10 Outstanding Charter High School Seniors Awarded Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships

March 17, 2016

  • Print

Contact: Emily Bertelli

(Long Beach, California) - Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) awarded $2,000 scholarships to ten inspiring high school seniors from CCSA member charter schools. Recipients of the Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award represent different regions of the state. Each of the 10 students shares a passion for community service and for reaching their educational dreams.

The winners were announced at the 23rd Annual California Charter Schools Conference held from March 14-17, 2016 in Long Beach. The four-day annual conference hosted by CCSA drew over 4,000 charter public school leaders, teachers, supporters and advocates. 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.

The recipients of the 2016 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships are:

Lizbeth Cuevas, Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School, Los Angeles, CA
Lizbeth describes herself as a Latina immigrant, whose father was a construction laborer and mother sold the family jewelry to help pay rent. Her parents were never able to help Lizbeth with academics, but they supported and encouraged her in life. Lizbeth consistently earns high academic grades and finds herself on the Dean's List and Honor Roll. She is an active volunteer at her school and in the community, engaging in activities such as cleaning up downtown Los Angeles and creating gardens. She plans to earn a college degree to become a teacher and help other Latina immigrants like her find their voice.

Anahi Gutierrez.jpg

Anahi Gutierrez, Animo Venice Charter High School, Los Angeles, CA
Anahi was born and raised in West Los Angeles as the first generation Mexican-American in a home where Spanish is the predominant language spoken. As the daughter of immigrant parents, she has witnessed their struggles, which shape her dreams and aspirations to attend college and become a nurse. Anahi takes six Advanced Placement courses, consistently places on the Honor Roll, and participates in several clubs and committees. She is also a team player on the volleyball court and runs for the gold on the cross-country team. Anahi worked as a summer youth intern at the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Hospital where she assisted nurses and delivered meals to patients at the Family Care Center.

Christopher Huebner, University Preparatory School, Redding, CA
Nothing excites Christopher more than learning new languages. He describes the experience as opening up an entirely new world to other cultures and communities. And there is nothing more exhilarating for him than walking down the street hearing people speak in their native language and understanding what's being said. Christopher is consistently on the Honor Roll and came in first place in the regional Science Bowl tournament during his junior year of high school. The Redding City Council recognized him and the achievement qualified him for the National Science Bowl Tournament. He won the Creative Communications poetry-writing contest in ninth grade and was published in the school's anthology that year. Christopher has worked as a tutor in Latin, math and English since eighth grade.

Jian Hao, Oakland Charter High School, Oakland, CA Jian grew up passing the days at home with his LEGO toys, which helped him create his own reality in which he could go anywhere and do anything. Jian discovered that his dream was to build - not only in the form of toy blocks, but with wood, metal and concrete. He is seeking a career as a mechanical engineer, which he feels is an extension of taking childhood projects and creating them in the real world. Jian is an AP scholar, involved in student government, and has served in leadership roles in School Publishing Club, Auburn Society and the Junior State of America Debate Club. He also works at the Oakland Library Children's Room and volunteers with local Rotary Club.

Lucerito Lopez.jpg

Lucerito Lopez, High Tech High North County, San Marcos, CA Being driven has helped Lucerito achieve academically, and to be the first in his family to attend college. He enrolled in all the honors courses that he could, and found his passion studying biology and science. Lucerito participated in the COSMOS program at UC San Diego where he learned about complex topics such as organic chemistry. He credits his parents as helping him achieve his college goals, even though they do not have the resources or academic background to help him. Lucerito took it upon himself to seek tutoring and learn how to apply to college. In addition to his academic work and pursuit of science, Lucerito trained with firefighters in the Community Emergency Response Team, and served as a High Tech High Ambassador.

Ricardo Lopez.jpg

Ricardo Lopez, Synergy Quantum Academy, Los Angeles, CA Ricardo credits his father for always encouraging him to learn as much as possible in order to provide value to others in life. He plans to attend college and change the world through engineering and by inventing new technologies. Ricardo has participated in the MESA engineering program for three years and interned at Northrop Grumman in the electronic engineering department during the summer of 2015. He plans to return to the organization every summer until he graduates from college and becomes a full time employee. Other than his engineering activities, Ricardo participates in Uncensored, a club that focuses on social issues and ways to give back to the community. He is also a member of the weightlifting club and part of the Los Angeles Police Department cadet program.

Melissa Murdock, Charter University Prep, Placerville, CA
Melissa is a high school senior who plans to major in Arabic with the goal of teaching English to Middle-Eastern children. As a teacher, she hopes to foster relationships with children who grow up in a world entirely different from her own. She hopes to give kids the same foundation she found in her own family so they can learn and grow from her own strength. Melissa received the Young Womanhood Recognition Award in 2014, which is the highest recognition of spiritual achievement in her church. She serves as Associated Student Body (ASB) president, and was formerly the ASB secretary and sophomore representative.

Conf16 Bragato Scholarship_Katherine Najar.jpg

Katherine Najar Velazquez, Gompers Preparatory Academy, San Diego, CA
Growing up in a family of seven people in a studio apartment, Katherine knew she did not have much financially. But she admits the studio felt like a palace compared to the Buick that her family lived in previously. Those experiences made her extremely grateful for what she does have, and has learned to appreciate the little things in life. As a senior at Gompers Preparatory Academy, Katherine is doing all she can to make every experience count. She participated in the Glee Club and the youth leadership program, Teen Leap. She is a member of Toastmasters and the lacrosse and girl's soccer team. Katherine also received the Golden Pyramid award from the Urban League of San Diego in both 10th and 11th grades.

Michael Regla, San Jacinto Valley Academy, Hemet, CA
Michael considers himself a role model for his Latino peers. Every day, he works to balance rigorous academics, sports and community service. He is in the process of completing courses and the external assessments for a two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Michael earned an International Baccalaureate Subject Area Certificate for Science, Language Arts, and Foreign Language from 2012-2014. He was on the Alpha and Beta Honor Rolls, and received the Senate Certificate Recognition in 2015. He has also participated in his school's varsity football, basketball and track and field, and received the Coaches Award for Most Inspirational in Football in 2014, and the Football Coaches Award for Citizenship.

Keelan Winter2.jpg

Keelan Winter, Springs Charter School, Temecula, CA
Keelan admits that seeing her father diagnosed with esophageal cancer and then passing away the following year was a turning point in her life. Keelan was especially humbled by the individuals who donated funds to support his family during this difficult time, and has made it a goal to attend college in order to pay everyone back with money or kindness. Keelan is an active participant in the Cyborg Zombies 3470 Robotics FRC Team. She practices horseback riding, soccer and kick boxing. She is also on the National Honors Society. Keelan volunteers with Green Acres Horse Ranch and Cyborg Zombies Beach Clean Up.

Join Us:

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 www.ccsa.org.