2011 Winners of the Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship

March 14, 2011

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The California Charter Schools Association is proud to award $1,500 college scholarships to five deserving charter high school graduates at Association member schools.

The scholarship is named for Susan Steelman Bragato, the co-founder of the first charter school in California, a founder of this conference and the founder of the California Network of Educational Charters (which was renamed the California Charter Schools Association in 2003). Sue was one the first Californians to recognize the need to build a strong network of support among charter school leaders statewide. After battling breast cancer, Sue died in 2005. In honor of her unprecedented contribution to the charter school movement, the Association named this scholarship in her memory.

Rony Castellanos

Bright Star Schools, Los Angeles, CA

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Rony Castellanos, a student at Bright Star Schools, in Los Angeles, arrived in the United States less than four years ago. "I left my mother and sisters and everything I knew behind to live with my father in California in hopes of obtaining an education. Arriving in the United States felt like a rebirth. I had to re-learn everything: a new language, culture, family and a new life," Rony says. "It is my dream to study journalism and become an English/Spanish teacher. Journalism interests me because I want to pursue and report the truth about world issues that impact my community. Teaching English and Spanish is a passion of mine because I want to help those who seek a better life and understand others."

Christopher Bran

Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy, Oakland, CA

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An honor roll student since his freshman year, Christopher Bran, a student at Aspire Lionel Wilson Preparatory Academy says his experiences growing up among the crime ridden streets of East Oakland have inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement. "I want to help and protect people in need. I'm fascinated by the work that the FBI and CIA do to ensure this country is a safe place for everyone," Bran says. "Being robbed inspired me to work hard to attain a career with the FBI or CIA because not only will I be able to protect my own community, I will be able to help the whole nation."

Linda Pham

The Preuss School, San Diego, CA

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Linda Pham, a student at the Preuss School in San Diego, has been inspired to student medicine and become a doctor by her father's illness. "Because my father has taken care of me my whole life, I want to start to taking care of him and others who are in need by becoming a physician," Linda says. "No matter which specialty I want to choose, I am determined to give my full attention and care for all of my patients. With the support I have, I really feel that I can graduate from college and enter medical school."

Efren Rosas

Oakland Unity High School, Oakland, CA

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Efren Rosas, a student at Oakland Unity High School in Oakland was 10 years old when his family immigrated to the United States from Mexico City. In his first six years in the United States, his family moved nine times. "In Oakland I still visibly see poverty, access to drugs and limited resources. Prostitution and drug are evident and accessible as soon as I walk outside," Rosas says. "Seeing my community the way it is makes me feel responsible to help Oakland not be a community known only for its notoriety. My past experiences have led me to witness many injustices and I am interested in the root of those injustices, therefore I want to pursue a career as a forensic psychologist. By obtaining a college degree I will not only make my parents proud by being the first in my family to graduate from college but also be improving my community at large."

Gabriela Chavez

Community Charter Early College High School, Partnership to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools, Los Angeles, CA

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Gabriela Chavez is a student at Community Charter Early College High School in Los Angeles. The school is one many in the Los Angeles area run by Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) schools. Chavez has won school awards for academic excellence in English and World History. "My high school is located in gang related neighborhood...but this environment has never been a reason to discourage my path toward college," Chavez says. "My school's biggest goal is to help our students in the community to go to college."

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