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May 20, 2009 > Turnaround scholarships awarded by Kiwanis Club

Turnaround scholarships awarded by Kiwanis Club

Submitted By Shirley Sisk

On May 26th - at a dinner honoring students, the Kiwanis Club of Fremont will give out four $1,000 turnaround scholarships. Turnaround scholarships provide recognition and financial assistance to at risk high school seniors who have "turned around" their life after a disastrous start in high school. This year's recipients have overcome problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, abusive parents and guardians, poverty, homelessness, personal or family illness.

2008 Honorees are:

Crystal M. Nielsen from American High School was an at-risk freshman, failing several courses, getting detentions and into trouble at home ending the 9th grade with a 1.8 academic GPA. With counselor help she has come to realize that she is the only one who can help herself and has - through her sophomore and junior years - raised her GPA to a 3.6 in her 1st senior semester and has also coached the varsity cheer team. Working two jobs to help fund her further education, supported by her family and aiming for a GPA of 4.0 - Crystal has been accepted to Cal State University Fresno and USC.

Vasilisa Shvachko is from Mission San Jose High school where she learned from her mistakes in her freshman year, making wrong choices when she experimented with drugs and hung around the wrong crowd of students. After much soul searching and guidance from counselors she is now flourishing - improving her academic level and achieving a 3.00 GPA in her 1st semester of her senior year. She has dedicated countless hours to various musical productions is an avid runner, talented dancer and volunteers at the Tri City Breakfast program 3 days a week coming in at 5 am to help prepare and serve the less fortunate. She is also a student leader, a member of Leadership 2 helping to plan and execute key school activities.

Loi Tran is from American High. He became a gang member in 8th grade and with encouragement from some relatives - did drugs, alcohol and got into fights. After expulsion from Jr. High, he was marked as a gang affiliate. His freshmen year was difficult - having been stabbed and having several near-death experiences. The huge impact that was made on him and his family and other relatives when a close relative was killed by another gang made Loi come to the realization that he would end up dead or in prison if he continued on the path he was taking. He left the gang, departed from old friends and even some relatives and lost his bad habits. Focusing on education, Loi has achieved an overall 3.47 GPA with a 4.0 GPA in his 1st semester of his senior year, being in the top quarter of his class. He has been accepted into the Engineering School at San Jose State University and has become a role model for his little brother and sister.

Zonnisha White is from Irvington High. As a child - she was in and out of foster care and under the guardianship of her aunt, as her mother was a drug addict. Zonnisha discovered her birth father and chose to live with him in California. Until she came to Irvington, she lacked the support system to dream of going to college. Zonnisha has improved her academic GPA from 2.2 to 2.8, passing all classes. She is completing the Quest program, and continues to be resilient and striving to graduate. Despite being let down by many people in her life, she has determination and the desire to continue to community college and then transferring to a university,

These courageous young people have overcome tremendous obstacles and the Kiwanis Club of Fremont is proud to help them to move forward and achieve their goals.

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