826 community packs the house to celebrate our 2014 scholars

On August 12, members of the 826 Valencia community came together to eat, laugh, and most importantly celebrate the eight outstanding recipients of the 2014 826 Valencia college scholarships. Hosted just down the street by the wonderful folks at The Chapel and sponsored by Books Inc, it was our largest scholarship ceremony to date with past and present scholars, families, mentors, teachers, donors, board members, and staff in attendance.

Decked out in star-spangled style, the Chapel’s music venue was packed to the brim with supporters for the college-bound scholars. The scholarship committee—made up of 826 staff and community members—moved many of us to tears with thoughtful and inspiring speeches honoring each scholar. Then, former scholars brought down the house in a Whose Line Is It Anyway-style improv session where they shared stories of what they’ve been up to in their careers, hosted by our first scholarship winner in 2002, Chinaka Hodge. The line-up of former scholars passed on college survival tips to the 2014 winners.

Many of our scholarship winners have been involved in 826 Valencia programs, and all have impressed us with their creative voices, vivacity, scholarly potential, and commitment to better their communities. We are in awe of their ability to manage their lives and activities and to excel as students and writers.

And now (drumroll please) we present the 2014 scholarship winners (with beautiful portraits donated by the talented Russell at Russ Levy Photography).


Dayra Banales, 2014 ScholarDayra A. Banales

Dayra is a strong role model, an empowered artist, and a curious and enthusiastic learner. She has served as an art mentor at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, volunteered at the Mission Boys & Girls club, and also helped her mother with deliveries, translation, and marketing for her catering business. A state finalist in the 2013 National American Miss California Teen Pageant, Dayra graduated from Galileo High in San Francisco, and hopes to pursue a career in art therapy.

Jaime Velis Sanchez, 2014 ScholarJaime Alfredo Velis Sanchez

Jaime was engaged in myriad activities at San Francisco International High School where he was the vice-president of the International Committee, a member of the Eco Art Club, and ran cross-country. He also completed internships at SF Build and with the UCSF Science and Health Education Project, where he worked on graduate-level research, and was a contributor and editor for 826 Valencia’s 2013 Young Authors’ Book Project, The Enter Question. Jaime came to the US from El Salvador and plans to become a pediatrician.

Ammar Lee-Fowler, 2014 ScholarAmmar Lee-Fowler

Ammar is a tenacious honor roll student, competitive swimmer, and passionate dancer with a vision to become, in her words, a “true healing artist.” She is a principal dancer at Jikelele Dance Theater, and considers her passion for dance integral to leading a healthy life. Ammar is an advocate of LGBT rights, and wrote an anti-bullying article to voice her views. She plans to one day serve as a pediatric nurse. Ammar is a graduate of Oakland Technical High and will attend University of Central Arkansas this fall.

Daisy Fang, 2014 ScholarYa Xue (Daisy) Fang

A graduate of Balboa High and an active member of her local and world community, Daisy is a peer tutor, an intern at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, and an officer on her high school Dragon boat team. She was the leader of the buildOn chapter at her high school for four years, helping to organize the construction of schools in developing countries, and traveling to Haiti to help build a school there. Her experiences have equipped Daisy with wisdom, compassion, and sensitivity when relating to situations different from her own.

Wanyi Chen, 2014 ScholarWanyi Chen

Emigrating from China only a few years ago, Wanyi has battled the language barrier with dedication, patience, and success. At Mission High School, she was a varsity tennis player, the Vice President of the multicultural club, and a member of the Red Cross and Recycle clubs. She is passionate about representing women in science and hopes to pursue advanced studies in the sciences.

Giorgia Peckman, 2014 ScholarGiorgia Sage Peckman

Giorgia, a venerable 826 alumna, has attended 826 Valencia writing workshops since she was six years old and carried the 826 ethos to her academic life, leading a creative writing workshop when she was in middle school. Her enthusiasm runs deep for all her activities, which include violin and ceramics, but her two deepest passions are for writing and Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art self-defense form. In her own words, “writing acts as a lens, while Capoeira acts as an anchor.” Giorgia is a graduate of Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco.

Josseline Juarez, 2014 ScholarJosseline Edith Juárez

Josseline immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. She attended San Francisco International High School, where she was a member of the EcoClub, a member and director of the Peace Club, and a Youth Outreach Worker with the Wellness Department. She also completed two internships and participated in a variety of athletics including volleyball, wrestling, soccer, and cheerleading, all while excelling at her studies. A gifted writer, Josseline was published in 826 Valencia’s Young Authors’ Book Project The Enter Question. She aspires to be a role model for her friends and family and plans one day to become a doctor. Josseline will be the first in her family to attend college.

Yesika Menjivar Cruz, 2014 Scholar

Yesika Beatriz Menjivar Cruz

Yesika is a committed, perseverant, and conscientious student applauded by her teachers for her academic talent. In addition to her studies at San Francisco International High School, she served as a peer tutor, the soccer team captain, and singer, and was an author and member of the editorial board for The Enter Question. Yesika works six days per week at an auto repair shop, and volunteers at Causa Justa. She wants to become a lawyer to advocate for causes she believes in and to help those who need legal representation.

We will be posting guidelines for the 2015 Scholarship Program in January 2015. Please check back then for more details. For information about 826 Valencia’s scholarship program, please contact Lauren Hall at lauren@826valencia.org.