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Celebrating Stellar Students

On June 15th, CHW celebrated the academic achievement of 6 VALOR scholarship recipients and 3 Achievers. VALOR scholarship recipients are CHW residents who have achieved academic success and demonstrated community leadership through volunteerism. The CHW Board of Directors created the VALOR Scholarship Program to provide Volunteers and Achievers who have achieved academic success plus demonstrated community Leadership, with an Opportunity and Reward to help pay for higher education.

Learn more about VALOR ›

Top 3 Achievers

Anh Le – Achiever Volunteer, Hillside Village
Kimani Cameron – Achiever Volunteer, La Costa Paloma
Ryu Sutton – Achiever Volunteer, Poway Villas

2016 VALOR Scholars

Christina_Gaspar_VALOR_2016_webChristina Gaspar (Old Grove Apartments) – University of California Berkeley

“At a very young age, I understood what it meant to always be in need of something. My family of six lived in a crowded, unsanitary apartment where we rented one room. At that time gang violence began to rise rapidly in our neighborhood and random inspections of border patrol officers around the city made us fear our own home. Fortunately for us, we heard about an affordable apartment complex (Old Grove Apartments) that was about to open in Oceanside and our next move was one that would change our life for the better. We moved to a new home where we have built a supporting community and a safe environment. I went to a brand new school where I found myself to be an outcast due to not speaking English. I would get picked on to read a sentence and the other kids would laugh at my accent. I attended English Learner classes that helped me learn the new language and when I started seeing results, my desire to learn fast grew. School became my safe haven and I learned putting in all my effort to maintain a high academic standard was achievable through commitment and at times having to sacrificing playtime and conformity for stress and sleepless nights.

Everyday I remind myself that I have the power to decide the outcome of my future and so put in all my effort in everything I do. Because of my hardships I have come to value the little I have and understand that life is not measured in how successful you become but instead in how many people you have helped along the way. I have been volunteering at the Old Grove Learning Center ever since I could begin to help. Being a resident made it easier for me to be at the learning center every second I had free. The most fulfilling experience I have had as a volunteer is being the Running Readers Coach at the center. For three years I have seen a group of kids grow and expand their potential as readers and writers. The experiences I have had at the center have given me a motivation to stay as I have learned not only things about myself but also have learned from the people I am surrounded with.

With the support of the CHW Valor Scholarship I will be able to attend the University of California, Berkeley and earn a degree in either Legal Studies or Political Science. I plan on becoming a Washington Correspondent or a lawyer for a government organization.”


Erick Hernandez (North Santa Fe Apartments) – Palomar College

“I am an eighteen year old high school senior at Guajome Park Academy in Vista. I’m a first generation college student. I am very passionate about continuing my education and getting a degree to become someone who makes a change in the community. I really like teaching and showing other what I know. I’m a passionate, optimistic & a dedicated teen who takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm and see to it that I complete my education in high school and next in college. I have a great amount of perseverance to achieve my goal. My family has helped me stay on track and go in the right direction through all the hard times. I’m excited to go to college because I will be first in my family and I want to pursue my dream. I am positive that being passionate and determined will help me get where I want to be in life.

As a volunteer in the learning center I have learned a lot, and to this day I still do. I have learned that the kids in the learning center are my top priority, which keeps me moving every single day. Knowing I can help make them brighter makes me want to spend more time with the kids. If I can help the kids in the learning center they will become successful in school and in the future. I learned that communication is very important when there’s a problem in the way, especially with the little ones and other teens who really need guidance and support. Learning that has benefited me personally in school and outside in the real world. In school I am able to communicate with my peers and teachers especially when we collaborate on a piece of work or simply help each other out when one needs help. In the real world I am able to have a connection with another person which turns out into a positive result because we suddenly become friends and a trust is built. Over the few months I have been able to show who I can be and do what I enjoy doing knowing I can make a change if I help others out. The community has become part of me and my family.The community is something I love and it does not only help others learn, but it also helps me learn. Overall the community has benefited me by expanding my opportunities for helping others and making a positive change.

I am very proud to say that I have graduated from high school and that now I will attend college, pursuing the dream of becoming a lawyer. I will attend Palomar Community College this fall and I plan to transfer to a UC or CSU after two years.”

Albert_LeAlbert Le (Hillside Village Apartments) – University of California San Diego

“I am an Asian-American that is of Vietnamese ancestry. My parents came to America in the 1970’s in search of a new life free from dictatorship. Since then, my father and mother have split and I currently live with my mother and my sister. Though my mother was not able to attend college, she has encouraged my sister and me to do so. She has provided me with plentiful opportunities to be successful in life through her love and care. I am proud to be carrying my mother’s dreams into college this upcoming fall, because I know what a proud and exciting moment it will be for my family. She does not expect me to be perfect, but she knows that if I work my hardest and put all of my effort, that I will be satisfied, and that is all that she is looking for.

What the volunteering experience has showed me is that even though everyone learns differently, everyone is smart. It amazes me how fast people catch on to new information or learn from what I teach them. Being an Achiever has helped me realize that everyone is equal in intelligence. Also, as an Achiever, I was not just an educational volunteer, but I helped students with memorizing speeches, creating projects, and studying. This was to ensure that everyone had opportunities to do well in school and receive a good education. I truly believe that being an Achiever was a very enriching experience because while the students learned from me, I learned from them, too. I was able to appreciate helping them while they were appreciative being helped.

I am thrilled to be attending college because I believe it will open more academic and social opportunities for me. I will be able to expand my education and meet new people at the same time. My dream is to explore space through scientific research, but I also want to make notable discoveries that will impact everyone. I hope that college will help me narrow my interests, so that I can continue on the path that I want to follow. If I change what I want to do, I am glad that I will have time to do so. For now, I will be attending University of California, San Diego with a major in Physics.”


Claire_LeDevic_VALOR_2016_webClaire LeDevic (Solara Apartments) – Palomar College

“My name is Claire LeDevic, I am 16 years old, and I’m a junior in high school. Although I am a junior, I will be graduating this year, because I got ahead after taking college courses throughout high school.

Growing up in such a great community (at Solara Apartments), it influenced me to give back to my community. When I was younger, I used to go to the learning center, and get help on homework, and do activities, or play games, it was always such a welcoming place to be. I got involved in the junior leaders program when I was in middle school, which helped me get good training to be a better leader. I was so grateful for all the help, knowledge, and confidence that this provided me, so as I got older, I wanted to give back, and I started volunteering at the learning center. I’ve volunteered as a runner readers leader, I have helped make mats for the homeless, helped out with a canned food drives, I went to the CLI convention in Kentucky, and learned how to be a better activist in my community. I also helped make toys for animals in the animal shelter, I ran a marathon for AIDS awareness, and I provided childcare, for ESL students that received tutoring at the Solara Learning Center. Following with other volunteer work within my high school, for example, being a secretary for ASB my sophomore year, we raised money for the school to help provide them with new equipment. I am the lead guitarist in the youth group band at my church, and I’m also apart of the welcoming committee. I also got involved in the resident popular leader training, and it taught me more about how the political process works in my community, and it inspired me to find ways I can improve my community for the better. I really enjoy volunteering at the learning center, and I always look forward to helping out the students, and improving their academic skills.

I will be involved in my community for the rest of my life, and I will always look out for better ways to help out others. I’m grateful for all of the leadership skills and opportunities that I have received while working with CHW.”


Adriana_Martinez_webAdriana Martinez (Poway Villas Apartments) – Palomar College

“My name is Adriana Martinez, and I am a senior at Poway High School. Growing up with parents who didn’t speak English was a struggle in our family. My parents immigrated to the United States for a better way of life. As a child, it was difficult because they weren’t able to help me or my siblings with school work. It was always my parent’s hope that all the kids would go to college and receive a further education. My parents have always told us they want us to have something better than what they did when they lived in Mexico. I want that life. I want to make my parents proud and help them as much as I can. They have always tried to give me and my siblings everything they could, even if it wasn’t much. Coming from a low income home, we have had many struggles, all of which involved money. For me to break the cycle of poverty, I need to go to college. Being away from my parents will be something new for all of us, but they know it’s something that I have to do. It’s somethings I’ve worked hard for. My parents aren’t able to support me financially through college. Even if they wanted to, it would be difficult because I have three more siblings they need to take care of.

My experience as an achiever has changed me in so many ways. Before becoming an achiever I was a very shy person who really didn’t speak up. Being an achiever has built my confidence over the years. I can now hold a conversation with someone I just meet, I speak up in class, I advocate for myself, and I can comfortably speak out about topics I am passionate about. When I first became an achiever, I knew a few of the students, but had never really spoken with them. Everyone made me feel welcome by involving me in conversations, planning and decision making. I was invited to all the events Mrs. Alison would hold: college tours, beach clean-up, the Miramar Police Academy, the financial workshops, and all of the college prep classes.

I will be attending Palomar College in the fall to pursue a degree in criminal justice. I’m excited to be the first generation in my family to attend college. Furthering my education will help me to achieve my goals and dreams, make my parents extremely proud, and set me up for a successful future on the workforce.”


Arianna Murillo (Cedar/Nettleton Apartments) – California State University San Marcos

“My name is Arianna Murillo and I am a senior at El Camino High School. I have been volunteering for Community HousingWorks since 2012 as well as North County Lifeline since middle school. I have dedicated a lot of time towards helping other students and families because I can understand their hardships. I myself live in a CHW unit and all of us have a similar mission, and that is to become better people for our community. I value my experience with the families I have met and I plan to volunteer longer because I am going to a college near by. As a CHW Achiever, I have learned that there are multiple ways of learning and teaching which will benefit me as an educator in a few years.

I will be attending Cal State San Marcos in the Fall. I will be studying criminology. Receiving this award is an honor, it means that someone else believes in me. I hope to inspire my siblings and community by demonstrating that a degree and a higher education is possible. With the help of the CHW Valor Scholarship, I will be the first in my family to attend a four year university.”

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