10 California Charter Public School Seniors Awarded Prestigious College Scholarships

March 27, 2018

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Caity Heim, CCSA

10 California Charter Public High School Seniors Awarded Prestigious Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships

(San Diego, CA) - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is proud to award 10 inspirational, high-achieving charter public school seniors a $2,000 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship at the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference in San Diego. The recipients, who share a passion for community service and reaching their academic potential, will use these awards to help fund their first year of college.

The Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award is awarded to outstanding charter public school seniors annually because CCSA believes that education shouldn't stop after high school. The scholarship is named in honor of Susan Steelman Bragato for her unprecedented contribution to the charter school movement. She was the co-founder of the first charter school in California, founder of the California Network of Educational Charters (renamed to CCSA in 2003), and founder of the first Annual California Charter Schools Conference. Steelman Bragato died in 2005 at the age of 47.

The recipients of the 2018 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships are:


Zoe Karch, Inspire School of Arts and Sciences (Chico, CA)
At an early age, Karch fell in love with performing arts. From her work in children's theater, leadership in school musicals, and musical theater performances, she developed invaluable interpersonal skills that have translated into academic success. Karch will use this scholarship to support her dream of a career in performing arts.


Destinee Duncan, Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy (Oakland, CA)
When Duncan was just five-years-old, her life was turned upside down after losing her father to homicide. However, rather than let her past hold her back, she pushed through the adversity she faced and focused on her passion for writing. She has since been able to achieve and maintain high academic marks as an honor roll student throughout middle and high school. Duncan hopes to use this scholarship to attend college and continue to strive toward excellence.

Amy Estrada, Roseland University Prep (Santa Rosa, CA)
Growing up in a low income, immigrant family is challenging, particularly for Estrada, an ambitious student with aspirations to become the first in her family to graduate high school. Determined to better her life and her community, she was drawn to civic activism for the Latinos in her community. Estrada will use this scholarship to study sociology so she can help others with a similar background start a nonprofit to help undocumented immigrants find jobs and start her own scholarship fund.

Monica Garcia-Vilchis, Lighthouse Community Charter School (San Leandro, CA)
Garcia-Vilchis grew up in San Leandro in a broken home. Despite her circumstances, she transformed her 2.3 grade point average (GPA) to a 3.8 GPA, works a part time job and juggles extracurricular activities. Garcia-Vilchis will use this scholarship to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer, and one day pursue a Ph.D.


Caleb Deniston, Inspire Charter Schools (Tollhouse, CA)
Growing up in a low-income home, Deniston learned from an early age the importance of hard work and responsibility. However, it wasn't until one day when Deniston picked up a guitar that he realized he could combine a passion with his innate sense of practicality. Now, Deniston is a budding musician who plans to use this scholarship to further his musical career in an effort to one day start his own band.

Daisy Gonzalez, Wonderful College Prep Academy (McFarland, CA) Though Gonzalez transitioned from one home to the next throughout her childhood, one thing remained the same: her perseverance. Gonzalez and her siblings were taken in by her aunt and uncle who gave them the love and support they needed to thrive. Unfortunately, her uncle passed while she was in high school. Rather than let loss hold her back, Gonzalez decided to work hard on her studies so that one day she could repay and support her aunt. Gonzalez hopes to use this scholarship to further her education so that she can give back to her family and community.


Sadie-Jean Bolton, Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy (Los Angeles, CA)
Bolton grew up in an oppressed community affected by violence and drugs. Rather than become a victim of her circumstances, she chose to be a role model to her siblings by applying herself in and out of the classroom. Her hard work in both her studies and extracurriculars have paid off. She is graduating with honors and plans to attend college to set a positive example for her siblings.

Anthony Ramirez, Animo Pat Brown Charter High School (Los Angeles, CA)
Ramirez grew up in a small apartment in South Central Los Angeles with his family, where saving money and planning for the future was a major focus. Despite the hardship around him, Ramirez focused his energy on getting good grades and pursuing his passion for business so that he could provide a better life for his family. Ramirez plans to use this scholarship to help him pursue his educational and professional goals.


Felipe De La Cruz, The Preuss School UCSD (San Diego, CA)
De La Cruz grew up in Mexico and traveled across the Mexican-American border daily to attend school. This daily travel was a struggle, but regardless, he worked hard in and out of school, achieving good grades and starting a poetry club to provide a safe space for his peers to express themselves. Through his experience, he hopes to use this scholarship to one day make the Mexican-American immigrant experience simpler.

Ai Setoyama, Capistrano Connections Academy (Irvine, CA)
Setoyama, a second-generation immigrant with a strong Japanese background, struggled to learn the English language and adapt to American culture. However, with the support of her family, school, community and coaches, she was able to overcome these barriers and excel in English. She hopes to use this scholarship to help her pay forward the support her community provided her.

Additional Information:

  • Over 630,000 students attend an estimated 1,275 charter schools in California.
  • 3,000+ conference attendees.
  • More than 160 conference breakout sessions, 57 expo presentations/posters, and more than 300 exhibiting companies.
  • Charter schools are public schools. They are tuition-free and serve all students. Across the state, charter schools are excelling academically.

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About the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference
The California Charter Schools Conference inspires academic excellence, operational integrity and unity among charter schools throughout California. The conference is presented by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). For more information, please visit www.charterconference.org.

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.