O'Melveny to Honor 10 Los Angeles Students with Warren Christopher Scholarships

May 14, 2013


Julie Fei     
O’Melveny & Myers LLP   
213.440.7792 (cell)    


LOS ANGELES, CA--MAY 14, 2013-- The Warren Christopher Scholarship Committee has again selected 10 promising, economically challenged students from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) high schools to receive the 2013 Warren Christopher Scholarships. The scholarship awards ceremony, which is hosted by O'Melveny & Myers LLP and is open to the members of the media, will be held on Friday, May 17, starting at 11 am at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

This year’s alumni speaker is former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez, who was a Warren Christopher scholar in 1999. Pleitez came from a tough childhood in the Eastside of Los Angeles to a rising career in politics. He twice worked for outgoing Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and for the Obama administration on the US Treasury Review team and the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He currently is the executive producer of INSPIRA, an ongoing Web series featuring stories of inspiration from Latinos across the country and is supporting Eric Garcetti in the upcoming mayoral run-off.

While most scholarships are awarded to students in their senior year of high school, the Christopher Scholarship program is unique in recognizing rising academic stars in the tenth grade. Each scholar receives a US$20,000 scholarship, payable at US$5,000 per year during the four years of college. The goal of the program is to motivate the scholars to excel throughout high school—despite often crushing adversity—and to attend and graduate from college. The students use the scholarship funds to pay college tuition and for other educational expenses.

The 20-year-old scholarship program named in honor of the former US Secretary of State and former Chairman of O’Melveny is a lasting memorial to Christopher, a tireless champion of higher education opportunities for disadvantaged students. The Christopher Scholarship program represents a commitment by O'Melveny to these exceptional high school students to support them during their college careers, and is managed by the Christopher Scholarship Committee and the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles. To date, the program has awarded 169 exceptional LAUSD students with four-year college scholarships.

Many of the scholars in the past have attended high schools with exceptionally high drop-out rates or have lived in homeless shelters, foster care, or circumstances ravaged by drugs, violence, and extreme poverty. Despite these adversities, 100% of our scholars have graduated high school, and all but five have gone on to attend and graduate from the country’s most prestigious universities, including Yale, MIT, Brown, Duke, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and almost all of the UC schools. Many scholars are now teachers, public servants, doctors, and lawyers.

Here are profiles of the 2013 Warren Christopher Scholars:

Rawaa Alimohamed

Migrating to the United States from Sudan and Saudi Arabia, Rawaa Alimohamed is pursuing the American dream—a college education that will empower her as a woman and enable her to become a doctor. Rawaa’s dedication to education began early when, upon immigrating, she quickly learned to read, write, and speak English. She maintains perfect attendance, is a high-honors student, has been recognized as a rising star in science, and is an active member of her school community, serving the Eco Friendly Planeteers’ Club, the EduCare Foundation, and Community Art Day.

Dominique Dorsey

Dominique Dorsey’s high school named him its SAGE Scholar-Athlete in recognition of his starring roles on his school’s football, basketball, and track-and-field teams—as well as in the classroom. Dominique takes the hardest classes his school offers and excels in them. His favorite subject is math, and he dreams of becoming an engineer, pilot, and astronaut. Dominique is a leader in his community, volunteering for the Los Angeles and Pasadena marathons and for anti-graffiti campaigns.

Raven Freebird

Raven not only receives high honors and academic awards, she shows great commitment to her community. For years, she has volunteered at Covenant House and the Los Angeles Mission, helping runaway teens and the homeless. She also works with Aleteen, sharing “experience, strength, and hope” with young people coping with family members who are addicts. Raven plays varsity softball, and her teachers commend her for using her “education as a gateway to a new, better life.”

Mariam Ghattas

Mariam Ghattas came to America from Egypt three years ago—and, in this short time, earned a near-perfect academic record full of honors and awards, helped her school stage its first ever musical, and serves on the Principal’s Cabinet, helping to improve her school. Mariam hopes to become a doctor and—inspired by her family—to cure cancer. Mariam is an empathetic ambassador, serving as an Arabic to English translator at her school and church; traveling to other schools in an acting and singing troupe; and serving on the team orienting new students and parents to her school.

Kelly Ha

Kelly Ha is the only sophomore on Abraham Lincoln High School’s Academic Decathlon team and has dedicated countless hours to studying 10 new subjects—as well as her regular coursework, in which she excels. Kelly is a silver medalist on the decathlon team and also a devoted volunteer in Lincoln’s Key Club. Kelly regularly tutors students at her local library—even those older than her—and shares her limited food wither peers. She does this to honor her family’s unwavering support, encouragement, and sacrifices.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is not only a top student, varsity athlete, and musician, but he dreams of becoming a US Congressman and bringing peace to the Korean peninsula. Brandon serves in the Model United Nations Program, attended the National Convention on North Korean refugee camps, helps lead the “Liberty in North Korea Club,” and has sought out and met with local Congressmen. Brandon credits his success in school not to any special talent, but to his work ethic. His motto is: “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”

Peter Xiangyang Liu

Peter Liu moved to America three years ago from China, alone and with little knowledge of English. Studying 40 new words every day, Peter not only completed ESL in just one year, he now ranks first in his high-school class. He volunteers as a tutor, and with local nonprofits and the Los Angeles Food Bank. Peter is also the President of the Leadership Council, founder of the gay-straight alliance, and co-captain of his swim team. Peter’s greatest passion is photography, and he is rarely seen without the camera that was a special gift to him.

Ashley Noble

Ashley Noble has near-perfect grades and an excellent record volunteering with Youth Council, where she is a “natural leader.” Ashley taught herself to read at the age of four. She kept working hard and is well on her way to reaching her goals of becoming class valedictorian and pursuing post-graduate degrees. Ashley is recognized as a strong advocate for herself and others—always standing up for the “other guy.” She works an outside job and works at home to help support her family.

Kathie Paniagua

Kathie Paniagua moved to America, worked hard to learn English, and now is exemplary high school student, with top grades, perfect attendance for seven years, and a record of more than 1,000 hours of community service. Kathie began running marathons in 7th grade and has since completed four marathons and competed in state-wide meets in Northern California for her high school’s cross-country team. Kathie wants to be a doctor practicing sports medicine and pediatrics.

O’Brian Santos

O’Brian Santos’ teachers can easily list his many accomplishments—top student, “voracious reader,” sophomore class president, leading musician, devoted volunteer, and “consummate role model” to his peers. O’Brian is a member of the LAUSD All-City Marching Band and one of eight students chosen to perform at the Rose Parade and Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. After high school, he wants to come back and help the marching band succeed.

About O’Melveny & Myers LLP

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