The B3 Foundation Announces Ten 2020-21 Future Community Leaders Scholarship Finalists
The B3 Foundation is thrilled to announce the ten finalists selected for our inaugural Future Community Leaders Scholarship.
Jose Alberto Avalos Berrospe
These students are in one word: remarkable. The group features students from nine different states, three “first-opportunity”* college students, and eight founders of various nonprofits and programs. The young women and men selected as finalists dream of pursuing careers in architecture, education, political science, public policy, environmental engineering, biochemistry and more. Their experiences, essays and interviews demonstrate a clear commitment to community engagement and leadership. Their resumes are impressive, but what stands out the most is their sense of purpose, optimism and pursuit of equity and justice. We are certain these are the individuals that will lead our communities into a better tomorrow and we could not be more proud to celebrate them and their outstanding achievements.
*The B3 Foundation is ever-aware of the fact that access to a college education has long been a privilege afforded to few. The combination of laws that prevented minority groups from enrolling in institutions of higher education and systemic inequality that has long favored white individuals in access to housing, primary education and the accumulation of wealth reminds us that pursuing a college education has never been an equal playing field. We celebrate our finalists who will be the first in their families to attend and graduate from college. We use the term “first-opportunity” instead of “first-generation” because it validates students and their families and serves as a counternarrative to the notion that because they are the first in their families to attend college, they are the first to care about or deserve a college education.
Denise Akabey is a high school senior attending Hauppauge High School in New York. A Turkish Muslim immigrant and the sole English speaker in her family, Denise has helped her family navigate daily responsibilities her entire life. Despite experiencing homelessness throughout high school, Denise managed to excel in school and as a leader in her community. She has volunteered at her local church helping the homeless, assisted in teaching English to non-native speakers, and volunteered with a children’s theater workshop. Denise also received an award for the Spanish National Honor Society program and has been a part of numerous clubs including Student Council, Ignition, and Best Buddies. She is interested in pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education and this fall she will become the first member of her family to both graduate from high school and attend college, continuing her studies at the University of Oregon. Denise plans to become a teacher, inspiring the next generation of students through education and advocacy.
Jose Alberto Avalos Berrospe
Jose Alberto Avalos Berrospe is a high school senior attending George Washington High School in Colorado. After immigrating to the United States from Mexico with his parents as a baby, Jose seized every opportunity available to him to advance his education and give back to others. Throughout high school, he was a leader with IBLA/La Casa, a student organization focused on creating school resources for the Latino community. He designed and taught a class about social responsibility and racism for his high school and planned YouTube videos on personal finance with the Federal Reserve. He has been a consistent member of Minds Matter Colorado, a college mentorship program for high achieving students, as well as Denver Mayor Ambassador, facilitating the mayor’s events and projects across Denver. Jose is headed to Harvard University this fall to pursue a degree in Political Science and Economics. After college, he wants to work in real estate development with a focus on social justice, helping create and maintain affordable housing for minority communities.
Avery Smedley is a high school senior attending Albert Einstein High School in Maryland. Throughout her time in high school, Avery was the lead organizer and founder of Students Toward Equitable Public Schools (STEPS) an organization working to address the inequalities of the school system in Montgomery County, Maryland. She also volunteered for and led numerous clubs including Black Student Union, Minority Scholars Program, Student Member of the Board of Education’s cabinet, Lifting Lives, Youth Creating Change, and Montgomery County Students for Change. Avery’s social justice and advocacy work caught the attention of the Youth Activism Project, a nationally based organization with international reach dedicated to helping youth engage in the issues that matter most to them. In 2020 she was hired as their first paid youth-staffer to be the Director of Youth Organizing, helping mentor student leaders across the world all while maintaining a 4.7 GPA. Avery will be pursuing a degree in Public Policy at Duke University this fall, with a strong interest in working on housing policy after graduation.
Aminata Ndiaye is a high school senior attending Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Passionate about the intersection of environmental engineering and social justice, she served as a Youth Climate Organizer for Sunrise NOLA, president of her Society of Women Engineers chapter, and a leader within SPROUT NOLA, a community garden that serves as a beacon for resources to improve our food system. She has developed programs for SPROUT as well as organized efforts to provide more accessible STEM opportunities for students both locally and at an international level. Seeking to provide more young people with outlets to lead within their communities, she co-founded the Youth Service Network of New Orleans which boasts a youth voter initiative, a tech initiative and an art initiative. She will pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering with a focus on environmental sustainability at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor this fall.
Alexsandra Casanova-Chavez is a senior high school student attending Hardaway High School in Georgia. At the age of 10, she emigrated from Mexico with her family, and arrived in the United States not knowing any English. By the time she was a high school junior, she was selected as a finalist for National College Match, received the Georgia Certificate of Merit, was a Questbridge College Prep Scholar, and was a runner up for the Page One Awards in Career and Technology. Alexsandra is the founder of Go Girls Cyberstart and CyberPatriots, a member of 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, and a team lead for Vex Robotics all while maintaining a 4.63 GPA. She will become the first person in her family to attend college when she pursues a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech this fall.
Alexsandra is passionate about creating more opportunities for women, particularly Latina women, in the STEM field.
Nha Khuc is a senior high school student at Highline High School in Burien, WA. Born and raised in Vietnam, Nha and her family moved to the U.S. in 2013 when she was 10 years old. She did not know any English upon arrival, but just seven years later she boasts a 3.9 GPA and is actively involved in her community as an environmental activist and leader. Nha has served as a Clean Water Ambassador for three years, co-leading the program for younger students the past two years, learning and teaching others about water conservation. In her senior year, she launched a Solar Project at her high school with the goal of bringing solar energy to the school and district at large. Her dream is to work in the conservation and sustainability field, running a nonprofit that helps people in underserved communities have access to clean water and provide education on environmental sustainability. This fall she will be attending the University of Washington to study Environmental Studies and Communication.
Connor Wright is a high school senior at Venture Academy High School in Stockton, CA. While in high school, Connor was an active participant in Mock Trial. He was named an Empire New York Mock Trial World Champion, received 15 Individual Mock Trial Attorney Awards, and named AP Scholar with Distinction Pinnacle Award. Connor created the Venture Academy Mock Trial Training and Competition program to provide mentorship and mock trial experience to middle school students in his region. He also created Students for Social Justice, an organization within his high school that focuses on advocacy and activism within the Stockton community. Additionally, Connor was a member of Autism Speaks, Advisory Student Council, LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Student Organization, and the Varsity Soccer team. He will be attending UCLA this fall to study Political Science with the dream of using his future law degree to fight for under-resourced communities, particularly against injustices within the education system.
Morgan Medley is a high school senior attending William G. Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. In high school, Morgan founded an organization called blackgirlsDRAW which works to introduce architecture to elementary-aged girls of color. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she hosted virtual workshops to continue this education, working with over 100 girls in the last year. She also launched her own interview series featuring prominent African American women architects from across the country. Morgan has also volunteered with NC NOMA, Project Pipeline, Camp Hip Hop, Architecture Camp, Camp LeadUP, Legal Eagle Law Camp, Delta GEMS. She is also a member of her school’s Black Student Union, Student Equity Team and the Step and Volleyball teams. Her goal is to study architecture in order to design spaces to support underprivileged communities – spaces like schools, museums, recreation centers and more. This fall she will be attending Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Chris Nguyen is a high school senior attending Ingraham High School in Seattle, Washington. A graduate of his school’s intensive IBx program, Chris attended Stanford University during the last two summers as a visiting high school undergraduate student. He has also completed sixteen additional courses at a local community college to enable him to begin research as a freshman in college. While in high school, Chris founded WA Helpers, a nonprofit focused on assisting high-risk groups with household tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, his group has helped thousands across his community receive groceries, tutoring, and other support. He also created Strings for Seattle, a successful fundraiser in the wake of a friend’s stage IV cancer diagnosis. Chris was the captain of his varsity tennis team and treasurer of the rocketry team. His dream is to complete a degree in Biochemistry in order to pursue medical school and potentially work toward a Ph.D. He will be attending Brown University in their Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME).
Saron Regassa is a high school senior at Rockwall-Heath High School in Rockwall, Texas. She and her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia when she was four, and her background has given her a passion for advocacy and community leadership. In her high school career, Saron was named an African American College Board National Scholar, Rockwall-Heath Scholastic Champion, Rockwall-Heath Superintendent’s Scholar, AP Scholar, and elected President of Rockwall-Heath IB class for 2021 and 2022. In 2020, she helped create a bill that passed unanimously in the youth senate and was signed by the youth governor. She is the Lead Education Stakeholder for BLM Rockwall, a community organization she co-founded to confront racial disparities and issues in her county. Saron is also the Director of Partnerships for The Urban Garden Initiative. This past year, she served as a WorkElections Fellow for the CampusVote Project, recruiting over 300 college students as poll workers and increasing poll efficiency in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. She is interested in pursuing a degree in Political Science. This spring she will become the first person in her family to attend college when she begins her studies at Southern Methodist University. She plans to study Political Science and Policy Making.