2014 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships Honor Five Outstanding High School Seniors with College Scholarships

March 6, 2014

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Contact: Dannie Tillman
(213) 924-2439

(San Jose, California) - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is proud to award $2,000 individual college scholarships to five deserving high school graduates at Association member charter schools.

The awards were announced and presented today at the 21st Annual California Charter Schools Conference at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, where nearly 3,000 charter school leaders and supporters gathered to discuss the charter school movement in the state from March 3-6, 2014. Learn more about the event.

The scholarship is named in honor of Susan Steelman Bragato, the co-founder of the first charter school in California and the founder of the California Network of Educational Charters (which was renamed the California Charter Schools Association in 2003). Steelman Bragato was one of the first people to recognize the importance of building a strong network of support among charter school leaders statewide. She also organized the first California Charter Schools Conference. In honor of her unprecedented contribution to the charter school movement, CCSA named this scholarship for her. Steelman Bragato died in 2005 at the age of 47.

Andrew Chang
Granada Hills Charter High School, Los Angeles, California

Andrew Chang had a difficult life growing up in China. He received his first pair of new shoes in kindergarten and endured years of bullying and struggling to learn in school. He was given a chance at freedom when he moved to the United States with his father and entered high school. As a student at Granada Hills Charter High, Andrew was exposed to a new type of education - one that demanded personality instead of conformity. He became a leader, volunteered and received honors in organizations including Key Club, Speech and Debate, Orchestra, Science Bowl, and Model United Nations. Andrew plans to attend college and provide care to others going through difficult times. "The challenges I faced inspired me to develop my own identity; I want to help others develop theirs," said Andrew. "I wish to provide care for others going through difficult times and lead others down the long path of life."

Nori Dubon
Oakland Unity High School, Oakland, California

When she was only six-years-old, Nori Dubon emigrated with her mother from El Salvador to East Oakland. She entered school at a disadvantage due to her language barrier. Yet by the end of fifth grade, Nori was able to communicate with everyone and was at the top of her class. Now a student at Oakland Unity High, Nori earns honors in biology, physics, history, mathematics, and earned summa cum laude during the past four years. She also plays basketball, works and volunteers. "I am a leader because teens in my community need inspiration and hope," said Nori. She plans to mentor a group of middle school girls with potential and show them a different world than what they have been used to experiencing. "My mission is to make leaders who are educated, active and diverse," said Nori.

Martin Garcia
Gompers Preparatory Academy, San Diego, California

Throughout his school years, Martin Garcia woke up every day at 3:00 am in order to cross the San Diego-Mexico border with his father to attend school in the United States. Yet Martin credits this experience as one of many that has shaped his educational journey. "Having to work hard for my education, experience bullying, getting to know a new community, watching my parents work endlessly - these are all factors that influenced me to generate a better future for myself," said Martin. His proudest accomplishment was being accepted as an intern to the Qualcomm Institute's Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of California, San Diego. He loved studying in the professor's laboratory, working side-by-side with undergraduate and graduate students, and attending lectures and seminars. He credits this experience as preparing him for college and beyond. "I want to change the future. Not only mine, but my community. I may not have the money or the resources to do this today - but I have the determination. And in my world, that's all it takes."

James McDaniels
Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, Marysville, California

James McDaniels considers determination his best quality to overcome adversity, which he's demonstrated through overcoming his struggles with autism and Crohn's disease. Diagnosed with autism at a young age, James could not speak in complete sentences until third grade. Although he was hospitalized with Crohn's and had significant speech delays, James has been earning straight "A" grades since fourth grade. He views his autism as a strength and what distinguishes himself from others. James is an active Eagle Scout, has been student body president, editor and writer of his school newspaper, a bass singer in choir, and an athlete in Special Olympics in the sports of track, basketball and baseball. James plans to attend college and pursue a career in sports journalism. "I want to bring my high aspirations, my work ethic, and determination to college," said James. "I hope to inspire others to see that a disease is just a hurdle that can easily be jumped and you can be successful. Because if I can go where I have gone in 17 years, anyone can overcome their hardships and follow their passions."

Ju Rang Seo
Camino Nuevo High School, Los Angeles, California

When Ju Rango Seo immigrated to the United States from South Korea, he did not know English and had little understanding of his new city and surroundings. Yet today, this Honor Roll student considers diligence to be his second nature. He credits his parents - both of whom were from very poor backgrounds - as giving him a moral foundation and the determination to work hard to achieve a successful life. He has dreamed of being a technological entrepreneur from a very young age. Now Ju plans to attend college to study engineering and computer science to develop new technology. "I dream of owning a big company, based on a new idea I create," said Ju. "I plan to work hard, like all the people in my parents' business did, and go beyond. I want to take a part in society to stabilize the economy and develop our world for the future."

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,130 charter public schools and more than 519,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. The Mission of CCSA is to enable our members to increase the number of students attending quality charter schools in California as quickly as possible by securing policy wins supportive of charter schools and providing the supports necessary to open and expand quality charter schools. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.