It was a full house at San Jose’s Bayside Community Theater on March 29 as family, mentors, and friends of over 80 Santa Clara County young people, ages 9 to 19, received awards and scholarships amounting to $5,000 from Youth Focus, now in its 40th Salute to Youth Hall of Fame program.
“Events like this encourage other young people to get involved and give back to their community,” says Patricia Burke, who serves on Youth Focus’s Board of Directors.
Fourteen Santa Clara students won awards, including a number of Santa Clara High School students. One such student was Marcus Escorpiso, who won a $250 scholarship. Escorpio was nominated by Nena Morales, his English teacher at New Valley High School and recommended by Anthony Butler, who runs the Career and College Center at Santa Clara High School. Escorpiso has been a starting point guard with South Bay Scholars, a high school basketball league, a teacher’s assistant and a volunteer who helped municipal clean up in Bullhead City, Arizona while visiting his grandmother.
“I felt special to get this award because no one had shown their confidence in me, until Mr. Butler and Ms. Morales pushed me in the right direction,” Escorpiso says. “At Santa Clara High School, I started off doing well in school during freshman year until I hit a bump. I started to become lazy and not go to school and my grades dropped. I was sent to New Valley High School… I caught up with my credits and I’m back at Santa Clara High School. I’m going to graduate on time with the Class of 2016. I’m going to San Diego State University to study kinesiology.”
Jessica Brasil, also a senior, won a $100 scholarship for her studies at San Jose State University, where she plans to study nursing. Jonathan Wilson, a history teacher, nominated her.
“I’m the president of the Portuguese Club at Santa Clara High School,” Brasil says. “At the beginning of the year, we organized to sell linguica hot dogs, Portuguese sausages, at the school’s club fair. Two weeks ago, we finished up a t-shirt fundraiser. I’m also involved in the Filarmonica Uniao Portuguesa, a Portuguese band. I play the clarinet. We play all over California. This past summer, we went to Azores Island, islands off the coast of Portugal, and we performed there. We practice at the S.E.S. Portuguese Hall in Santa Clara.”
Vyvy Nguyen, senior class president at Santa Clara High School, won a $100 science scholarship, as she hopes to study biology in college. Nguyen was nominated by Chandra Henry, formerly the vice principal of activities of Santa Clara High School. (Henry is now the vice principal at Wilcox High School.)
“As senior class president, some main events I organized were homecoming, battle of the classes, fundraisers, prom and spirit rallies,” Nguyen says. “I’m also on the varsity volleyball and track team, the Santa Clara City Youth Commission and I’m the area director of the Interact Club, a community service club.”
Other students from Santa Clara who received awards are Marc Velayo, Tomas Mier, Clementine Sicard, Autonella Doblanovic, Sheridan Demars, Ariadna Pavon, Tiffany Austin, Tia Foot, Mikayla Samatua, Kentaro Tanaka and Gabriela Guillen.