University of San Francisco
Sandra was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Lowell HS. Her family is from Nicaragua. She is the youngest of five children and a first generation college student. Sandra sometimes had to choose between doing her homework and caring for her mother. For over 20 years, Sandra has worked with children as a coach, PE teacher, preschool assistant director and a para educator. The past 8 years at Monroe ES, she has been an integral part of the community and goes above and beyond her role to meet the needs of all students. She will receive her teaching credential and Masters in Education in 2021.
I owe my kind heart, drive and hustle to my mom. My mother battled diabetes for 13 years and passed away in 2004. Since that time, I met my wife and we have a beautiful and powerful four year old; they are both my life and why I strive to continue my education. Working as a para educator has empowered me to pursue my own dreams because I see myself in my students. I know too well their unwavering willingness to push forward.
Thurgood Marshall High School
Latino Club; Leadership; Cashier job. Erika was born in El Salvador and
arrived about 3 years ago with her 3 month old son. At the border, her
son was taken for 3 weeks. Finally they were sent here to an aunt. Erika
has a strong work ethic and the ability to work well on her own or with
others. She is mature beyond her years and is a proud immigrant, school
leader, and mother. In her school project, she shares tips with
newcomers for navigating life in high school, including how to stay
organized, ask for help, show respect and get involved.
“Since I arrived,
I’ve worked to support my son, my aunt, and my family in El
Salvador. I dream of being a doctor that serves our community. My
inspiration is my son and my family. My days are long, but I know it
will be worth it in the end.”
Hilltop High School
Youth Outreach Worker; Daycare center volunteer; Greatest of all Time
entrepreneurship participant. Isabel attended Las Americas CDC, D
Webster ES, & KIPP. She has a great eagerness to learn and take full
advantage of any educational opportunity. She consistently grows in her
academic skills and social emotional health. Isabel is a critical thinker
and is actively engaged in extracurricular activities. Isabel is a leader
who is always ready to help others. She open, considerate and a patient
“I am a teen mom with an 11 month old son, named Andy.
He is the reason I push myself in everything no matter what! Being
a student mom makes me stronger. I’m a very focused and
determined person. Immigrating to the US was not easy…I am
someone that never gives up.”
Diana Avila Coronado
Leadership High School
Dancer, Bolivia Corazón de América; Volunteer, Boys & Girls Club;
College Track. Diana attended Sanchez ES, Hoover MS, & Everett MS.
From an early age, she had to learn that struggling is a part of her life, but
she works hard, is persistent, and sheds tears in order to become wiser and
help others across the same path. Diana is strong, sensitive, has high
expectations, and an astonishing level of maturity. She is fun and loves to
“Volunteering has shown me to have compassion for those who
have similar disadvantages as me. I know I’ll be able to commit to a
career that gives back to my community. I want to become an educator
that encourages students’ critical thinking…that challenges them in a
way that reduces pressure but prepares them for the world.”
Liberal Arts, Social Science, Education
Lincoln High School
Peer Resources Mentor, After school job to help mom. Alexis’ intelligence,
wit, and bilingualism makes him sparkle. In his class, Critical Thinking & Social Change, he is able to analyze and synthesize issues with his life
experiences. He also uses his special abilities to help others on campus. His
qualities will carry him though in the future, and with the unexpected death of his father.
“I am a person who has overcome many obstacles, but none
are as challenging as the one I am facing right now. My dad’s absence
and his unconditional love has left a vacancy in me. I’m still trying to
rise above. I hope that I’ll have a good job to get our of our studio
apartment and support my mom so she doesn’t have to work 10 hour
shifts. Although I am in a place of darkness, the future I see is full of
Virginia Maricielo Lopez Perez
SF International HS
Leader Concilio de Jóvenes; Group member, PODER SF; Group member,
Latinas Unidas; Youth Advisory Board, Instituto Familiar de la Raza.
Virginia emigrated in 2015 from Guatemala and was reunited with her
parents living here. Her hard working parents encourage her dream to
go to college. While attending school, she has been taking care of
household responsibilities due to her mother’s illness. Virginia is
diligent, humble, has great strength in the midst of difficulties and
possesses natural leadership abilities.
“My dream is to go to college to
help people in my community and make all the people that I love
feel proud of me. When you help, you feel good with yourself
because you know that you are doing something to create justice.”
Medicine and Sociology
Stephanie Nicole Garcia Alvarez
Mission High School
Debate member, Model United Nations; Presenter, Sexual Harassment
Education; Peer Mediator, Conflict Management. Stephanie attended LR
Flynn ES & J Lick MS. Born in jail, parents being deported after her birth,and being raised by her hard working grandmother in public housing in the Mission, Stephanie demonstrates perseverance, resilience and
character. Besides attending school, she works to help ends meet and
dreams of what she’ll be able to do with a college education. She’ll be
the first in her family to graduate from high school and attend college.
“The choices my parents made leading up to and following my
birth have shaped the expectations people, from my family to
society as a whole, have of me. In my family, academic achievement
is almost an afterthought…failure is expected and success
unacknowledged. I want to break these negative expectations…by
pushing myself to take advantage of opportunities that will
support me in this process.”
Downtown High School
Iglesia, Maestro de múscia; Prep cook, Silver Park Soccer. Oscar was born
in El Salvador & attended MEC, Fairmount ES, J. Lick MS, Balboa HS, & Mission HS. He was often a troubled student. Outdoor education and
music programs helped him turn his life around. In group work settings,
Oscar is excepcional. He is a natural leader.
“Como estudiante indocumentado tuve y tengo muchos obstáculos en la vida. Yo supe que no tenía las mismas oportunidades como otros desde una temprana edad. He sobrepasado muchos retos. Me ayudaron
actividades que le daban más importancia a mi bienestar. Si yo
obtengo esta beca tendría ayuda financiera, esto me brinda aún
más cerca de mis sueños porque sabré que tengo ayuda, apoyo
para seguir adelante, tendré en mi mente que no puedo defraudar
a nadie menos a mi mismo.”
Burton High School
Student Leader, La Raza Club; Captain, Soccer Team; Volunteer, Food
Bank. Nancy attended ER Taylor ES & Dr. ML King MS. Nancy carries
with her a thirst for knowledge and growth, from scientific theories and
concepts to social justice. She does not simply see things as they exist;
she sees them for what they could be. Nancy is particularly passionate
about social justice including equity in education and environmental
justice. The daughter of hard working Mexican parents searching for a
better future, Nancy sees herself as a role model and believes that
preparing herself with a college education will allow her to help others.
“I have volunteered feeding the homeless in the Tenderloin. This is
an example of promoting social justice because it’s important to
help people in need.”
June Jordan High School
Young Peoples Project tutor; La Raza Chair: Urban Sprouts intern. Marisol
attended SF Community K-8. She is resilient and is determined to
succeed despite obstacles. When challenges pilled up during high
school, she was able to bounce back and continue working towards her
goals. Marisol is a natural leader and takes initiative to challenge herself,
her peers, and the adults around her to fight for social justice. She has
advanced social skills and builds relationships across differences.
“I’ve gotten the attention and support I need academically and
personally. School has taught me the importance of community. My
goal is to educate other people to question the norms of society
and become involved with social justice. The greatest resistance is
Gender & Women’s Studies
Jannelly Hernandez Umanzor
Lincoln High School
CUESA Translator; TA, Spanish Class; Truth is our Peace, Volunteer.
Jannelly attended LR Flynn & Aptos MS. She has developed a strong
sense of inner direction and a growth mindset. She is an exceptional
student because of her enthusiasm, her passion for learning and her
desire to connect with the world.
“I want to be an example to society
and demonstrate that a disabled, minority female has the
persistence and intelligence to become a successful entrepreneur
with an open mind and a loving heart. When I was a year old, the
doctors told my mother that I had cerebral palsy. It has been
difficult for me to write and complete work at the same pace as
others, but I can write, read, learn and study. I want to develop
apps that can make life easier for other people, with and without
Galileo High School
Boston University Summer Challenge Program; Heart in Motion volunteer;
Sales job. Marcela attended Tenderloin ES and Roosevelt MS. From an
early age and from both parents, she has been deeply impressed about
the value of education. Marcela has a bold, passionate side that was
evident when she gave her classroom president candidate speech,
which was validated when students voted her the winner. She has the
academic skills, potential, drive an motivation to be successful and
“I will apply my learning to improve early education and
learning development for children. I would love to work with
professionals to research how we can equip schools to teach
students about racial injustice and prepare them to address these
issues in the real world.”
Sociology and Education
Leydi Robero Chavez
Mission High School
Immigrants Rising; Enterprise for Youth; Distributes blankets to homeless.
Leydi attended J Lick MS. She grew up in El Salvador missing her father
who had come to the US just before she was born. Her grandfather felt
like her real father. He stressed the importance of education. When she
arrived here she was placed in 8th grade and struggled with English, but
she is grounded in a way that few teenagers are, and has a deep sense of
dedication and purpose. Leydi is an incredible student and a wonderful
person. Her demeanor is always positive, her focus excellent, and her
“Learning English was difficult at first but working
hard helped me. I hope to achieve my goals so that I can help my
community. I also want to be a good role model to my little sister.”
Kenia Lissete Xicum Montiel
Balboa High School
415 Unidos for Freedom Founder; Excelsior Family Connections,
Volunteer; Garden at Balboa. Kenia attended Sanchez ES and middle
school in Mexico where she was born. She grew up living with her two
single parents, her mom in Mexico and her dad here. Kenia is organized,
resilient, persevering, and passionate about education and helping
others. She thrives in the face of challenge through her own
“I will be the first in my family to go to college. I
want to make my parents proud, as I am very thankful for their
sacrifices. They are my inspiration. I co-founded a student group to
support immigrant students by offering school help and college
planning. Having a supportive community can help immigrant
youth like myself find the confidence to invest in their education.”
Biology, Chicano Studies
J O’Connell High School
JVS Intern; Sales job; Mission Graduates. Kimberly is part of the
Entrepreneurship & Culinary Arts Lab at school and works to help
support her family. She is resilient and has a big heart. Kimberly is an
intellectually curious, ambitious young woman, committed to becoming
the first in her family to attend college. She commutes every day from
Oakland to attend school, but she is determined.
immigrated from El Salvador. Growing up, I had no father figure in
my life. My mom would struggle financially, but she did everything
possible to raise three kids on her own. I want to make college a
reality. I can help out my community by becoming a nurse and
helping out people who struggle with illness.”
Medicine, Ethnic Studies, Criminology
Karen Albarran Paz
Lowell High School
Seeds ODC Dance Member; La Raza Club; United to Save the Mission.
Karen was born in Mexico and attended Alvarado & KIPP. She is self-
directed, organized, highly academic, as well as being a creative thinker
and group leader with a tremendous heart and genuine care for her
classmates. She is proud of her culture and faces challenges with her
head held high. She stays connected with her Latinx community, which
is small at Lowell.
“I’ve faced significant challenges in my life. Our
situation in Mexico was dangerous. The journey of gaining status
here hasn’t been easy. I also faced difficulties with peers because
they would make jokes a out my immigration status. I was
determined to face them with pride of being an immigrant.
Through the many challenges I’ve faced at school and in my
personal live, I’ve overcome!”
Women’s Panel, Youth Speaks Poets, 4.0 Honor Role, Martial Arts, Creative Writer Contest.
She was born in Mexico, attended J Serra & Lick. Two years ago she was living in a car with her mother because they lost their house. Work around that and other struggles in the family brought out the strong woman that was getting buried under all the pain. Her goal is to study psychology.
“I want to learn where human actions come from and combine social work with therapy…specifically with immigrant families.”
Sociology, Psychology, Ethnic Studies
Student of the month, Street Soccer.
She attended Marshall, Everett, Marina & Galileo. Coming here with her family from Yucatan, walking across the desert and suffering from hunger, accustomed Lizet to struggle and practice determination. Her family has lived with little money and poor housing. Now, with her partner, it’s hard to make ends meet.
“Being a teen mom, I learned how to be responsible, independent, and how to communicate. These experiences have made me a better student who really wants to do something to help other people and to give back what people have given me.”
Student of Yr., Mock Trial Best, Volunteer, Salesforce Intern, Chick Tech.
She attended Chavez & Giannini. Maria suffered discouragement from hearing she would not be able to go to college because of her citizenship status, but the Deferred Action for Childhood changed her habits, and she worked tirelessly to redirect her school work, even one summer in COSMOS at UC Irvine learning computer skills.
“I have the power to make my dreams a reality and be able to help others in my community.”
Thurgood Marshall HS
Latinos United, Soccer.
He was born in El Salvador and arrived 3 years ago to reunite with his family that he had not seen for 12 years. In addition to working hard in school, he’s had to work long hours at night with his parents. He enjoys helping other newcomers feel comfortable and welcomed, offering himself as a resource. Ronaldo is committed to defeating the cycle of poverty.
“We all should have the opportunity to succeed in life. Even though I have experienced difficulties, I will never give up overcoming hard times.”
Mission High School
CORO Youth Fellow, Internships: Chinatown Development Center, Matter of Trust, Peer Mentoring, Volunteering and Translator.
She was born in Mexico and attended Chavez and H Mann. At seven, Yinia came to the US with her mom and siblings. The transition demanded strength and fight. She has worked two jobs while at school to help her family. She has a great deal of responsibility at home and has still made her education a success, including working well with other students.
“My goal is to open the path for the future generations of my family and community to go to college.”
Child Development, Elementary Teacher