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Champions of Diversity
Skagit Valley College and Washington’s public universities are pleased to recognize young multicultural leaders in Skagit, Island, and San Juan counties. Join us to applaud these high school students for their achievements in promoting diversity in their school and community! In addition to the Champions of Diversity Awards, selected seniors will receive scholarships presented by local individuals, businesses and Washington state colleges and universities.
Champions of Diversity 2021
Hello everyone. I hope this message finds you healthy and well, and I appreciate your ongoing commitments and partnership to the Champions of Diversity program, now in its 21st year.
What a year of shuffling and adapting it has been. With the shift to remote operations at SVC, we have also had to adapt the Champions of Diversity program this year. Due to a host of factors, including complex logistics, health, and safety, we have decided to honor this year’s student awardees with curated “swag” packages and will be hosting a scaled-down virtual event for SVC awardees.
I am grateful to our SVC Foundation, who will be sponsoring a virtual celebration for SVC awardees and scholarship sponsors on April 15, 2021, via Zoom. Stay tuned for further details on this event, which are forthcoming. For our university partners’ scholarship recipients, they will be receiving swag boxes full of items from both the university that will be awarding them and Skagit Valley College.
This year has been exceptional in so many ways and I want to express my sincere appreciation for your flexibility and grace in adapting to these temporary changes. In particular, Julie Stone with North Cascades Institute has been instrumental in supporting the continued opportunity for sophomores and juniors to participate in the North Cascades Institute Youth Leadership Adventure.
Together as a community, we are finding ways to recognize the accomplishments and potential of these amazing students. I look forward to celebrating with you—hopefully in person—next year and will be in touch regarding ongoing plans. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of what’s to come in the next few weeks regarding this year’s awards. Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and your partnership. We could not do this without you.
Alana D. Quigley
Director of Student Equity & Inclusion Services
Champions of Diversity 2021 Honorees
Western Washington University COD Winners
- Diana Vega-Guzman is a very active student at Burlington-Edison High School. She is known to be kind, collected, determined and steadfast by those around her. Diana was an AVID student throughout her entire high school career and has been active in student government and clubs, and cultural activities in the community. She volunteered at the Cinco de Mayo celebration and Día de los Muertos festival. Diana has an interest in a medical career, but wants to be open to her options.
- Gloria “Danny” Lopez Aguilar, a student at Burlington-Edison High School, is known for her colorful energy, being fun, creative, artistic, analytical and curious. She has learned patience helping with 2nd- 4th graders while working at summer school. Gloria was an AVID student, took her fair share of STEM classes, was secretary of the art club for two years and wants to be a neuroscientist.
- Staicy Nicolas is a determined AVID student from Burlington–Edison High School who works hard, while also being kind and giving. She is a Running Start student at Skagit Valley College, an AVID student, is active in clubs, including Interact and the Key Club. Staicy enjoys giving back to her community, and wants to pursue degrees in business and psychology.
- Wendy Granados is a kind, hardworking student at Burlington-Edison and natural leader. She is involved in Leadership and Tiger Foundations and has also helped with events at West View Elementary. Wendy is known to be a fast learner and is considering human services work, but IS keeping her options open. What she does know is that she will graduate from Western with her bachelor’s degree.
- Perla Ramirez is a caring, curious and hardworking Burlington-Edison student who is very dedicated to her family, community and future. She has helped at parent teacher conferences, attended and helped at Gear Up after school, and also helped at a food bank when COVID-19 shut down schools. Perla is considering going into dental work or the nursing field.
- Victor Martinez is an AVID student and a first generation college student from Mount Vernon High School. He recognizes the importance of balancing school, sports and family responsibilities and is determined to make his life and his family’s life better by getting his bachelor’s degree. Victor was a captain on the Mount Vernon High School football team. He has helped teachers, and tutored other students. Victor is proud of his cultural heritage, and he has also supported events of friends from other cultures like the Filipino community. He has already taken courses in high school to support a future in the health care field.
- Elianna Stowell is an AVID student and a first-generation college bound student from Mount Vernon High School. She has been a member of the Migrant Leaders Club since middle school, has attended the Students of Color conference and helped organize and put on a performance at the Lincoln Theatre called the Hidden Truth, to shine a light on the struggles of students who migrate and have to work in the fields. Elianna is interested in both auto technology or pre-engineering. She is also persistent, and this is best reflected in her own words. “I set goals and have an optimistic perspective on life. I don’t see rejection or unplanned events as failure; I see it as an obstacle that will later on make me stronger in success.”
- Marisleisy “Mari” Nolazco will be graduating from Mount Vernon High School and seeking a B.A. in Business from Western. She sees it as her “duty as a person to help other people because we are all equal.” Mari has been very giving in our community, volunteering at her church, the Friendship House, and with a group offering food and clothing support to farm workers and their families. She was an AVID student described by those who know her as kind, funny, motivated, hardworking and humble.
- Anna Fuentes-Vivanco moved to Mount Vernon from Mexico and started at Mount Vernon High School as a freshman. She is an AVID student with a huge heart that is part of the Link Crew helping to welcome incoming 9th graders to the campus, volunteers as a childcare provider for parents and teachers during school events, and has her sights set on becoming an elementary school teacher. Anna has a full plate with school, work, extracurricular activities and home life, but still radiates positivity and kindness everywhere she goes.
- Bianca Serrano is a hard-working student from Sedro-Woolley High School who one teacher described as the “most diligent” student they have ever had. She gives a lot of her time to her family and still is known to be the first to turn her assignments in class. Bianca is a first-generation college student. She has been very involved in the Leadership program and has helped increase culture and community at her high school. She is very self-motivated and plans on getting a bachelor’s degree in interior design at Western and being a real estate agent and interior designer.
- Daisy Sanchez-Albor is an AVID student and very active at Sedro-Woolley High School. She has been involved in a variety of causes including gender equality, LGBTQ+ equalities, Black Lives Matter and issues concerning immigrant populations. Daisy is a member of the Rotary Club, Key Club and the Latinos Unidos Club, which she helped to revive. She also participated in the migrant Dare to Dream Academy in the summer. Daisy works hard to help at home, and still excels at school. She speaks Spanish and English, and is learning French. She is excited to get to Western and is looking at her options, including engineering, nursing and teaching.
- Diego Bueno is a hardworking, courageous student at Sedro-Woolley High School. He is respected for his natural leadership skills and is currently Vice President of the Social Action Club, which spreads awareness and resources on social issues, and is an active member of the Latinos Unidos Club. Diego is an ambitious student described as empathetic, inclusive in his approach, strong and determined by those around him. He cares a lot about the issue of mental health, plans on getting a master’s degree in psychology from Western, and isn’t ruling out getting a doctorate degree.
Central Washington University COD Winners
- Zinnia Morris is a compassionate, giving, hardworking, socially active and determined student at Burlington-Edison High School. They are interested and have done their own research on the Black Lives Matter movement, and also pride themselves on being an advocate for other marginalized groups, including Native and LatinX people. Zinnia has held numerous leadership positions on campus, including in the Performing Arts Club and was nominated as the 10th grade HOBY leader to represent BEHS at their annual conference. Zinnia is currently in AP Art, has taken courses in music, drama and choir, and is interested in the visual and performing arts.
- Maria Arellano-Valencia is a positive and upbeat AVID student at Mount Vernon High School. She has played a key role in promoting cultural activities on campus, including Hispanic Heritage Month and Día de los Muertos. Maria has also been involved in Cheer, serves as President for the Mariachi Club, been active in the Folkloric Dance Club and participated in Dance Club and the National Honor Society. She is a natural leader and known for taking others under her wing. Maria is taking honors in anatomy and physiology and is interested in medicine and pathology.
- Jasmin Conejo-Castro is a kind, focused and determined student at Mount Vernon High School who sees her four years with the National Honor Society as a central part of her high school experience. She feels this has helped shape her into a leader and driven her to contribute countless volunteer hours in the community. Jasmin has also been active in the Latinx Unidos Con Honor y Amistad (L.U.C.H.A.), helped with the Link program, and has played tennis all four years at Mount Vernon High School. She would like to major in business.
- Janet Conejo-Castro has been called a rock for the AVID program, which she has participated in all four years at Mount Vernon High School. She is described as thoughtful, supportive and organized. Janet has been the yearbook editor the last two years. She volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at Little Mountain Elementary school, was on the girl’s tennis team for two years, participated in the National Honor Society, and served on the Link Team welcoming new students to campus. She plans to get her degree in administration and marketing.
- Norma Equihua-DelToro is an intelligent, hardworking, creative student at Sedro-Woolley High School and is known to be a fast learner. When she moved to the small district in the United States from Mexico, she started school and lacked ELL support. Norma, being independent-minded and self-motivated, tackled learning English on her own by reading, reading and more reading. She is a proud member of the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders of America and has been an active supporter of ELL programs at the high school, Evergreen Elementary school, and an evening adult ELL program at the high school. She is an AVID student who plans on becoming an accountant.
Eastern Washington University COD Winners
- Malakhi Stevenson is a Burlington-Edison High School student currently participating in Skagit Valley College’s Running Start program. Those around him describe him as thoughtful, energetic, and a positive and curious learner. Malakhi gave 80 hours of volunteer time helping senior citizens in the community last year. He was part of the YES program and planned to go to Guatemala last summer but was not able to go, unfortunately due to COVID restrictions. Malakhi is an athlete, plays basketball, football, and does track. He is interested in the health sciences field and is already taking statistics as a step towards his goal.
- Ashley Gonzalez is an active, positive spirited student at Burlington-Edison High School. She plays soccer for both the high school and a community team, has given up over 200 hours of volunteer service in the community, including doing activities with residents of the Where the Heart Is nursing home, and helping to feed people in need at the Wells Church in Mount Vernon. Ashley is part of National Honor Society, Key Club, Yearbook and Varsity in Volunteerism and manages to keep her GPA high with all this going on. She is still undecided about her degree, but is confident it will be in something working with people.
- Nancy Lopez is a quiet but hard working, intelligent and compassionate AVID student at Mount Vernon High School. Family is important to her. She does all she can to contribute to her home life and works diligently on her schoolwork because she wants to make her family proud. Ashley participated in Leadership and the Key Club while on campus and is currently enrolled in the Dental program at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy. She is interested in becoming a dental assistant.
- Madilyn Fisher is a driven student from Mount Vernon High School. Madilyn is considered a natural leader and organized, responsible and caring by those around her. She has excelled in the arts, serving as the Strong Orchestra’s concertmaster/principal first violinist before being accepted into the Chamber Orchestra as a freshman. Madilyn has been involved in robotics since the 7th grade and is the co-president of the MVHS Robotics Club. She intends to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders in order to become a speech-language pathologist/audiologist.
- Esmeralda Merino-Ramirez is an AVID student at Mount Vernon High School and has been an active member of the Migrant Leaders Club since the 7th grade. She is always up for a challenge and those around her see her as strong, resilient, loyal and caring. Esmeralda has been doing public speaking for years and also contributed two poems to a book the Migrant Leaders Club put out called When the Dust Settles. She has planned for her future by enrolling herself in the Applied Medical Sciences course to earn college credits and several certifications while in high school and is interested in getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
- Ryan Conejo Sauno is an AVID student at Mount Vernon High School. While there, he has volunteered 60+ hours at various events through the National Honor Society and Future Farmers of America. He is also a member of LINK and the Sports Medicine Club. Ryan is passionate about his culture and wants to see it more accurately portrayed and respected in school and in the community in general. He wants to see campuses be more inclusive for all students. Ryan wants to become a teacher and is leaning towards becoming a sports medicine teacher, but also thinks about teaching English. He has taken Human Anatomy and Physiology, Sports Medicine I and II, AP English Language, AP US History, and Health Science.
Washington State University COD Winners
- Elizabeth Luna-Santos is a goal-orientated student at Burlington-Edison High School and a Running Start student at Skagit Valley College for the past two years. She is highly engaged in both her community and school. Elizabeth has volunteered over 300 hours earning three varsity letters in volunteerism. She has served two years as treasurer of our Key Club, as secretary and then Vice President of our Interact Club and as Vice President, and then President, of our Multicultural Club. In addition, she served two years as the student representative of the Migrant Parent Group for the B-E District. She will be entering the engineering program at WSU and wants to be a civil engineer.
- Alan Ruiz is a dedicated student at Mount Vernon high School who spreads warmth and kindness wherever he goes. Alan wrote in his application, “I should be a Champion of Diversity because I want to give back to community and I want to represent my people, the Latinx community in higher education. I want to inspire younger Latinx generations to show them we can make it big in this world.” He is involved in the Latinx Unidos Con Honor y Amistad (L.U.C.H.A.) Club, National Honor Society, a mentor at La Chispa and often volunteers at Trailside ECEAP in Everett, a preschool for low-income families. Alan would like to go into forensic science or medicine.
- Alizee Hargrove is a kind and determined student at Anacortes High School and has been an AVID student since 7th grade. Alizee is a skilled basketball player who has been a strong, contributing member of the AHS Girl’s Basketball team all through high school. Alizee has also been a member of the Girl’s Golf team, the AHS Link Crew, helping to welcome new 9th graders and new students to AHS and is a member of the Students of Color Association (SOCA). Alizee enjoys drawing and painting. She is interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
- Khyiashea (Khiya) Robinson is a student at Oak Harbor High School and is diligent in her pursuit of knowledge and active in taking steps towards positive change. Khiya was involved from the start at getting the Black Student Union (BSU) Club going at Oak Harbor High School. She and her fellow BSU officers instigated and staged our first Real Talk, and from this bloomed a school awareness and a public training by the BSU students for our staff. One Oak Harbor High School staff member said of her, “upon meeting Khiya, you might consider her a businesswoman, banker, or princess, but under this calm together composure lives a passion and vibrancy that will shock your world.” She is leaning towards a political science degree with a minor in criminology but is also considering pre-law. Khiya also has a passion for politics.
University of Washington COD Winners
- Ekaterina “Katya” Matsko is an AVID student at Sedro-Woolley High School and a natural born leader. She is the current Chapter President of Future Business Leaders of America and three-time regional and Washington state public speaking champion. Katya has also been involved with the National Honor Society, is the current President of SWHS Earth Club, a very active member of SWHS Varsity in Volunteerism, has done more than 330 hours of tutoring, and received the National President’s Volunteer Service award for 1,200+ volunteer hours as a state officer for FBLA. Her goal is to earn a degree in international relations with a minor in business and eventually earn a PhD. The ultimate goal is to be a U.S. ambassador or work at the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, or the White House.
- Maria ”Lupita” Ocampo is a very intelligent, caring and welcoming student at Mount Vernon High School. One staff member at MVHS said she is “one of the most inspirational students I have ever worked with.” Maria is attentive and conscientious, is very organized, with a ton of follow through. She is passionate about social justice work and is a member of the Social Justice Club. Maria is an active member of the teen council. Those around her say that her approach to social issues truly honors a diversity of opinion. Maria is a member of a few choir organizations and the National Honor Society. We aren’t aware if Maria has made her mind up about what degree she is after, but one staff member from MVHS said they were confident it would be something along the lines of environmental science/climate change advocacy.
Skagit Valley College COD Winners
- Tyeson Neal has learned how to positively manage his disability and has taken charge of his own IEP (Individual Education Plan) at school by leading his IEP team in developing an education plan that best supports him. Those around him describe Tyeson as determined, resilient, respectful and kind. Tyeson began swimming at the age of three and joined the Oak Harbor NWAC swim team at the age of six. Along with swimming, Tyeson took up martial arts training at a young age, until he was forced to make a tough decision between the two. With the decision to focus on martial arts, Tyeson continued with his rigorous training, often practicing four hours a day. Tyeson would like to attend a college to further his interest in graphic arts, focusing on anime.
- Andrea Andrade is a kind, hardworking and responsible student at Sedro-Woolley High School. Andrea is part of the migrant program at SWHS. She is responsible and hardworking, and has always been a devoted student. She enjoys art and photography. She has attended several migrant student leadership conferences at Western Washington University. Andrea has taken sports medicine, medical terminology, and earned four Spanish credits on the STAMP test. She wants to be a nurse.
- Yushlavia Cerriteno is a solid presence in the AVID program and a determined student at Mount Vernon High School. Yushlavia was president of the Korean Culture Club that has a strong and loyal following at MVHS and performs for school events. She was also a Link leader, providing support to incoming freshmen, helping create a positive start to their high school experience. Yushlavia will be the first in her family to graduate high school and go to college. She has been actively seeking out opportunities to learn more about nursing and health careers by attending multiple workshops at local colleges and universities. Yushlavia is interested in earning a nursing degree.
- Cesar Osornio Ramos is a driven student at Oak Harbor High School. He transferred from a highly competitive school in Tijuana, Mexico that he credits for helping him develop strong study skills. Teachers consider him a natural leader and always comment on his positive attitude, willingness to help or coach other students, and academic drive. He is known to be kind, considerate, helpful and generous. Cesar is proud of his Mexican heritage, and his multicultural family background includes a grandparent from Spain and another from Puerto Rico. He is planning to enter the field of healthcare.
- Gabriella Timblin is a student at Sedro-Woolley High School and is considered to be a great example of a Champion of Diversity by staff at her school. She has challenged herself, taking rigorous AP courses, advocated for herself to get what she needs to maintain high academic standards, and has offered over 550 hours of volunteer time to serve her community and beyond. In 2017 and 2019, she traveled to impoverished communities and orphanages in Tijuana, and La Mision, Mexico for some of those volunteer hours. Gabriella also helps out at the Boys and Girls Club and community auctions in her free time. Gabriella is pursuing a career in the medical field. She is currently taking Human Anatomy and Physiology through Central Washington University to earn college credit.
- Yeceli Montero-Ruiz is an AVID student at Mount Vernon High School and is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow. She also has a personal interest in helping others build a better and brighter future for themselves. Yeceli has proven to be a dedicated student. She arrived to the United States at 15 years old and had to learn English while attending school and working to pay bills. Yeceli is persistent and shows real fortitude no matter how much she has on her plate. She has participated in various activities being a part of Leadership, played volleyball and volunteered at Washington Elementary School. Yeceli plans to be a pediatrician.
- Chloe Nagatani is a hardworking and dedicated student at Burlington-Edison High School. She is a curious student who is very caring and loves to help people. Recently, Chloe has been learning about her Japanese culture, including the struggles her great grandparents faced losing their Bainbridge Island farm while they were sent to an internment camp during WWII. She has served in multiple ways for students with special needs. She has been a PE peer tutor and a part of the Buddy Club, which is an after school program to help students who receive special services. Through this club, she has supported students during our unified basketball and unified soccer games and has helped organize a dance to bring awareness to their club. Chloe has done tutoring for elementary students and participated in the Recruiting Washington Teachers courses for two years. She is an honest, reliable and creative student who plans to obtain her master’s degree in education to become an elementary school teacher.
- Daniella Villa-Flores is a quiet, humble and compassionate student at Mount Vernon High School. She has had plenty of struggles in her life and that gives her motivation to go to college and succeed. Daniella splits her time and energy between school and family. She has dedicated herself to being a strong student and keeping a solid GPA. Daniella has high hopes for her future and plans to get a degree in business and pursue a career in management.
- Daisy Reyes-Flores is a talented reader and writer from Burlington-Edison High School. She will be a first-generation college student and is inspired by her parents, who wanted to attend college, but were not able to make it happen for themselves. Daisy has participated in the Multicultural Club, done volunteer work for West View Elementary, and has been a Sunday school teacher assistant at her church. She is deeply proud of her culture. She honors family unity, takes pride in celebrating traditions like Christmas and Día de los Muertos. She takes pride in things like the beautiful designs that her grandmother sews onto cloth that keeps tortillas warm and thoroughly remembers the food that she would take time and love to make. Daisy is a well-organized student who would like to be a middle school or elementary school writing teacher who works with multilingual students.
- Amber Ramirez is a kind hearted and hardworking student at Oak Harbor High School. She participates in track and field, is a member of National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and treasurer of Esports Club. SADD Club is all about students helping students make positive decisions about challenges in their everyday lives. They promote awareness of many issues throughout the year, such as impaired driving, tobacco use and other problems that concern teens today. They host two Puget Sound Blood Center donor drives. Amber is from a military family and moved around a lot. At times, she struggled with her identity, carrying a traditionally Hispanic last name and the negative responses she sometimes received because of it. She now takes pride in that heritage. Amber wants to go into medicine, inspired by her father, who has an autoimmune disease. Amber’s career goal is to get an M.D. and become an endocrinologist.
- Emma Hoboy is a hardworking student at Sedro-Woolley High School. She has faced adversity, but that has not stopped her from standing up for issues and injustices others continue to face. She has joined in actions standing up for the rights of Native, LatinX and African American people, as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Last year, Emma and some of her peers, presented to the SWSD School Board on the idea of converting our school power system from electrical to solar power, implementing compost bins in the cafeteria, and starting a garden to grow fresh produce for lunch. She has been involved with Volunteer in Varsity (VIV), which focuses on community service, and W.I.S.H (We Inspire Safe Habits), which seeks to make the school a drug-free environment. She is thinking about becoming a nurse or a surgeon.
Timeline of Events
March 26 – Letter of introduction sent to all COD & University Scholarship winners.
April 15 – An Evening with Champions (Virtual Event via Zoom)
We will be honoring our 10 SVC COD Scholarship Recipients and meeting our sponsors that help to make the COD Scholarships possible.
July 15 – SVC COD Wraparound Zoom Meet Up
All SVC COD scholarship recipients are welcome to attend this event where our wraparound team will be available for questions.
September 15 – WEEK BEFORE SCHOOL BEGINS FALL QUARTER 2021
Outreach call/email to SVC COD Scholarship recipients to answer questions and provide upcoming dates for new student orientation.
September 21 – FIRST DAY OF CLASSES!
Between 1990 and 2000, Skagit Valley College offered full-tuition scholarships to 10 multicultural students each year with funding from the SVC Foundation. High school students routinely did not apply for these funds. To encourage high school student participation, the Champions of Diversity Awards Ceremony was founded in 2000 by Anita Ordóñez, SVC; Rita Ordóñez, UW; and Rafael Gomez, WWU.
Each year, over 100 high school students are presented with a “Champions” award at this ceremony, and selected seniors receive scholarships from 8 colleges/universities and other donors. Over 700 community and family members come together at this event to honor and recognize these young people.
Reasons to Nominate Students for Champions of Diversity Awards
This is a short list of reasons a student could be nominated but not the only reasons. When nominating a student we look for individuals who have worked to promote diversity in their school, community, church or daily activities.
- Club or organization involvement on their school campus or community that promotes diversity and inclusion.
- Participates or leads in multicultural event programming on their school campus.
- Volunteered at events/agencies/organizations related to serving historically underrepresented populations.
- Attended conferences related to diversity and equity.
- Involved in sports or athletic activities such as jaripeo, lasso, pulling canoe for the tribe, referees for soccer games etc.
- Assisting in nursing homes, healthcare facilities and homeless shelters, donating clothing, feeding the hungry, helping in migrant camps, marching for peace, mentoring peers and/or siblings, raising funds for scholarships and/or world tragedies, translating for others, tutoring young children etc.
- Involved in Northwest Indian College Summer Program, Science and Math Bilingual Program, U-doc Program, Upward Bound etc.
Reasons to Nominate Students for Champions of Diversity Awards
What sparked the initiation of the Champions of Diversity Scholarship Program?
What is the nomination procedure?
How many students are nominated for Champions of Diversity Awards each year?
What are the scholarship eligibility requirements?
- High school senior
- Resident of Skagit, Island, or San Juan County
- Contributor to diversity through leadership or community service.
- Minimum Grade Point Average of 2.0