The Simon Family Foundation’s “Simon Scholars Program” awards recipients are given resources aimed at whole-person development while in high school, including leadership and life-skills training, college coaching/application assistance, a notebook computer, SAT/ACT preparation courses and exposure to the arts. It is an especially unique scholarship program that begins in the summer before a student’s junior year in high school. Students who successfully complete their high school graduation and are in good standing with the Simon Family will receive the $16,000 college scholarship (up to $4,000 per year) awarded as “needs-based” scholarships. The Simon Family Foundation was established to facilitate students with difficult life and economic circumstances in their quests to achieve the American dream through a college education. Our superintendent Dr. Duane Coleman attended the ceremony at the University of San Diego to recognize these amazing high achieving Oceanside High School students who will be seniors this Fall of 2015.
Meet the Oceanside High School Class of 2016 Winners ~
- Brooke Arnott
- Dylan Ayers
- Rachelle Barone
- Ruby Cruz
- Jesse Galvan
- Gabriel Padilla
- Alejandro Piña Carrillo
- Artemio Rodriguez
- Victoria Sebastian-Martinez
From a young age, Brooke Arnott has learned to be grateful for whatever she’s been given, especially her devoted, hard-working mother. She has raised Brooke and her twin sister as a single parent and has sacrificed much to care for her daughters. As a result, Brooke works diligently at school so that she may one day achieve what few in her family have – attend and graduate from a university. In addition to focusing on her studies, Brooke is also currently seeking employment so that she may ease the financial burden that her mother carries alone. She is not only a strong student, but she is also a passionate artist. She immerses herself in painting and drawing and would love to inspire others with her work. After graduating from a 4-year university, Brooke’s dream is to become an animator for Walt Disney Studios. Brooke’s positivity is infectious in the classroom, and her teachers are happy to describe her interactions. “She is honest and exudes a fun-loving personality that makes everyone want to be around her,” explained Brooke’s English teacher. Brooke also volunteers her time to assist the youth at her church and has volunteered for her local community.
As a child, Dylan Ayers had a happy and stable life. He was involved in sports, just like his father and brother before him, and his strong academics had already allowed him to skip a full grade level. Then at the age of 8, all of that changed. On a trip to Kansas with his family, Dylan’s father suffered a heart attack and passed away. The loss was devastating, and though his mother worked hard to keep the family stable, they often struggled financially. The loss of his father also took a heavy emotional toll on the whole family. As the youngest, Dylan watched the strain on his mother and older brother. He decided that it would be better for everyone if he withheld his emotions, and he continued to place his focus into swimming and academics. Now as a high school student, Dylan is consistently among the top academic performers in his class. Not only is he one of the fastest swimmers on his team, he has also participated in two Junior Olympics. Dylan’s dream is to attend Stanford University, where he would like to study law. Dylan’s AP Comparative Politics teacher said, “Dylan takes what life bestows…good and bad…and makes it work for him, while considering the impact on his friends and family. I find him to be a rare and inspiring young person.”
“There are many events that have happened in the past that have molded me into the person I am today. However, some are harder to share than others, but I believe it has to rain before you see the rainbow.” These words from Rachelle Barone demonstrate her optimistic and positive attitude. Though her life has not been easy, she persists and does so with a continuous hope for the future. Rachelle and her two brothers moved in with her father after her mother moved to Massachusetts and couldn’t bring them with her. The transition was tough for Rachelle, and the change in school and her home made her become timid and shy. Now living in a home with all males, Rachelle struggled to find peace between the many arguments that occurred between her family and the subsequent financial issues that arose. With no place to find peace at home, she sought comfort at school and in her one true passion: music. Instrumental and vocal music has helped Rachelle to cope with the whirlwind of her life, and she would now like to pursue music studies at a 4-year university. Rachelle has persevered through hardship, and her teachers would like to see her reap the benefits of her efforts. Her choir director exclaimed, “Her positive outlook and demeanor, friendly attitude, and hard work should be recognized and rewarded!”
Ruby Cruz wanted nothing more than the love and affection of her parents when she was a child, but they were both working and living far away from home. She was being raised by her grandparents and teenage uncle, who was the only father figure she had at the time. When her parents finally came home, her family life was turned upside down. She and her sister moved out of her grandparents’ house, and life with their parents was decidedly different. Her father was often out of the house, but when he was home, he would turn his anger towards Ruby’s mother. Ruby and her sister would hide in their room as they heard the arguments and helplessly listened to their mother being hurt. “I would sleep with the light and the TV on, which only partially blocked out the arguments,” Ruby recalled. “At a young age, I realized my home had been long broken.” Ruby was relieved when her parents divorced, but she also experienced a sense of abandonment when her father left for Mexico. Though he was a negative influence in her life, she still dealt with all the emotions of not having her father there to see her grow up. But the experience made her appreciate those who were still in her life, her mother and sister. They were now left to survive on their own, and her mother worked very hard to keep food on the table. Her computer applications teacher marveled at Ruby’s resiliency. “To know about her struggles while in elementary school and even today, is a remarkable story of grit, motivation and maturity beyond her years,” he said. Ruby is determined to become a college graduate in spite of her past and current obstacles, and she hopes to pursue a career in criminology.
Jesse Galvan is relatively new to the Oceanside area, having moved several times as a result of his father being stationed in different parts of the country. Like most young people, the moves were not easy for Jesse to handle. As a shy and quiet person by nature, Jesse found it difficult to make friends, since he moved so much. On top of that, Jesse experienced bullying on a regular basis. When he did get close to friends, he would move shortly thereafter and lose touch. This cycle began to wear Jesse down, but he was always able to battle his emotions with the one constant in his life: video games. Gaming allowed Jesse to not only escape from the harsh reality of the bullying and instability, but he was also able to connect with others across the country through an online gaming community. Jesse was so inspired by the positive impact gaming had on his life that he has made it his goal to attend a university to major in computer science and game design. “Games helped me deal with my depression with bullying and allowed me to escape from all of my dilemmas,” Jesse said. “I want to satisfy the people around me while doing hobbies that I love,” he explained. Though he considers himself shy, he is also an active member of his school and is a member of many clubs, including the National Honor Society and the Gerard Prep Scholars.
When Gabriel Padilla was 5 years old, his parents divorced, and his father gave up custody. Since then, he has had little contact with Gabriel. His mother was left to care for her 3 children alone, but she was soon unable to work, after a childhood injury permanently disabled her. Unable to keep up with the mounting bills, the family lost its home and relied on friends for a place to stay. After moving around, they ended up in Utah, where Gabriel’s mother emphasized the importance of education. Meanwhile, Gabriel began to explore music and learned to play the trumpet. His family had been on a waiting list for housing back in Oceanside, and when his mother got the call that a home was available, she packed everyone up and drove back to California overnight through a blizzard to get there in time. Gabriel recalls this moment as a testament to his mother’s dedication to her family. Since then, Gabriel has committed himself to becoming a successful college-bound student so that he can make his mother proud. He is determined to attending a prestigious university like Stanford to study medicine. Now an accomplished student athlete, Gabriel has not only received many awards and recognitions, but he is the only student in his age group that can dunk a basketball on his team.
Alejandro Piña Carrillo
As the oldest of four, Alejandro Piña Carrillo witnessed his family’s financial struggles first-hand from a young age. During the birth of his twin brothers, complications arose which left his mother in the hospital for two long months. Alejandro was left to care for his other siblings and maintain the house. while his father worked 6 days a week to support them. Although they would visit his mother often, transportation costs to and from San Diego took its toll on their finances. Additionally, his mother’s two-month stay in the hospital created an enormous amount of debt for the family. As hard as his father worked, Alejandro found it impossible to sit idly by while his family struggled. That is when at the age of 12, he took a job that was offered to him at the local swap meet, where he would assist in one of the shops. He also began to help his uncles and father, assisting them on their construction jobs. Now he is not only directly helping his family with their finances, but he is also able to treat them to dinner after church from time to time. Alejandro will be the first in his family to go to college and would like to attend UCLA to study mechanical engineering. His former English teacher said that, “Alex is one of those students who shine in a crowd. He is an inspiration to students and teachers alike.”
Since the start of middle school, Artemio Rodriguez dealt with severe bullying. He was teased constantly because of his weight, and to make matters worse, the bullying came from boys he considered his friends. He recalled one day when his group of so-called friends wrote and delivered a note to him saying that he could no longer hang out with them. “Kicking me out made me feel alone,” Artemio said. “I had no one to talk to.” His loneliness was magnified at home, since he was the youngest child and his sisters were grown and had moved out of the home. Additionally, his mother worked constantly to support them, and he has almost no contact with his estranged father. In order to pay the mortgage, his mother rents rooms out at their house, and there are currently 9 people living there. Rather than letting this bring him down, Artemio took matters into his own hands. He learned to play various musical instruments, including marimba, piano and guitar. He also became very physically active, joining the water polo and swim teams at Oceanside High School. Artemio recently acquired an internship at a law firm and has also devoted his time to volunteering in his community. Needless to say, Artemio is a highly driven and confident leader who turned the negative comments he received in school into positive action that will lead to his success. Artemio would like to attend UC Berkeley and study political science or criminal justice.
Victoria Sebastian-Martinez was born to young parents, and from an early age she dealt with being in a shared custody environment. When she turned 5, her dad joined the military and went away, so she was left in the care of both sets of grandparents and her mother. While with her mother, she would vie for her mother’s attention and affection, but she still had to compete with the different strangers who were in her house. She later found out that her mother was involved in drugs, but at age 5, she still saw her mother as perfect. After various court dates, her father won temporary custody of Victoria, until her mother could prove that she was properly able to care for her. Unfortunately, her mother chose to rather relinquish custody to Victoria’s father rather than fight for her. However, Victoria learned to be self-reliant throughout the whole process. She became an independent young woman, and she now helps to raise her younger siblings and maintain the home with her stepmother. Victoria’s goal is to be the first college graduate in her family and to get a job in the medical field. She has already begun preparing for her future career by taking courses in the Health Careers Academy at her school. Her former English teacher stated, “Victoria is a wonderful young woman. She has learned to roll with the punches and always maintains a positive attitude.”
Class of 2017 Winners have been announced:
- Natasha Aguilar
- Julie Astorga
- Sofia Florez
- Kiara Pope
- Azalia Urena
- Levi Caamano
- Jose Casarrubias
- Cameron Duran
- Robert Marcial
Their biographies/pictures will be posted on our website soon!