Scholarships, awards honor 87 area student Champions of Diversity

The 13th annual Champions of Diversity Awards ceremony held Dec. 5, 2012, honored 87 area high school students for their contributions to diversity in their schools and communities.

Some 525 community residents watched as educational institutions, local businesses and community organizations awarded $208,366 in scholarships to 59 seniors who have shown exemplary service in leadership, community service, and in academic and educational activities. Public Information Director Arden Ainley said the scholarship awards represented an all-time high for the growing program.

The December presentation was sponsored by Skagit Valley College’s Multicultural Student Services and held at McIntyre Hall on the college’s Mount Vernon Campus.

Diversity nominees in grades 10 and 11 received a special award from the North Cascades Institute in Sedro-Woolley. Each student can participate in a North Cascades Wild program, where they can spend part of the coming summer canoeing, hiking and completing service projects in North Cascades National Park and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Skagit Valley College, The Evergreen State College, University of Washington-Bothell, University of Washington- Seattle, University of Washington-Tacoma, Washington State University, and Western Washington University honored high school students from Skagit and Island counties.

The Champions of Diversity’s Award Ceremony is airing on Comcast channels and can be viewed on TV10 at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., or on TV26 at 9:30 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Viewers can find viewing schedules for both channels at the city of Mount Vernon’s website,

Recipients of 35 Skagit Valley College scholarships are listed today. Recipients of other college scholarships will be published next Sunday. Award recipients will be published later this month.

High schools indicated are Anacortes High School - AHS, Burlington-Edison High School - BEHS, Burlington-Edison North High School - BENHS, La Conner High School - LCHS, Mount Vernon High School - MVHS, Oak Harbor High School - OHHS, Sedro-Woolley High School - SWHS.

Skagit Valley College

Each of 23 students received a $1,500 award to attend Skagit Valley College:

Sarah Lindsay, AHS; Guadalupe Ayala, Magdalena Cerrillo and Jesus Antonio Rodríguez-Pineda, BEHS; Olivia Hernández, BENHS; Irma Ceja and Amanda Washington, LCHS; Kimberly Carrillo, Virginia Conejo-Castro, Guillermo Mogollan, Gloria Nuñez and Jacob Paz-Perez, Rosalynda Reyes, Azucena Rodríguez, Beltran Sandre-Gomez, Vanessa Serrano and Jasmine Vick, all MVHS; Cierra Girdy, Dalia Reyes, Ashlie Roedell, Gustavo Sanchez, René Morales Sanchez and Brian Warbus, SWHS.

Sarah Lindsay was born deaf, yet has been very successful, serving as a student cadet with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, starting the Sign Club for deaf students, working as a martial arts instructor and camp counselor. Sarah hopes to become an educator for the deaf.

Guadalupe Ayala is an AVID college-readiness student and active in Latinos in Action, Earth Club and Key Club. Gudadalupe has volunteered for Allen Elementary School, food banks, Mount Vernon Trail Builders, Skagit Harvest Festival and the Down syndrome Buddy Walk. She plans to study nursing at SVC.

Magdalena Cerrillo is a member of Latinos in Action, tutors students, interprets for families, speaks at SVC Latino Education Conferences and has become a role model for other students in general. (Her photo was not available.)

Jesus Antonio Rodríguez-Pineda is involved in Latinos in Action, is a mentor and translator, and volunteers at food drives and the Giving Tree Program. He plans to to attend SVC before transferring to Western Washington University.

Olivia Hernández is BENHS’s first four-year student to graduate on time. She balances being a mom, a Running Start student and a full-time employee while still making time to volunteer at blood drives, food drives and the Adopt a Child program.

Irma Ceja has persevered in the face of great emotional and economic hardship. She participates in ASB leadership activities and the Calling All Colors Club, all while attending the NW Career and Technical Academy to earn credits toward a dental assistant certificate.

Amanda Washington helped start a successful Calling All Colors group at her school. As Miss Swinomish, she represents her tribe, helps at ceremonies and has visited more than 40 different tribes statewide. She plans to major in nursing.

Kimberly Carrillo uses her bilingual skills to mentor migrant children, volunteers through B.E.C.K. and has been involved in migrant/bilingual family events. She has also served the community through a partnership with Sea Mar and Between Friends. Kimberly would like to study nursing or allied health.

Virginia Conejo-Castro takes several Advanced Placement and honors classes while serving as a LEAP ambassador, LINK leader and FCCLA member. She has also volunteered to care for children at Strengthening Families. Virginia plans to study law.

Guillermo Mogollan has worked hard to overcome difficult personal challenges. He takes honors and AP classes while serving as president of LEAP Club and as a member of WFC Rangers, Honors in Science and Young Democrats. He hopes to study law and advocate for the marginalized.

Gloria Nuñez has faced many challenges because of her learning disabilities, yet has successfully met all the high school graduation requirements while assisting teachers and students with translating. Gloria will be the first of her family to graduate from high school. Her dream job is to work in the culinary arts. (Her photo was not available.)

Jacob Paz-Perez volunteers at his church and is a leader at home. He has overcome language barriers and learning disabilities to successfully stay in school and continue on to college. He hopes to study criminal justice.

Rosalynda Reyes has contributed more than 100 hours of community service at migrant camps, for the Children of the Valley tutoring program and North Cascades Wild, where she refurbished campgrounds and cleared trails. She has played softball since freshman year and plans to study human services at SVC.

Azucena Rodríguez has been involved in LEAP and has attended numerous leadership camps and conferences. She volunteers at Children of the Valley and will be the first member of her family to attend college.

Beltran Sandre-Gomez is an FCCLA member and former AVID member who has overcome a learning disability to achieve success in school. Beltran is intrigued by the car and electrical industries and he would like to run his own business.

Vanessa Serrano is trilingual and volunteers at Madison Elementary School, works at Mira Vista, and has been active in FCCLA and French Club. She would like to be a veterinarian or a zoologist.

Jasmine Vick has overcome multiple disabilities to successfully complete high school, all the while still finding time to fundraise for charities, volunteer in the school cafeteria, serve as a teacher’s assistant and tutor peers in the classroom. Jasmine would like to become a veterinary assistant.

Cierra Girdy demonstrates leadership through her participation in AVID, DECA, Robotics Club and FFA. She also is the first of her family to attend college. She plans to study criminal justice and become a crime scene investigator.

Dalia Reyes volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club, a local food bank and United General Hospital’s Community Assessment of Neighborhood Stores program.

Ashlie Roedell has volunteered for the American Red Cross, Life Care Center and the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. She was awarded numerous state cheerleading awards, helped coach junior division cheerleading and participated in choir. She plans to study psychology and become a counselor.

Gustavo Sanchez is bilingual and volunteers at his church’s Sunday school, has participated in soccer and wrestling, is a member of AVID and FBLA and cares for his three younger siblings at home.

René Morales Sanchez is trilingual and participated in AVID and ESL until last year. He has faced many personal struggles, including mastering English, but he continues to be successful and finds time to volunteer at Helping Hands Food Bank and with the Washington State Trails Association.

Brian Warbus attended leadership conferences and training at the Teens Against Tobacco Use Washington State Prevention Summit, Thrive Prevention Conferences and Native Wellness Leadership and Cultural Camp. Brian has participated in numerous community educational presentations. He plans to study music and business administration.

Awards ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 went to 12 students who will attend Skagit Valley College: Tanya Alvarado, Cassandra Becerra, Bryan Granados, Rolando Hernández and David Velásquez, all at BEHS; Airam Chavez, BENHS; Isidro Perez-Santoyo and Natasha Robinson, MVHS; Jennifer Landingin and Sheirelyn Yabao, OHHS; Nancy Hans and Edward Lockwood, SWHS.

Tanya Alvarado is involved in AVID, Latinos in Action and mentoring at school. She volunteers at food banks, the Skagit Harvest Festival, the Buddy Walk and with the Mount Vernon Trail Builders. She also participates in Earth Club, Key Club and National Honor Society. Tanya, who would like to be a nurse, will be the first of her family to graduate from college.

Cassandra Becerra is captain of the wrestling team and participates in volleyball and track. She volunteers through her church and community organizations. Cassandra is attending the Northwest Career and Technical Academy to earn a nursing assistant certificate, then plans to continue her nursing education at SVC.

Bryan Granados is bilingual and volunteers for his school, church and a local food bank. He is an AVID student, was chosen to attend a leadership academy sponsored by GEAR UP, and has been a speaker throughout the district’s elementary schools. Bryan will be the second member of his family to attend college.

Rolando Hernández volunteers at Skagit Valley Hospital, also as a mentor and translator and was nominated to be a Student Advisory Council member. He will be the first person in his family to graduate from high school and attend college. Rolando would like to become a nurse.

David Velásquez tutors and mentors younger students through AVID and Latinos in Action, as well as interpreting for staff and parents at his school and fall conferences.

Airam Chavez is fluent in Spanish and interprets for her family. A frequent community contributor, she has organized drives for food, blood donations and teddy bears to comfort children.

Isidro Perez-Santoyo has overcome speech impairments and other disabilities to succesfully graduate high school and attend college. His willingness to risk failure and persevere makes him well respected by his teachers and peers.

Natasha Robinson has volunteered at both her church daycare and The Well, where she served food to homeless families. She was a member of the school cheerleading squad as a junior and is an active member of FCCLA.

Jennifer Landingin is an honor student and a talented musician, tennis player and cheer leader. She is active in Key Club and various leadership programs, participating in food drives, UNICEF fundraising and assistance for migrant workers. Jennifer wants to pursue a career in nursing.

Sheirelyn Yabao has participated in ASB Inter-High, Key Club and Leadership class. She would like to study nursing.

Nancy Hans is trilingual and is working on Spanish as a fourth, despite a learning disability. She has volunteered more than 100 hours of community service through the community center, her church and high school. Nancy participates in Latinos Unidos Club and Sparrow Club, which raises money for terminally ill children.

Edward Lockwood volunteers at United Methodist’s youth club, tutors at ALEKS, and is a strong figure in the Gay Straight Alliance community. He will be the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

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