Class of 2016 Juanita Haugen -
High School Community of Character Awards
From Amador Valley High School’s Class of 2016, Smitha Nagar is the scholarship winner. She is the daughter of Arathi and Niranjan Nagar. The Foothill High School scholarship recipient is Miguel Negrete, son of Eve and Miguel Negrete. As in past years, the Village High School recipient will not be announced until their graduation ceremony in June.
In her junior year, as co-president of ACE Coding club, Smitha Nagar organized Code Day, an event that featured free workshops to help middle and high school students get interested in computer science. Smitha contacted more than 30 companies to line up professionals to teach the workshops. Her publicity outreach included schools throughout the Bay Area. Besides learning organizational and time management skills, Smitha said she was gratified because “I was able to inspire future generations of programmers.”
This year, Smitha has obtained a grant to launch Speak Up, an organization to help middle school girls develop public speaking skills. The program will begin in January. Smitha attributes her own growth in public speaking to her participation in the DECA marketing club, where she has won regional and international awards. As a youth ambassador for Akshaya Patra, Smitha has helped raise funds to fight malnutrition in India by providing lunches for young students at their school.
Smitha’s parents were from India. “They have always had a difficult life and had to work hard… their perseverance has had a huge impact on me… I feel the responsibility to work hard and pay them back for what they’ve done for us”. She said, “I find it incredibly important to be nice to those around me because anyone could be having a terrible day and the slightest wave or hello could brighten it”.
Miguel Negrete of Foothill High School aspires to be the first in his family to attend college. His volunteer work has included the Feral Cat Foundation in Dublin and the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Pleasanton. “I like to be an active member of my community,” he wrote, “because it shows how much I care for it and value it as my safe environment in which I live.”
He said, “Love and kindness are qualities that can make a person’s life completely change. One time my friend and I bought a warm meal for a homeless person instead of giving them money and the individual was so grateful. It made me happy to help someone in need and the good feeling of a selfless act was indescribable.”
He has volunteered at many places because he likes to be engaging in his community while also feeling good from helping out in the town he lives in.
"My personal character is something that I strongly value because I believe that a person is made up by their values, their opinion, essentially their voice. I'm proud of my family and my culture because it has shaped me into the person that I am today".
Harita Udayashankar, Village High School
Graduating senior Harita Udayashankar is a great example of the traits that represent Pleasanton’s Community of Character. She has been recognized by Village teachers throughout the school year for her high level of respect that she imparts to all. She is also a great example of someone who is responsible and full of self-respect. In addition to earning high marks in all of her classes, she never hesitates to go above and beyond to help classmates and others in need. Finally, Harita served her community and beyond this school year by earning all of her service hours through numerous trips to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco and working in Harvest Park’s school garden. She has been an asset to the senior class and serves as a perfect example of what this scholarship represents.
Jalyssa Raygoza, Village High School
Graduating senior Jalyssa Raygoza is also a great example of the traits that represent Pleasanton’s Community of Character. At the start of this school year, Jalyssa was unanimously selected by teachers and administration to serve as the Student Board Member for Village High School. In addition to these duties, Jalyssa earned high marks in all of her classes and was a top-performing student in Leadership. Her many responsibilities in this class included organizing all campus activities, including Spirit Week, barbecues and all assemblies. She quickly became a student leader at Village and is considered one of the friendliest, hardest-working students on campus. She has been an asset to the entire school and also serves as a stellar example of what the Juanita Haugen scholarship embodies.