Congratulations to the 2011 Scholars of 826 Valencia!


Jasmine Price-Tillery, recipient of the Young Author’s Scholarship, hard at work on the 2011 Young Authors’ Book Project.

We are thrilled to introduce to you the 2011 winners of the 826 Valencia Scholarships. We received more nominations than ever this spring, and we were awed by all of the applicants’ commitment to their education, community, family, and future. The six students below we either knew through past involvement in 826 Valencia or we connected to them immediately because of their creative voice and dedication to learning.

Thank you to City Arts and Lectures and the Brin/Wojcicki Foundation for generously sponsoring the awards again this year. Thank you also to the family of Taylor Renfrew Ingham, a longtime San Francisco teacher, for sponsoring the scholarship in her name.

Read on to learn more about the 2011 winners:

Jasmine Price-Tillery, Young Author’s Scholarship Recipient

We had only just told her class that they would be published in a book as a part of the 2011 826 Young Authors’ Book Project with June Jordan School for Equity. Jasmine arrived at school the next day with a fifteen-page rough draft of a modern-day myth she had written for her younger sister. In her introduction, Jasmine wrote, “This story is dedicated to my sister, and my hope is that it will teach her about her family, help her find independence, and inspire her to tell her story to many generations to come.” Someone who understands the power of words, Jasmine writes with the same conviction whether its fiction or her own personal narrative. She will attend Howard University in the fall.

Jasmine Pettway, Taylor Renfrew Ingham Memorial Scholarship Recipient

“One day I took a walk on the beach because I woke up too early and decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist.” This line, from one of her essays, represents a determination that Jasmine has to follow her dreams. She not only is a Careers in Science Intern at the California Academy of Sciences, but also approaches creative writing with the same curiosity and drive. She describes the natural world with the eye of a field researcher and a creative mind. She will be the first in her family to go to college when she attends SF State this fall.

Winifher Vasquez, Irving Hochman Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Winifher was born in Lima, Peru, is a member of the Mission High School Wrestling team, and writes with a command of language that makes readers weep over her description of cardboard boxes. “I am not afraid of living,” she wrote in one of her essays, and we understood that she meant it from the moment we met her. Winifher will attend UC Berkeley in the fall, and we can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Elizabeth Jeronimo, 826 Valencia Scholarship Recipient

Ely Jeronimo: member of the 826 Valencia Youth Advisory Board, after-school tutor, Write-a-thon event planner, participant in our Young Authors’ Workshop — it’s hard to imagine what 826 Valencia will do when she goes off to college. During her time at John O’Connell High School, Ely found so many ways to not only get involved in 826 Valencia programming herself, but also pull in over twenty of her classmates to our college preparatory workshops. In and outside of 826, Ely is a role model for her peers and younger siblings and a skilled writer who plans to study architecture at UC Riverside.

Maria Teresa Alfaro, Nathan Jillson Memorial Scholarship Recipient

We met Maria Teresa for the first time in the fall of 2008, when she participated in the Young Authors’ Book Project at Mission High School. Over the fall semester, she and her classmates in Ms. McKamey’s classes wrote a book of essays about the Golden Rule called Show of Hands. In her piece for the book, “The Innocent Victim,” and in her openness toward new ideas and acceptance of other students in her school community, Maria Teresa has demonstrated the power of this rule. We know she’ll continue to be an exemplary student at SF State in the fall, where she’ll be the first in her family to attend a four-year university.

Aress Alemndares, New Voice Scholarship Recipient

When Aress attended the release party for We the Dreamers, the book of essays about the American Dream he wrote with classmates from John O’Connell High School for the 2010 826 Young Authors’ Book Project, he told us that seeing his work in print finally made him believe “it was a big deal.” Since becoming a published author, Aress has continued to make writing and his education in general a big deal, earning higher grades this year than ever before and working seven days a week to support his family and save for college. Aress’s American Dream was to work in the music industry, and we can’t wait to see him achieve it.

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