Meet our 2018 scholarship winners!

Every year, we’re honored to award six scholarships to a group of fantastic students who come from all over the world. And this year, we’re thrilled that some of these young folks also earned other scholarships—how amazing is that?—which made it possible for us to help even more students! We couldn’t be happier and prouder to introduce you to this group who will surely shine bright in college. Congratulations!

Yancy Cruz, City Arts & Lectures Scholarship
Mission High School
Yancy’s hunger for knowledge has driven her high level of achievement, even through times of hardship. Her U.S. History Honors teacher writes, “I have been teaching in the San Francisco Unified School District for the past thirty years; in that time, I have taught literally thousands of students, and I would rank Yancy in the top 1% of those students. She has overcome difficult odds and stands on the brink of a successful college career.” Yancy says that during personal and academic hardships, she channeled negative feelings into hard work to improve her English skills and achieve academically. She writes, “I turned my frustration and sorrow into a determination to get the best grades I could, to make my dad proud of me… My dad was an inspiration for me to stay focused on my education, and my mom is always giving me advice to keep going forward and be strong each time that I have any kind of obstacle. Something that I have learned from this is to not let anything take me away from my education.”


Daniela Catubig, 826 Valencia Scholarship
Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory
Daniela understands that attitude can go a long way when it comes to overcoming challenges. Growing up, she didn’t like writing and considered English one of her least favorite classes. But after interning at 826 Valencia’s Exploring Words Summer Camp and seeing the ownership and excitement younger students had for their superhero and soccer stories, she said “I realized through writing I could express my true self . . . . The way they cared for these stories made me realize that writing is fun if you relate to the subject and allow yourself to be immersed in it.” She took this to heart and found it much easier to write her timed essays for her AP English Language class as well as her college application essays when she had a relaxed attitude. Her experience not only improved her own relationship with writing but also inspired her future plans—“to start a nonprofit for young, under-resourced students and provide them with the moral support they need to succeed in school and beyond.”


Edward Gongora, Tom Savignano Scholarship
Mission High School
Edward is creative, curious, and engaged. His U.S. History Honors teacher writes that, in a very challenging course, “Edward jumped to this challenge with enthusiasm and purpose. His work was thoughtful and serious; he was always—I mean always—on-task and engaged with the material.” He constantly pushes himself to engage more deeply and develop his skills and confidence as a student, a writer, and a tutor or mentor to other students. On the power of writing, Edward has this to say: “I’m just an 18-year-old student in the Mission District of San Francisco, but I can write about anything, anywhere, anytime. Writing stays with you beyond just school. It’s a life skill and source of enjoyment that’s permanent.”


Annie Huang, Tom Savignano Scholarship
Galileo Academy of Science and Technology
Annie is proactive and motivated in pursuing her education and goals. Her educational advisor says of her, “[Annie] is also very proactive in bettering herself, academically and personally…[Annie] is also self-aware of the various aspects of her life, being able to apply her academic knowledge and life experiences when possible.” Annie is committed to finding new ways to improve, setting goals around them, and passionately pursuing those goals. For instance, she is very passionate about biological sciences, which has led her to join her high school’s biotechnology pathway and to set her sights on majoring in kinesiology in college. Of some of her most recent personal and academic goals, Annie writes, “By being devoted to my goals, I’ve expanded my personal circle and realized that hard work is definitely rewarding because everything becomes truly meaningful.”


Jenny Kuang, City Arts & Lectures Scholarship
Mission High School
Jenny is committed to learning, and to actively pursuing her education. She grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia with Chinese immigrant parents who did not speak Spanish, leaving her to figure out her education mainly on her own. Now, she is the only person in her family to come to the U.S. and will also be the first one to attend college. Since arriving in San Francisco, she has learned English from the ground up, and been engaged and successful in her academics. Her history teacher writes, “Instead of accepting my instruction as fact, she demanded to understand the significance and the relevance of what we were learning. Jenny demonstrated that she was learning for knowledge, not for a grade. She asked insightful questions that showed her understanding of the nuances of history and the thematic connections across space and time.” She is certainly interested in finding connections between multiple topics and disciplines. For example, she sees her love of writing, her excellent penmanship, and her eye for design as highly related, and relevant to her future. Jenny writes, “I see my writing as a valuable tool in Graphic Design. The visual style of writing adds value to the meaning of the words. Good writing and editing in graphic design are like ice cream on a hot day. They complement each other.”


Kenan Mirou, Sydney Goldstein Scholarship
Mission High School
Kenan is steadfast and proud of his identity as a Syrian refugee. Since he and his family fled the country in 2012 and found a new home in San Francisco, he has consistently educated his new community members about Syria by sharing his story. During multicultural assemblies at Mission High School, he has discussed with his peers issues like Islamophobia, racial profiling in America, and the civil war in Syria. And disappointed in the lack of Arabic courses available at his school, Kenan organized a movement to show up to school board meetings to demand such a class—the first version of which is now offered at Mission High School. In 2018, Kenan also delivered a moving speech about Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Kenan writes, “I want to give back to my people and recreate the Syria I know and love.”


Mailyn Rosales, Taylor Renfrew Ingham Memorial Scholarship
Mission High School
Mailyn’s capacity for hard work and dedication to pursuing her education is inspiring. Originally from rural Guatemala, Mailyn writes, “When I was in Guatemala, I was not able to dream beyond middle school because school was too expensive and I lived too far from the city. Even for elementary school, I had to struggle to get a good education.” Since moving to the United States, Mailyn has worked tirelessly to pursue her dreams, including working 25 hours a week while being a full-time student. Despite her many responsibilities, Mailyn continued to take on extra responsibilities. In addition to her regular coursework, she took on additional assignments analyzing contemporary articles about Latin America. She also tutors and mentors new immigrant students as they start at Mission High School. Her teacher writes, “Mailyn has consistently shown that she is eager to take risks with her learning, is unafraid to work toward her goals, and is a willing collaborator in all situations.”


Martina Sarceno, 826 Valencia Scholarship
Mission High School
Martina is known for bringing optimism, kindness, and joy to all that she does—and she does a lot! Whether she is maintaining high grades, tutoring and mentoring newcomer students at her high school as well as elementary students at 826 Valencia, managing her family’s restaurant, babysitting, dancing, or raising money for scholarship funds for DREAMers, she always has a smile on her face. Her high school principal writes that Martina is “quite literally a light of joy here at Mission High School …a school leader, a beloved member of our community, and one of the most joyful people I have ever known.” Martina’s high level of involvement comes after moving to San Francisco from Guatemala in eighth grade, at which point she needed to learn English and transition from living with her grandmother to living with her parents. Martina wrote in her personal statement that “Both of these obstacles taught me that nothing comes easy, but over time we learn to adapt and in the end, it makes us stronger. When I get into college, I know my grandmother will be proud of me, and it will make all the barriers that I have overcome worthwhile.”


Zakaria Kassim, Art Berliner and Marian Lever Scholarship
Mission High School
Zakaria is determined to make a positive change in his home country, Yemen. He moved to San Francisco with his father at age 14, leaving his mother and eight siblings in Taiz with the heartbreaking fear that he might never see them again. Zakaria’s mentor writes, “Throughout my time with Zak, I’ve seen his hunger grow for bigger and more engaging challenges. During the last three years, I’ve also watched Zak become even more determined to be the first in his family to go to college, and to build the skills that he can take home to Yemen to make his country better.” Zakaria writes of his desire to make change in Yemen, “I want Yemeni kids to grow up in a better [situation] than I did, and my dream is for Yemeni youth to be as empowered as the people I have met in America to lead Yemen to a positive, war-free future. Bravery has meant a lot of different things to me throughout my life, but now, it means not giving up on my dream to make my home country a better place and to challenge myself to stand up and fight the struggles that we’re facing.”