2016 Scholarship Award
Starting from middle school, Christina Valdivia always had a passion for leadership. She joined ASB in 6th grade and continued to thrive as student body president in 8th grade. As she got to high school, Christina continued to follow her passion for leadership. During her freshman year, she ran for sophomore president and used a “Rosie the Riveter” campaign theme. She wanted to show her peers that she would be a positive female role model on campus and that “she could do it!”
In addition to leadership, Christina also pursued her passion for music. Throughout high school, she wrote and performed her own music that addressed modern day issues. During her junior year, while participating in track and the spring play, Christina was chosen to receive the Rotary Youth Leadership Award in which she was sent to RYLA, a leadership camp. There she participated in camp projects that included researching global issues. She was inspired to use her leadership skills to tackle world issues which include human trafficking and sexual abuse. Her senior year, as the elected commissioner general (student body president), she worked alongside the other commissioners to plan and execute all school events. She organized “Denim Day, a sexual abuse awareness day, at her school where she encouraged students to stand up for those who are oppressed. She voiced her ideas and opinions of issues through her music and school events. Along with being a leader on campus, Christina has also been a devoted older sister to younger siblings. She wants to create a better world not only for her siblings but also the next generation.
Jason Wang received his third year award and Austin Kahn received his forth year award.
2015 Scholarship Award
Throughout high school, Lena Gavenas was involved in a program called Youth and Government that was run through the YMCA. Lena rose through the ranks and, in February of her junior year, was elected to the highest position in the California Model Legislature and Court: Youth Governor. Despite a myriad of other responsibilities including reading and signing off on model legislation, drafting and signing executive orders, approving a state budget, and serving on the Board of Directors for the program at large, the Youth Governor is known primarily for their speeches, given in front of three thousand delegates, that open and close each conference.
Lena was, as still is, exhausted with tired political rhetoric. The underpinning of both her campaign and her year in office was a call for “true argument” – a return to the ideal of discussion as a means to discover truth, not to defend ego – and empathy. Even out of office, she does her best to continue to be a proponent for these her guiding principles: in persuasive writing (her piece on human rights in immigration detention centers won a scholastic national gold-key), in her graduation commencement speech entitled “human goodness,” and in the way she strives to treat everyone she meets.
Lena now is a UC Berkeley student.
Jason Wang received his second year award and Austin Kahn received his third year award.
2014 Scholarship Award
Jason Wang spent high school guided by his personal ethic to provide meaningful and long-lasting contributions to his school and community. Since 7th grade, he has dedicated hundreds of hours to the American Red Cross, where he earned four distinct certifications ranging from emergency oxygen administration to standard first aid and CPR. As a senior, Jason served as President of his local Red Cross chapter, coordinating disaster preparedness seminars for elementary students, canned food drives, and fundraisers to support Measles vaccines across the Pasadena area.
At school, Jason was elected the ASB Commissioner of Internal Affairs, a position that entails serving as Student Representative to the SPUSD Board of Education. Jason saw this opportunity as a means of allowing student opinion and the voice of his peers to leave a tangible impact on education policy. Jason also boasts a deep-rooted passion for writing, which compelled him to join Tiger, the school newspaper, as a Staff Writer and Business Manager during his junior year.
Come September, Jason will head north to Stanford University, where he plans to pursue a career in medicine. In particular, he aspires to join the fight against cancer by involving himself in cutting-edge scientific research throughout his college career. Although his major is not yet set in stone, Jason hopes to expand his intellectual horizons in the fields of biology, chemistry, and cognitive science, all while staying true to his innate love for community service.
Austin Kahn received his second year award.
2013 Scholarship Award
Austin Kahn does the things he does for their intrinsic value. Passion and dedication have guided him throughout high school and life in general. His passion for the environment has come through both in SPHS’s Virtual Business program and in an unconventional endeavor on the South Pasadena High School campus. As CEO of the Varsity Virtual Business team, Expedition, Austin conceived and led a company dedicated to environmental education through backpacking trips. Along with two fellow classmates, Austin also initiated an effort for sustainable innovation on campus. They established a club called Urban Sustainability to further the efforts in their independent senior project. Their work has included expanding SPHS’s edible garden, diverting the cafeteria’s organic waste with a compost system, and creating an on-campus aquaponic growing system and outdoor classroom.
Come fall, Austin will be traveling in Latin America for a semester with his older brother Gabriel. They plan to work through an organization called World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming (WWOOF). Austin will be attending Middlebury College in February 2014. He hopes to become a member of Middlebury’s Environmental Council. Austin intends to focus his studies on Spanish and the Environment, furthering his interests from high school and opening opportunities for meaningful work in the Spanish-speaking world.
Joyce Alexander received her second year award.
2012 Scholarship Award
Joyce Alexander is a dedicated student activist who focuses on equality and acceptance. As a member of the Associated Student Body at South Pasadena High School, Joyce was a strong voice against bullying. She led several events and fundraisers for her cause, and was also the founder and president of the Gender Equality Club. She has spent her spare time volunteering at the Downtown Women’s Center, attending many different protests and rallies, as well as tutoring other students in math and science.
In the fall, Joyce will be attending the University of California at Berkeley, and will be majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She hopes to combine her two passions – science and activism – by using her technical skills to create innovative solutions to help solve global problems. She plans to continue developing herself as a leader by getting involved in student organizations such as the Queer Straight Alliance, and by becoming a member of the Associated Students of the University of California.
2011 Scholarship Award
Kevin immigrated to the United States in 2006 with his family. As the eldest son, Kevin not only excelled as a student but he also became the anchor for the rest of his family in the absence of his father who works in Taiwan. With the remarkable talent in leadership, Kevin was elected as the president of Key Club, the largest youth service organization in South Pasadena in 2010. Kevin is also linguistically talented, as he is able to speak, read, and write four languages:
English, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and Spanish. Kevin has dedicated himself to community service activities including a number of leadership positions. Exploring his interests in summer of 2009, he volunteered almost every day at Ability First, a disabled children’s center.
Kevin will be the first in his family who will enter college. He will be attending the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2011 to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. During his first year at Penn, Kevin plans to get involved in the Freshmen Leadership Program. Additionally, he will be working on leadership projects with non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia region in his Management 100 course. He will also be participating in leadership positions in service clubs and business organizations on campus. Kevin’s focus of study is management; after graduating from Wharton, he hopes to lead businesses that emphasize social impact by tackling social ills.
2010 Scholarship Award
Anna dos Remedios is the first recipient of the Aydin Salek Leadership Scholarship. In the fall of 2010, Anna plans on attending UCLA to earn her degree in Political Science with a minor in Communications. While at UCLA Anna will continue to involve herself in campus extracurricular activities like service clubs and tutoring programs in order to find her niche. Following graduation, Anna hopes to attend law school and practice in the field of environmental law. By lobbying congress members, arguing for better legislation in the court rooms and involving and educating the public Anna is looking to make a difference.
Aydin Salek Leadership Fund
Aydin Salek Leadership Scholarship was founded in honor of Aydin’s life and his contributions as a student and a community leader. Aydin’s life was guided by his compassion for friends and family, his never ending thirst for knowledge, and his fearless drive to initiate and make a difference. Through this scholarship, it is our objective to provide financial help to other high school seniors who embody those same ideals and therefore can help carry forward Aydin’s legacy and commitments. Learn more…
To support and contribute to Aydin Salek Leadership Fund, please make checks payable to Pasadena Community Foundation and note “Aydin Salek’s Leadership Fund” in the memo. Please mail your donations to:
Pasadena Community Foundation
301 E. Colorado Blvd. Suite 810
Pasadena, CA 91101
All gifts are 100% tax deductible. Tax ID Number will be provided in the acknowledgment letter. Aydin’s Family will also receive an acknowledgment of all gifts donated.
We kindly ask anyone who shares in our mission, to make an annual pledge to help expand the reach of this program and the nurturing of exceptional student leaders.