Natomas Schools Foundation Awards $9,000 in Scholarships 

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 March 31.0 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 15.

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 Jennifer Arechiga, 567-5430, or email her at jarechiga@natomasunified.org