Four high school seniors have been selected by the Community of Character Collaborative as recipients of the 2021 Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarships. Applicants must explain in writing how they reflect the six characteristics adopted by the schools and the city -- compassion, honesty, respect, responsibility, integrity and self-discipline -- through their service and community involvement.
The scholarship was created to honor the memory of Juanita Haugen, founder of the collaborative, who died in 2007 due to cancer. Haugen was a former president of the local school board as well as the California School Boards Association. Students from Pleasanton high schools are eligible to apply.
The scholarship recipients will be honored at the organization's annual luncheon fundraiser, which also honors other community members for their character and service. Nomination forms will be at www.CommunityOfCharacter.org. Last year's luncheon was canceled, and this year's may be a virtual event.
Luana Yeung, a senior at Amador Valley High School, is the daughter of Peggy and Kenny Yeung. She grew up in a household with immigrant parents, and learned from her mother that being frugal is a virtue.
"Self-discipline and respect have been my core values through my advocacy on social justice issues," Yeung wrote. "I empathize with those that come from underrepresented backgrounds and all that are struggling to hold their identity in the ever-changing community around them. I face different challenges every day, and each interaction brings experiences of having to prove myself while staying grounded in humility and justice."
At Amador Valley, she was co-founder of Students for Social Change, ASB vice president and treasurer, an intern with the Go Green Initiative, volunteers student coordinator for TEDx events and student representative of the AV Green Team, and was captain of the tennis team. She was a volunteer advocate and juror at the Tri-Valley Youth Court; a teacher assistant at the Yang Fan Academy; and is currently an assistant tennis coach at Lifetime Activities, where she teaches groups of children tennis fundamentals.
Her future plans are to attend a university that holds enhanced global justice and policy research institutes, to pursue an education that encompasses both the STEM and humanities learning driven by human connectedness and empathy.
Ellie Sara Huang
Ellie Sara Huang is a senior at Amador Valley High, and is the daughter of Dennis Huang, who grew up in New Jersey, and Connie Chen, who was raised in Taiwan.
Huang wrote about responsibility and compassion: "It is my responsibility to fulfill my duties with my best effort. When I recall my days volunteering at the Senior Center, I see that my experience has been more about learning than giving. From assisting seniors, I learned more about who I am and how I can contribute to the community."
The summer after graduating from Harvest Park Middle School, she began volunteering at the Pleasanton Senior Center, and for three summers, volunteered as a technical tutor, teaching the seniors how to interact with electronics. She also served meals at local shelters, a tradition her family hopes to continue every Christmas Eve. This past holiday season, she helped her parents deliver much needed food to the local Tri-Valley shelter.
At Amador Valley High, she was co-president of the Science Olympiad Team and president of the Neuroscience Club.
She was also principal flutist for the All-State Symphonic Band, the All-Northern Honor Band, and was a section leader for the Amador Valley marching band.
Inspired by her experience working with seniors, she wishes to develop user-friendly devices to help those with disabilities.
Anastasiya Markova, a senior at Foothill High, is the daughter of Olha and Maksym Markova. Born in Ukraine, she moved to the United States at 11, meeting the challenge to learn English, make friends and adapt to new environments and cultures.
"Responsibility for my actions and thoughts always drives me to be a better person because I know that I am in charge of becoming a better version of myself every day," Markova wrote. "Compassion is the quality I try to work on the most, because it is the quality that I see others often forget about. Moving from place to place, I saw different types of lifestyles and perspectives on the world which opened my eyes to different struggles people go through. I try my best to be grateful for my life, kind to others and remember that everyone has a unique story."
She was president of Technovation Girls club at Foothill, on the PTownLife staff, Peer Advocates leader, council member of the Student Interdistrict Action Council, an intern for Student Conservation Association, a volunteer leader at the Dublin and Pleasanton Rec Department Summer Camps, a cabin counselor at New Horizons Outdoor School, and networked through the Built by Girls Mentorship program.
She hopes to intern at businesses related to groundbreaking technology in mental health and cognition.
Ella Grijalva is a senior at Foothill High, the daughter of John and Julie Grijalva. She comes from a close and huge extended family that provided many role models.
"I am inspired by the Special Olympics athletes' hard work and dedication," Grijalva wrote. "The athletes have taught me to be respectful of all differences and to have compassion for all people ... These friendships always remind me of the importance of respect, compassion and acceptance, regardless of ability or disability."
She has volunteered at Special Olympics and helped host Zoom dance parties for its athletes. She has volunteered with Recreation for Adults with Developmental Disabilities (RADD) and was asked to help coach its volleyball team. She volunteered with fundraisers for Sunflower Hill and was in its summer internship program. She has also volunteered for Foster a Dream, Juvenile Diabetes, Pleasanton Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, March of Dimes, Valley Humane Society, American Cancer Society, Open Heart Kitchen and Valley Children's Museum.
At Foothill, she is a three-time captain on the tennis team and was named Scholar Athlete and Rookie of the Year, and received the Foothill Falcon Award. She has been on the Foothill School Site Council for three years.
She has applied to major in leadership and community engagement at Colorado University Boulder's School of Education to study nonprofit management.