CCSA Honors Five Outstanding High School Seniors with Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships

March 18, 2015

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Contact: Dannie Tillman
(213) 924-2439

(Sacramento, California) - Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) awarded five inspiring charter high school seniors each $2,000 as recipients of the Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award. Representing different regions of the state, the students not only share their passion for community service but also the goal of reaching their educational dreams.

The winners were announced at the 22nd Annual California Charter Schools Conference held from March 16-19, 2015 in Sacramento. The four-day annual conference hosted by CCSA drew 2,500+ diverse members of the charter movement to the largest state charter school conference in the country. Learn more about the event.

The recipients of the 2015 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships are:

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Maria Bernal, Leadership Public School Richmond, Richmond, CA.

As a junior, Maria worked for eights weeks as an intern at Kaiser Permanente Richmond in Interventional Radiology and Special Procedures. She plays varsity volleyball, was named captain of the team in her senior year and is a member of the student government. She also served as president of the Toastmasters International Club in her junior year. Maria raises funds for undocumented students who are ineligible for scholarships as a member of the AB-540 Club. She also tutors fellow students at her school and in 10th grade earned a spot on the Dean's List with a 4.0 grade point average.


Jose Chitala, Academia Avance, Los Angeles, CA.

Jose has earned a plethora of accolades including the Principals List Award and Excellence in Leadership Award at the Hispanic Scholarship Funds' Youth Leadership Institute. He is team captain for varsity soccer, class representative for the Associated Student Body, a facilitator of religious education at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church and volunteers for the Northeast Los Angeles Peace March. Jose also volunteers as a youth soccer coach at Kids Club Italia Soccer League.


Chelsie Dang, Preuss School UCSD, San Diego, CA.

In addition to enjoying squash, Chelsie has served as a volunteer at Feeding America and St. Vincent's Hunger Project. She has also interned at both the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the Cross Cultural Center at UCSD. She is an AP Scholar and has won numerous academic awards including the Math Department Award: Honors Pre-Calculus (Awarded for excellence in Honors Pre-Calculus), History Department Award: AP European History (Awarded for excellence in AP European History), NUSEA National Academic Contest, 1st place in 2013 and 2014, National Day of Writing Contest, 1st place Non-Fiction, NUSEA Scholar-Athlete Award and the Principal's High Honor Roll. She is also a member of the National Honor Society.


Anibal Pablo, Oakland Charter High School, Oakland, CA.

Anibal is founder and president of Oakland Charter's Break Dance Club, Drama Club (along with two friends) and Skateboard Club as well as being a member of the Debate Club. Anibal completed a mentorship at La Loma Clinical as well as Mentorship in Medicine and Science in Oakland and won a scholarship and completion award as part of the program. Anibal is a church and school volunteer and also participates in Table Tennis for the Special in Need.


Maria Lizeth Ruiz, Paramount Academy, Delano, CA.

Along with serving as a Delano City of Commerce and church volunteer, Maria has earned awards in math, Language Arts, science, history, Foreign Language and art. She was a Girls State Nominee for the National Society of High School Scholars. Her extra-curricular activities include Key Club International, Future Farmers Of America, yearbook, varsity soccer, science fair, academic decathlon, peer counseling, church youth group, COSMOS Program and Yale Young Global Scholars.

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.

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About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at