Four Pleasanton high school seniors have been selected as recipients of the 2017 Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarship.
Amador Valley High School students Abbie Cooper and Nicole Zhang, along with Foothill High's Kathryn Ann Lee and Rachel Mundaden, were picked from 26 applicants by the Community of Character Collaborative.
The scholarship was created to honor the memory of Juanita Haugen, former school board president and founder of the collaborative who died of cancer in 2007.
Applicants were required to explain how their actions have reflected any or all of the six characteristics adopted by PUSD, the city of Pleasanton and other local entities -- honesty, compassion, integrity, responsibility, respect and self-discipline.
Amador senior Abbie Cooper, daughter of Mitchell and Corri Cooper, says her parents taught her the values of selflessness, thoughtfulness and hard work.
Born with a club foot, dance lessons served as a way Cooper could improve her physical condition as well as learn the value of self-confidence and hard work.
"These challenges taught her a strong work ethic and allowed her to empathize with others who face their own personal challenges," a statement from the collaborative reads.
Cooper has served as an Outdoor Education camp counselor and senior class vice president, planning events for Amador such as the senior picnic and Senior Ball.
She has volunteered at Open Heart Kitchen, organized volunteers for Rooms of Hope, which raises money for terminally ill children, and served as captain of a dance team that raised over $25,000 for Dancers Against Cancer. Cooper has also been involved in Amador's leadership class and Girl UP Club, which focuses on protecting rights of women.
Fellow classmate Nicole Zhang, daughter of Jialing Sun and Gary Zhang, plays soccer for Amador and the Pleasanton RAGE.
After a seventh-grade classmate fell on the track and was hurt, Zhang organized events to raise $30,000 for a new track.
She is the co-founder and president of the Student Inter-Schools Action Council, a student board member for the school board, chairperson of the school site council, and PUSD student representative on the Local Control and Accountability Committee.
Zhang also co-founded the Wheelchair Ambassador program, working with the Wheelchair Foundation to organize wheelchair basketball games and fundraisers.
A piano player, she has also organized musical performances for nursing home patients and donated hair to children with medical hair loss.
Kathryn Ann Lee, daughter of Frank and Mary Lee, is a senior at Foothill High. In sixth grade she began volunteering at the Taylor Family Foundation, accepting larger roles as she got older including organizing the training for over 200 volunteers for a fundraiser.
"She learned compassion through working with these children, who lived each day with severe disabilities and health conditions," the collaborative stated.
Lee has also volunteered at a number of events for Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, Foster a Dream and other organizations. She plays soccer for Foothill's varsity team and the Pleasanton RAGE.
Rachel Mundaden, daughter of Mary and John Mundaden, has volunteered at soup kitchens and founded an annual backpack and school supply drive for needy families.
Mundaden also founded the Girls Who Code club at Foothill to empower girls interested in the STEM field and has taught coding at the Donlon Elementary Kids Club and Chinatown YMCA in San Francisco.
She received the Girl Scout Gold Award by conducting an Earth Day event at Donlon, where 300 students learned about climate change, recycling and other environmental issues.
Mundaden is the youth representative on the city of Pleasanton's energy and environment committee, plays lacrosse for Foothill's varsity team and is first chair viola in the school orchestra.
A Village High senior will also be announced as a scholarship winner at the school's commencement ceremony.
Scholarship recipients will be honored at the collaborative's annual luncheon in May.
For more information on the Community of Character Collaborative, including how to donate, visit their website.