The Community of Character Collaborative has chosen four high school seniors as recipients of the 2018 Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarship for reflecting compassion, honesty, respect, responsibility, integrity and self-discipline in their lives.
The scholarships were created to honor the memory of Juanita Haugen, founder of the coalition, who died in 2007 due to cancer. Haugen was a former school board president who created the Community of Character in Pleasanton to foster the six traits as a way to improve the community and the world.
This year's scholarships, each for $1,000, are being awarded to the following:
* Ellen Ebbers is a Foothill senior, the daughter of Jenny and Jason Ebbers. Her mother is a teacher in Pleasanton. Her father died when she was 5, a tragedy resulting in many challenges for the family to overcome.
Ellen, a four-year varsity softball player, received All-League honors, and has earned a softball scholarship to Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She also played varsity basketball.
She has been in high school leadership for the past three years and serves as the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and commissioner of Red Cross Blood Drives. She was a counselor at outdoor education for the last three years and also serves as a Team Leader at STRETCH camp every January. She teaches Sunday School at her church and was a Night to Shine Buddy for people with special needs.
"It takes a lot of pride, self-discipline and respect to reach your full potential as an athlete, a student, and as a person," Ellen said. "Through the ups and downs of life, I am slowly but surely learning who I am and who I want to be."
* Zara Fatteh, daughter of Saira and Parvez Fatteh, is a senior at Foothill High. Proud of her heritage as a Pakistani Muslim girl, in the fourth grade she sold bracelets to donate funds to Pakistani flood victims and was the lead singer in a music video to raise awareness about the issue. She is a Girl Scout of 10 years and earned her Gold Award by implementing a special needs program at her mosque.
She currently leads MEDLIFE and UNICEF chapters to assist disadvantaged families throughout the world, and she went on a service trip to Cusco, Peru, to assist at mobile health clinics. She is a delegate of the Foothill Model United Nations program, and is on the "We the People" team.
For the past three years, she has volunteered with Alameda County Jail's "Start with a Story" program, reading and distributing books to children visiting their incarcerated parents. She is also a volunteer at Stanford Valley Care in Pleasanton.
"Compassion is a pivotal value for me, as I spend as much time as I can giving back to the disadvantaged," Zara said.
* Sander Head is a senior at Amador Valley High, the son of Sam and Susane Head. In Leadership at Amador, Sander led Red Ribbon Week, starting the Donuts with a Cop program to give students an opportunity to chat with police. He is currently on the ASB Executive Council and co-leads the Amador-Adopt-A-Family program and mentors underclassmen. As a Mr. Amador participant in 2017-18, he helped raise $125,000 for George Mark Children's House in San Leandro.
Sander is a goalie on Amador's varsity soccer team and since age 4, has played club soccer with Ballistic United. He is fluent in Spanish, having completed the dual immersion program at Valley View Elementary and Pleasanton Middle School, and for the last three summers volunteered with Rock Bible Church as a builder and Spanish interpreter on mission trips to Mexico. He works as a youth soccer referee, and tutors elementary and middle school students in math. He is a member of the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, and is a youth leader for Vacation Bible School.
"I have learned that honesty and integrity will help me in the long run," he said. "I guess all those years of learning about the Community of Character values did stick with me."
* Paulina Umansky is a senior at Amador Valley. She gives her mother, Anna, all the credit for providing her with opportunities and for being a "constant role model in selflessness."
Throughout high school, Paulina has become invested in protecting the environment and animal rights. In her junior year, she advocated for a district-wide policy requiring schools to recycle and compost, which passed last spring. In addition, due to her concern about fish being experimented on in schools, she helped create the Humane Classroom Act, which would protect animals in classrooms and could become legislation in California in the near future.
She has helped run an Earth Day event at the library, worked with Girl Scouts so they could receive their environment badges, and is working on implementing recycling and composting at Amador and in the community. She also teaches elementary-schoolers through an after-school science program. At the Chabot Space and Science Center, she works with children and creates activities for visitors, and is the captain of the teen Astronomy Team, which contributed to an exhibit at the center.
Paulina aspires to be an author and study environmental policy; she has already started writing her first book.
The scholarship recipients will be honored at the annual luncheon fundraiser at Veterans Memorial Building in May along with other community members being recognized for their service. Nominate character award candidates at www.CommunityOfCharacter.org.