level academics, first taking
AP Macroeconomics at UC Berkeley and then Marine Biology at UC Santa
Cruz. She has also taken on many leadership roles, which have enabled
her to give back to the community, including an internship with Contra
Costa County Supervisor Federal D. Glover and officer positions in her
school's Key Club and California Scholarship Federation. Elisa's
strong Filipina roots and family ties will continue to support her
success as she begins to pursue a degree in Business Administration at
UC Berkeley this fall.
Vianey I'm constantly bombarded with the statistics
declaring that I, a Mexican girl, will get pregnant before 17, drop out
of high school, never make it to college, end up working at McDonalds,
or become enslaved by drugs. But I know I'm better than these
Vianey has never even thought of dropping out of
school. At Aragon High School, she's maintained a nearly 4.19 GPA and
been on the honor roll every year. She's also played soccer and track
and field, been an AVID tutor, and volunteered in the Arthritis Center
at Mills Peninsula Hospital. Vianey plans on studying Nursing at San
Francisco State University, where she'll be attending in the fall. "I've got a fire burning bright night and day in my bosom," she says. "It reminds me to keep on going and never give up." We’re so excited to
see Vianey prove those statistics wrong.
Mario I thought about Harvey Milk. He knew that being an "out" politician meant he could be assassinated, but he still fought
for gay rights. I reminded myself that leaders have to take risks in
order to gain anything. Maybe I could be deported for going public with
my story. But maybe I'd also have the chance to change people's
viewpoints, affirm the American Dream, and benefit thousands of other
A few months ago, Mario made a
courageous decision. He chose to participate in a nationally televised
story about undocumented college students, produced by ABC News Good
Morning America. The risk of being identified and deported might have
stopped other undocumented students from participating in the story,
but Mario is no stranger to difficult choices. After coming from Peru
when he was 12 years old, Mario lived apart from his mother and father
while attending Oceana High School in Pacifica. He was confronted with
many prejudices against homosexuals, especially in his church, but
still found ways to embrace his Christian beliefs and homosexuality.
Mario graduated as valedictorian of his high school class, and then
decided to pursue the rigorous Civil Engineering program at UC
Berkeley. He has since been a leader in the gay community,
participating in activities with the Bay Area Gay Straight Alliance,
the American Civil Liberties Union, and Asians & Pacific Islanders,
Queer & Questioning, 25 & Under, All Together (AQU25A).
Dulce As the end of my high school career comes near, I
realize how proud I am of overcoming so many obstacles while
maintaining my success in school. It would have been easy for me to
take a different path in life, but I have chosen to become the first in
my family to attend college. As tragic as my experiences have been, I
have developed the character and academic skills to do well in college
and in life.
Dulce is a survivor who refuses to let pain or
hardship get in her way of graduating from college. When separated from
her family and placed in foster care, she remained focused on her
classes. In high school, she maintained a 4.22 GPA and took four AP
classes, even while working as a waitress 15-20 hours a week. "Dulce
has a fiery passion to strive for excellence that none can teach," says
her Mathematics instructor. She will start classes at Cal Poly San Luis
Obispo in the fall, where she intends to major in Mechanical
Christian Being American means believing in
your dreams, believing in the liberty and justice that this country
stands for. I do not desire to be famous, powerful, or wealthy. All I
yearn for is an opportunity to give back to this country that has given
me so much.
We're certain that Christian will contribute
enormously to this country. After all, he's already accomplished so
much. In addition to receiving numerous academic awards in math and
science, Christian has been an outstanding athlete. He's won the
national championship in Tae Kwon Do, and served as captain of his high
school's varsity soccer team for three years in a row. Christian's also
coached, counseled, and tutored inner-city kids, and cleaned and
constructed houses affected by Hurricane Katrina. Last summer, he
attended the prestigious Stanford Medical Youth Science Program, which
included an in-depth research project, a 5-week hospital internship,
and extensive instruction in the Biological Sciences. Christian's the
first of his 156 cousins to even apply to college. "Getting accepted
into UCLA was a dream come true for me and my family," he says.
Agustin Being part of a minority group and coming from
an historically challenged background can be one of the most difficult
things a student can face. However, being a minority, historically
challenged and undocumented is even more difficult. Many students'
dreams come to an end when they realize that their parents can't afford
to pay for college and the government refuses to help.
external challenges can force Agustin to give up on his dreams. In high
school, he graduated in the top 10% of his class, received the
Outstanding Student of the Year Award, and was president of the Young
Latino Leaders club. He also worked up to 30 hours per week to
contribute financially to his family. Agustin just finished his third
year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he's majoring in Civil
Engineering and involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional
Engineers (SHPE). He also tutors immigrant students at Laguna Middle
School. He says, "I believe I can make an impact on their lives so that
one day they too will pursue a higher education."
Tsatsral Since my sophomore year in high school until
today, my schedule has always been a combination of school and work;
never one without the other. Sometimes I wonder, what would it be like
if I didn't have to work? Would I get a 4.0? Would it be possible? I
don't know, but I believe that hard work pays off in the end.
is no stranger to hard work. At 14 years old, she immigrated to the
United States speaking no English whatsoever. She was the only
Mongolian student at Mandela High School, and remembers having no one
to talk to initially. Nonetheless Tsatsral graduated from high school
as valedictorian with a 4.17 GPA. Now entering her senior year at UC
Berkeley, she pays for tuition by working 16 hours a week as a
waitress. She receives no support from her family. "I don’t feel bad or
sorry for myself," Tsatsral says. "I enjoy every second of my time
here. I love studying Architecture. I love staying up all night making
models and drawings."
Manuel It all started with a Biology class that I took
at Contra Costa College, taught by Professor Tarp. His enthusiasm
allowed me to see his passion for Biology, and helped me realize that I
had that same passion too. It was in one of his classes that I fell in
love with Neurobiology. There was something about those synapses that
made me crave knowing more about the brain and neurology.
While Manuel has always excelled academically, it was at community
college that he found his academic calling: Neurobiology. Manuel
immigrated to the United States from El Salvador when he was 14 years
old. He entered high school not "speaking a drop of English" and
graduated with an exceptional 4.14 GPA. To save money, Manuel attended
Contra Costa College, where he met Professor Tarp and developed his
passion for Neurobiology. He earned a 3.92 GPA in his first three years
of college, and recently gained admission to UC Berkeley, where he will
be transferring this fall. In addition to his studies, Manuel works 20
hours per week at a retirement home. His time spent working with
elderly people has furthered his interest in Neurobiology and
solidified his goal to one day become a neurosurgeon.