In the memory of Aydin – 2011 Winter

گزارش عملکرد بنیاد آیدین سالک

آیدین جان شب چله مبارک

2019 Scholarship Award

For as long as she can remember, Rachel Lu has been obsessed with dialogue. Throughout high school, she began to immerse herself into discussions on the ever-present issues within the school system. 

Rachel found her most meaningful work in utilizing student voice to influence local and statewide education policy. Since 2016, she has conducted advocacy and leadership-counseling as State President of the California Association of Student Councils (CASC), a fully student-run and student-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit. She started her sophomore year as a delegate in the CASC Student Advisory Board on Education and co-authored a proposal on more equitable Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) to the State Board of Education. 

She ran for State Executive Vice President, becoming the first junior to hold the position and eventually served as State President this past year. She led more than 40 student conferences each year, including training for Turkish and Chinese delegates. As a student advisor, Rachel facilitated the creation of student-drafted proposals presented to the State Board and Senate/Assembly Committees on Education. Legislatively, she worked with California State Senator Henry Stern’s office to introduce SB-596 — a bill allowing every California public school student the opportunity to advise their representatives on policy — and AB-543, a bill addressing the transparency of sexual assault and harassment policies. This year as State President, she forged an organizational partnership with the Danish Association of Pupils (Danske Skoleelever) and worked to place a student on the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission. 

Rachel plans to continue her involvement with CASC as a trainer, staffing conferences; she is also a continuing member of the Board of Directors. 

On campus, Rachel worked on SPHS’ acclaimed student-run paper (Tiger Newspaper) as the Online Managing Editor. She wrote hundreds of articles on annual and breaking news and covered several national stories, such as the Andressian and Marquez cases. She found a love for each of the facets of South Pasadena’s school and community in exploring and covering events. In her time on Tiger, she traveled to New York in March 2018 with fellow editors as the publication received a Silver Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. 

Rachel was also an active member of the SPHS Peer Mediators, a peer-led mediation and support group focused on creating a healthy school culture and reducing the stigma around mental health. She took the opportunity to address the need for more standard, open mental health protocols on-campus. She led several faculty meetings throughout the school year, training mediators and members of the Associated Student Body (ASB) to serve as student facilitators in a student-faculty discussion on the topic. As a member of the Mediators, she also worked to host Wellness Weeks and conducted peer support sessions. She was also involved with TASSEL and served as the CASC Representative within the SPHS ASB. 

Rachel interned at the Law Offices of Gary Wang, learning about patent and intellectual property rights. She is spending her summer as an intern for Zócalo Public Square, an LA-based knowledge enterprise which provides free lectures and ideas journalism for the Greater Los Angeles Area. She hopes to encourage meaningful discussion in continuing the renewal process of democracy this summer and at Brown University. Rachel plans on double-concentrating in ‘Public Policy’ and ‘Science, Technology, & Society’ — and of course, to find stimulating dialogues throughout. 

Left to right: Denise Gill, Christina valdivia (2016 winner) mom, Rachel Lu, Janet Anderson, Azita Rezvan, Anthony Chen (2017 winner) friend, Jae Jin Lee (2018 winner) mom, & Hamid Salek  2019 Award Night

2018 Scholarship Award

At South Pasadena High School, Jae Jin served as the Student Board Member to the South Pasadena Board of Education, where he acted a liaison between the high school student body and the Board Members of South Pasadena. He has also served in the SPHS ASB for two years, the first instance being the Sophomore Class President, and the most recent as the Commissioner of Internal Affairs. In his roles as a student leader, Jae Jin actively worked to create platforms for student representation within the administrative body.
Jae Jin is also the Founder and former President of the Liberty In North Korea club at his high school. Through this club, he has organized efforts to fundraise and to raise awareness about North Korean refugees who have escaped from North Korea and has consistently advocated for humanitarian efforts for these people. He plans on continuing his involvement with the official organization during his years in college and beyond.

Left to right: christina valdivia (2016 winner) mom, Salek family, Jae Jin Lee , Denise Gill & Janet Anderson 2018 Award Night

Jae Jin is also the Founder and former President of the Liberty In North Korea club at his high school. Through this club, he has organized efforts to fundraise and to raise awareness about North Korean refugees who have escaped from North Korea and has consistently advocated for humanitarian efforts for these people. He plans on continuing his involvement with the official organization during his years in college and beyond.
Outside of school, Jae Jin serves as a mission trip member through his church, LA Open Door Church. He has had the opportunity to serve as a member on two medical mission trips to Guatemala, in the summer of 2015 and 2017. Through these mission trips, Jae Jin has developed a desire to assist others not only in his local community but on a greater international scale. He hopes to continue to serve as a mission trip member even throughout college.
Jae Jin has also interned with Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, an organization that works for increasing civic engagement and empowering the Asian Pacific American community, as a Community Engagement Intern. He is also planning to expand his experience and knowledge of how he can assist and positively impact the Asian American community through another internship this summer at the office of Congresswoman Judy Chu. Jae Jin plans on majoring in International Development Studies at UCLA this fall.

Anthony Chen received his second year award and Christina Valdivia received her third year award.

2017 Scholarship Award

Anthony Chen

Anthony Chen discovered his passion for using student voice to shape education policy in high school. The summer before his freshman year, he attended the California Association of Student Councils’ (CASC) Summer Camp with his fellow ASB members. Anthony became more involved with CASC, serving as a Region Cabinet Member, Region President, Governmental Affairs Director, and now as a Gamma. He led numerous leadership development conferences across California and even the world, traveling to Beijing in May 2017 to lead a training for a group of adults. As the Governmental Affairs Director, Anthony worked with California legislators to pass eduction policy reform shaped by student voice.

Left to right: Hamid Salek, Azita Rezvan, Anthony Chen , and Jason Wang mother, 2017 Award Night

At SPHS, Anthony was involved in ASB as Freshman Class Treasurer, junior year as CASC Representative, and senior year as Commissioner of Internal Affairs and Student Member on the SPUSD Board of Education. He took this opportunity to advocate for student concerns and promote change — he worked with a group of students and Ms. Anderson to push school start times later, planned the first Student Advisory Board on Education, and passed a safe haven resolution with the School Board. He was also involved in Virtual Business, TASSEL Club, and Tennis.
 Anthony is studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and hopes to attend law school or pursue a career in politics or public policy after graduating. At Penn, Anthony is involved with the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, Asian Pacific Student Coalition, University Scholars Program, Consult for America, and the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project.

Jason Wang received his forth year award.


2016 Scholarship Award

Christina Valdivia

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.

Left to right Janet Anderson, Hamid Salek, Christina Valdivia, Jason Wang mother, Austin Kahn mother & father, Azita Rezvan, and Denise Gill, 2016 Award Night

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

Lena Gavenas

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.



Left to right Hamid Salek, Austin Kahn mother, Jason Wang mother, Azita Rezvan, and Lena Gavenas, 2015 Award Night

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

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.

Jason Wang, Azita Rezvan, and Austin Kahn 2014 Award Night

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

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

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.




Kevin Yin

2011 Scholarship Award

Kevin Yin 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 Yin and Anna dos Remidios

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.


Anna dos Remedios

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 Donate

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.

4 Responses to “Home”

  1. Amy Gasca Says:

    I am so sorry about your son, I live in Houston Texas and I just read the story. I am originally from Mexico but the father of my two teenagers is from Iran. The boys 19 College student and 16 year old HS Student are very proud of been Iranian. They too get confused and sometimes share the feeling of been discriminated by having a Dad from Iran. But I teach them that their Culture is so rich and to be proud. What happened to your son, should serve as a lesson to many of our young kids.

    I am so sorry and God Bless you. I will pray for you and your family’s lost


  2. Valerie Says:

    Greetings from Arizona,
    I just read an article about Aydin’s life and impact on his community. What a remarkable young man! It is clear he would have gone far and accomplished much. You can be proud you raised an individual who was assertive, compasionate, self-confident, and optimistic. I was touched that large numbers of students reached out to try to offer comfort to you, the family, through the candlelight vigil, the memorial, even decorating the Christmas tree. In a crazy world, with so much conflict and dischord, reading about this type of unity is uplifting. God bless you. My prayers are with you…

  3. mfirebrand1 Says:

    My prayers are with your family. My sons Grandfather fled Iran many years ago because of persecution.

  4. Timothy Lee Says:

    I love you. I will always remember you. I miss you.

    Your smile makes me happy and I cant stop imagining you by me as we make decisions for our school. I’ll be thinking about you with every law and motion.

    I hope you know all of us here miss you so so much

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