NSF Awards Thousands of Dollars in Scholarships to Graduating Seniors

The end of high school for the Class of 2020 came to a close in a way no one could have predicted. Despite the ever-changing world around them, the scholarship recipients of the Natomas Schools Foundation, greeted Board President Sonia Mercado and Board member Mariana Corona Sabeniano, with smiles as they presented a certificate acknowledging their hard work.

To celebrate the achievement of graduating seniors, the Natomas Schools Foundation (NSF) continued its tradition of awarding student scholarships to deserving students. The scholarships are awarded to students intending to pursue a college education and who have exemplified commitment in their academics and community service.

The NSF Scholarship Committee consisted of Mariana Corona Sabeniano, NSF Vice President Monty Maxwell, and NSF Board Member Brenda Borge. The Committee recommended and the NSF Board of Directors approved awarding ten scholarships, totaling $5,500.

The 2020 NSF Scholarship Recipients are:

Binita Mehta, Inderkum High School (UC Berkeley)$1,000

Sharod Nandi, Inderkum High School (UC Davis)$1000

Alana Smith, Natomas Charter School – PFAA (Howard University)$500

Isabel Gatdula, Inderkum High School (UC Berkeley)$500

Samantha Iraheta, Natomas High School (UC Davis)$500

Sonia Singh, Inderkum High School (University of the Pacific)$500

Tayybah, Iqbal, Natomas Charter School – PFAA (Sacramento State)$500

Timothy Dixon, Inderkum High School (Howard University)$500

Mariana Jones, Inderkum High School (UCLA)-$250

Marc Rodriguez, Inderkum High School (San Diego State)$250

Even though there will not be any crossing the stage, crowds cheering, group hugs, nor honking as seniors drive away one-last time from their high school, Natomas will still celebrate the Class of 2020. Graduates proudly display lawn signs with their photos or the name of their high school or future college.

While we will celebrate differently this year, it does not change how proud we are of our Natomas Unified School District graduates. Congratulations, Class of 2020!

NSF Awards $7,000 in Scholarships and 15 Chromebooks in 2018-19

Continuing the tradition of helping students enhance their education, the Natomas Schools Foundation awarded 10 college scholarships and 15 Chromebooks to students throughout Natomas Unified during the 2018-19 school year.

The nonprofit foundation was created solely to raise money to benefit NUSD students and staff. It relies largely on public donations and proceeds from the Natomas 5k, a community fun run held in April that attracts hundreds of participants.

Over the past three years, the foundation has awarded $23,000 in college scholarships and nearly 50 Chromebooks to deserving students.

NSF college scholarships, in denominations of $1,000 or $500, are designed to help students with outstanding potential and a track record of employment or community service defray expenses of a college or trade school.

The 2018-19 college scholarships winners were:

1)    Fajar Akhter, Inderkum High

2)    Daniel Atherley, Inderkum High

3)    Reshmika Mansukhani, Inderkum High

4)    Leia Getahoun, Inderkum High

5)    Koleen Matias, Natomas Charter School

6)    Kai Kitsuda, Natomas Charter School

7)    Calista Alan, Natomas Charter School

8)    Danniel Urena, Natomas Charter School

9)    Angelo Hinojosa, Leroy Greene Academy

10)  Alyson Kahn, Natomas Charter School

Fifteen Chromebook winners were selected from more than 60 applications received from students in 5th grade or higher. Candidates were judged on the basis of academic performance and potential, leadership potential, service to others and a need for a computer to improve or maintain their school performance.

Winners were Sofia Gutierrez, American Lakes School; Allyson Sizemore, Amari Kiburi and Trinity Aguilar, Heron School; Javan Dosanjh and Fajar Akhter, Inderkum High; Jada Foster, Natomas High; and Ahndiya Kiburi, Lydia Jema, Tayybah Iqbal, Rylan Rubiono, Aubrey McCray, Miya McDonnell, Kristina Baca and Angela Bustos, all of Natomas Charter School.

Please consider supporting the Natomas Schools Foundation to help other promising students in years to come. Donations can be made through Pay Pal by clicking here. The foundation is run by volunteers and does not spend a single dollar on administrative costs.

Purchases made through Amazon Smile, a website operated by Amazon, will assist the nonprofit foundation as well. Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to this charitable cause, and eligible merchandise you buy will not cost extra. Simply start your shopping at smile.amazon.com and designated Natomas Schools Foundation as your charity of choice. Thank you!

NSF Awards $7,000 in Scholarships for 2017-18

Twenty-eight Natomas Unified students received college scholarships or Chromebook laptop computers in May from the Natomas Schools Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to raising funds to benefit local students.

Winners of $1,000 college scholarships were Dave Khalasi of Natomas High; Sophanit Getahoun, Inderkum High; and Rebekah Shiah and Kalliope Zervas, Natomas Charter.

Six other students received $500 to help defray their college expenses: Bryana Castillo, Natomas High; Sara Brink, Raffaella Carrillo-Gomez and Lyndsey Tillinghast, Inderkum; and Tatianna Settanni and Madelynn Thomas, Natomas Charter.

Applicants for the cash scholarships were required to have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and, during the past two years, have served 50 hours or more in formal employment or volunteer service, which could include school clubs. A short essay about was required about lessons learned from that service.

The Natomas Schools Foundation’s Chromebook giveaway, titled “NextGen Computer Grant Program,” was designed for deserving youth in 5th through 12th grades who attend school within NUSD and need laptops to further their education.

Winners were Christian Clark, Annette Contreras-Buenrostro and Lashea Dean, from Natomas High School; Chidinma Aniche, Michael Martinez and Lily Valdez,  from Inderkum High; Shanina Thakur, NP3 High School; Zaiden Bush, Nevaeh Garcia, Ynaly Rivers, Natalie Sandoval and Niyati Sista, from Two Rivers Elementary; Aureliano Gutierrez Jr., Leroy Greene Academy; Anastacia Monroy, Natomas Middle School; Lamont Bufford Jr., H. Allen Hight Elementary; Elliott Gough, Natomas Charter STAR Academy; Akshaj Mehta, NP3; and Yahaira Ramirez, American Lakes.

Applicants were judged on academic performance and potential, leadership potential, service to others, and a need for a computer to improve or maintain their academic performance.

Much of the money for NSF’s college and Chromebook awards was raised in the group’s annual 5K community fun run – “Run For Their Future” – which will be held on April 27, 2019 at Inderkum High School. Donations to the foundation can be made on its website at natomasschoolsfoundation.org.

Natomas Schools Foundation Awards $9,000 in Scholarships for 2016-17

College costs can hurt, so the Natomas Schools Foundation is doing its best to ease the pain a little for a handful of standout 12th-graders.

The nonprofit group gave away $6,500 in college scholarships this week and plans to award another $2,500 in coming days or weeks.

Scholarships of $1,000 apiece were presented to Mateo Ramirez, Olivia Johnson and Owen Wurgler.

Twelve $500 scholarships also were given away, to Mikaela Carrillo, Madelyn Peterson, Sarah Jacobs-Luttrell, Alyssa Wagner, Brenda Hernandez, Kelly Anne Lumaquin, Melissa Loupeda, Brian Dudley, Maya Gorman, Keyleigh Nealon, Daniel Lan and Victoria Vera.

NSF scholarships are designed to further the education of students who not only have shown promise academically but have a solid work ethic and/or go out of their way to serve their campus or community.

Applicants were required to have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and, during the past two years, have served 50 hours or more in formal employment or volunteers service, which would include clubs. A short essay was required about lessons learned from that service.

Scholarship funds can be used toward expenses at a two-year college, four-year college or trade school.

The Natomas Schools Foundation is a nonprofit group committed to raising funds to benefit students and schools within NUSD boundaries. Separate from the monetary scholarships, the foundation recently awarded Chromebooks to 15 deserving youth in 5th grade or higher who needed them to maintain or enhance academic performance.

The foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser is the Natomas 5K “Run for Their Future,” which will be held this year on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Inderkum High School.

Fifteen Chromebooks Awarded in ‘NextGen Computer Grant Program’

Winners of Chromebook computers in this year’s Natomas Schools Foundation’s “NextGen Computer Grant Program” for committed students who need a laptop to enhance or maintain their academic success include:

  • Priyanka, a 5th-grader who takes extra Math and English lessons in her spare time to prepare for high school and college. Her goal is to become a medical doctor and find a cure for genetic disease that a very close friend – “he is not my real brother, but he treats me like a sister” – suffers from.
  • Charlesa, a top-notch 15-year-old student who has been very involved in her school’s Broadcast Media class, culinary club and cheerleading team. In her spare time, she volunteers for an organization that promotes a tobacco-free lifestyle. Charlesa’s goal is to “help my mom in any way possible” and “give her all that she deserves.”
  • Kush, 15, who tutors young children in Math and Scratch, which is a free visual programming language developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also enjoys programming iPhone apps. “Ever since I was 8 years old, I knew I was destined to be a programmer,” he wrote.
  • Yesenia, a 17-year-old high school senior, has a grade point average above 4.0 and plans to be the first in her family to attend college. Her goal is to become a social worker. “One day, I want to be able to have my siblings look up to me and say, ‘Wow, if my sister became successful, then so can I,’” she wrote.

Fifteen winners were selected for Chromebooks by the Natomas Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money to supplement art, athletic and academic programs for students living within Natomas Unified boundaries.

Two NSF officials, Anna Vue and Monty Maxwell, surprised many of the winners May 16 at their schools, handing out Chromebooks on the spot. Honorees attend six local schools: Natomas High, Inderkum High, Heron, Two Rivers, Westlake Charter, and H. Allen Hight.

NSF’s “NextGen” competition was open to students who attend school within NUSD boundaries, are in the 5th grade or higher, and have a minimum 2.0 grade point average.

Applicants were judged on academic performance and potential, service to others, leadership potential, and on their need of a computer for school-related work. NSF’s goal is to help close the digital divide and assist promising students in achieving their academic and career dreams.

Jason, 15, said his new Chromebook will come in handy for schoolwork, homework, and Internet research.

Kush, a high school freshman, said he has been hoping for many weeks to win the Chromebook and can put it to good use in the tutoring he does with kids.

Mia, a 5th-grader, smiled when asked if she owns a Chromebook.

“Yes – now,” she said, cradling her prize. “Because I have this.”

NUSD Board President Lisa Kaplan Buys and Awards Chromebooks to Students 

They’re awarded face to face, hand to hand, but NUSD Board President Lisa Kaplan’s scholarships come from the heart.

Each of the past four years, Kaplan has purchased Chromebook computers and given them to high school students who can’t afford a laptop and are tenacious in the face of adversity: They never give up and have overcome challenges to succeed in school and life.

Kaplan’s Chromebooks went this year to five students who have faced challenges ranging from dyslexia to poverty to chronic illness: Carlos Lavalle and Sheila Hernandez of Inderkum High, Faatimah Iqbal and Aisha Aslam of Natomas High, and Rodrigo Guerrero of Discovery High.

Kaplan presented the Chromebooks to each student individually April 20, surprising them by showing up at their school. Her message was that she was proud of them, they’re strong, they’ve persevered, and they’re winners, they’ll be successful.

Kaplan gave each winner a business card containing her private cellphone number and email address. If you ever need me, she told them, I’ll be there for you.

Sheila said that winning the scholarship “opened my eyes a lot more to see what things I can accomplish.”

“I prayed and prayed – and I’m excited,” she said of her new Chromebook.

Aisha was stunned to win Kaplan’s “Closing the Digital Divide” competition.

“I was in shock at first,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d win because a lot of people applied. But yeah, I’m pretty excited. I didn’t have a laptop and now I finally have one.”

Aisha wants to be a pediatric psychiatrist someday. Faatimah’s goal is to be a doctor or lawyer. Sheila wants to be an art teacher. Carlos and Rodrigo are undecided.

Kaplan’s husband, B.G. Heiland, pitched in this year for the Chromebooks. Applicants had to have a minimum 2.5 grade point average and were evaluated on the basis of financial need, academic performance, leadership potential, and courage in overcoming adversity. The scholarship program is operated through the Natomas Schools Foundation.

Kaplan, an attorney, sees a lot of herself in these kids – great potential, modest means. Her parents were not college educated, were not wealthy, and she worked her way through college, both as an undergraduate and at law school. She learned the value of hard work and the vital role computers play in a 21st century education, which prompted her to award Chromebooks via her scholarship.

“Many of our kids in Natomas come from difficult backgrounds,” she said. “They have continued to put education as a priority, yet they may not have the ability to buy a Chromebook, a laptop, which is so needed these days for success in college. So this is easy for my husband and I to do.”

Kaplan knows that it would be impossible to help every deserving student, but reaching out gives her great pleasure. She recalls words of wisdom she once read about making a difference in one life, one day at a time.

But the scholarship program is not about her, it’s about the kids, she said. “There are no words to describe seeing the look in their eyes when they realize that, wow, I applied and I got this – and somebody believes in me,” Kaplan said, smiling.

20-year-old Inderkum Grad Gives Back to Alma Mater with Scholarships 

Less than three years after graduating from Inderkum High School, Samer Dhillon owns an investment firm, plays basketball at the University of Southern California, is studying for a medical career, is co-founder of a mobile health clinic, and is giving back to his Natomas alma mater by offering two scholarships to Tiger student athletes through a nonprofit organization he created.

Dhillon’s foundation, “Deep Roots,” will provide two $1,000 scholarships to Inderkum student-athletes for excellence in academics and athletics. Applicants must be senior boys or girls who plan to attend a four-year college or university next fall. They also must be members in good standing of an Inderkum sports team who have maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher throughout their four years at Inderkum. Applications must be submitted by April 15. Dhillon is partnering with the Natomas Schools Foundation to publicize the scholarship opportunity.

“I want to give back,” Dhillon said of the scholarships. “I really learned a lot at Inderkum. It helped shape who I am.”

Dhillon said he naed his foundation “Deep Roots” in memory of his deep roots in Sacramento. “I never forget where I came from,” he said. The foundation’s website features a large photo of the Tower Bridge and the roadway passing through it en route to the Capitol.

The foundation’s motto consists of three words atop the website: “Empower. Inspire. Educate.”

“Sam Dhillon has a passion for creating opportunities which positively impact the lives of youth and inspire community collaborations,” says the Deep Roots Foundation website, adding that Dhillon is majoring at USC in Human Biology, minoring in Business Entrepreneurship, and hopes to purse a medical career focused on neurosurgery.

“His fundamental belief is that hard work is always rewarded and holds the key to success,” the website added.

While at Inderkum, Dhillon was Associated Student Body president and graduated as valedictorian, with a 4.5gpa. A 6-foot-8 basketball standout, Dhillon averaged 13.6 points and 11 rebounds per game,and served as team captain his senior year, according to a biography posted by the University of Southern California.

At USC, Dhillon, 20, has been named the basketball team’s most inspirational player and twice has won the James Zumberge Award for having the team’s top grade point average. He is doing Alzheimer’s research for the Department of Neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine. He also is chief operating officer of the Quest Investment Firm, a Los Angeles-based firm that manages million in assets, the USC website said.

Asked about the definition of success, to him, Dhillon said: “It’s about changing lives in the community as well as the world.”

Click here to apply for a Deep Roots scholarship honoring Inderkum student-athletes. Winners will be announced April 29.

Natomas Schools Foundation to Award at Least 9 Scholarships 

At least nine scholarships will be awarded by the Natomas Schools Foundation this year to high school students who currently reside within NUSD boundaries or to post-high school students who previously lived here. Applications are due April 13. Scholarships will be given to current high school seniors, and six additional scholarships of $500 are planned. Awards can be used toward expenses at an accredited two- or four-year college or universities, or at a trade school. Decisions will be announced May 16.

Winners must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and have served 50 hours or more in formal employment or volunteer service, which can include community assistance or participation in a school club or organization.

Applications are available at NSF Scholarship Application — 2016

If you have questions, contact Janine Trevino, 561-5288, or email her at jtrevino@natomasunified.org