O’Melveny to Honor 11 Los Angeles Students with Warren Christopher Scholarships

May 29, 2012


Julie Fei                                                             Andrea Rodeschini    

O’Melveny & Myers LLP                                O’Melveny & Myers LLP

213.430.7792                                                      212.326.2251

213.440.7792  (cell)                                       

jfei@omm.com                                                arodeschini@omm.com



LOS ANGELES, CA--MAY 29, 2012-- The Warren Christopher Scholarship Committee has again selected 11 promising, economically challenged students from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) high schools to receive the 2012 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, June 1, starting at 11 am at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


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 19-year-old scholarship program named in honor of the former US Secretary of State and former Chairman of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, who passed away last year, is a lasting memorial to Mr. Christopher, a tireless champion of higher education opportunities for disadvantaged students. The Christopher Scholarship program represents a commitment by O'Melveny & Myers 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 159 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.


Notable guests and speakers at this year’s event include Reveta Bowers, Head of School for the Center for Early Education, and several past Christopher scholars, including Alvaro Pacheco, Jr., who is now Deputy Press Secretary for Congressman Xavier Becerra. Warren Christopher’s son, Scott Christopher, will present the awards to this year’s recipients.


Here are profiles of the 2012 Warren Christopher Scholars:


Evana Ashan

As a daughter of immigrant parents from Bangladesh, Evana took on adult responsibilities in her family at a young age. Despite many challenges, Evana has maintained high academic performance, attaining Platinum Level Honor Roll distinctions, and taking a number of college courses in addition to her already rigorous high school schedule. Evana’s passion for community and helping others has driven her extracurricular activities, which include a wide range of community-service projects and the founding of an after-school peer tutoring group. She also founded a student council group for which she serves as president.


Wisdom Akingbemi

Born in Nigeria and to many hardships, Wisdom and his family emigrated to the United States in January 2011. As the eldest of five siblings, Wisdom has to find time to succeed academically while managing his daily obligations tutoring his siblings and doing most of the household chores. His math teacher marvels that Wisdom was able to acclimate to his new environment so quickly and succeed academically while taking honors and advanced placement classes. With the Warren Christopher Scholarship, Wisdom aspires to obtain  his degree in medicine and pharmacy.


Ayla Allen

In addition to being a mentor, youth leader, gymnast, dancer, writer, science and math tutor, violinist, and community volunteer, Ayla is a talented and dedicated student who has won multiple academic honors, including achieving the highest PSAT score at her high school. Ayla has faced challenges, both personal and academic, with a focus and purpose aimed at achieving her dreams. Ayla writes, “The scholarship Mr. Christopher received allowed him to receive the education necessary to positively impact not only Los Angeles but the world, and this scholarship would help give me the opportunity to contribute to the world as Mr. Christopher did.”


Taryn Chudo

Displaced from the Midwest due to her family’s economic hardship, Taryn relocated to South Central Los Angeles. On her way, she survived a tornado in Oklahoma. As a standout student in her new community, Taryn excels academically and earned honors such as the President’s Education Award. Despite her rigorous academic load, Taryn has found time to volunteer to help kids at a local park, pool, community center, and library, as well as to rescue rabbits by providing them homes as a member of the “Too Many Bunnies” organization. With the Warren Christopher Scholarship, Taryn aspires to become a zoologist.


Raymond Diego

Overcoming many obstacles, including being one of eight siblings whose parents immigrated from Guatemala, Raymond has become one of the most outstanding students at his high school. Raymond also has shown strong leadership as president of the Public Service and Social Justice Small Learning Community and as captain of the swim team. In the community, he volunteers to clean up the environment as a member of the Eco Warriors, and is very active in his choir. Being proficient in several instruments, he also teaches kids how to play the electric guitar as a member of Little Kids Rock.


Berenice Estrada

Berenice developed an aptitude for caregiving at an early age, nursing her ailing mother and managing the household for her younger siblings, while also excelling in school and beyond, including as captain of her basketball team. She is a stellar performer at her magnet high school, receiving repeated academic honors, particularly in math. Berenice also finds the time to participate in activities such as tutoring and track, and has taken on a leadership role in her community, creating and promoting a study group to help Hispanic students achieve their full potential. Berenice’s goal is to make an impact in the world of cardiology.


Jose Lopez

Despite family economic and health struggles, José has excelled in his pursuit of diverse interests. He has won awards and the respect of his peers for his jazz trumpet performance. He achieved the Principal’s Honor Roll and won an Academy Model Student award for his academic work, which includes honors and advanced placement courses. José’s extracurricular and service activities include musical learning opportunities, teaching computer skills, church outreach to the sick, and service to neighborhood centers like the Casa de Amigos de San Vicente Community Center.


Irene Trung

The first in her family to attend high school, Irene is an academic super-achiever who maintains the highest grades in her honors and advanced placement courses. In addition to her academics, Irene is active in student leadership and government, and mentors kindergarten and first-grade students in LA’s Best, an after-school enrichment program. Irene is also a tremendous support to her widowed mother, shouldering the more arduous physical chores required to maintain the family. Unable to attend college without financial aid, Irene wants to become a doctor.


Karen Vasquez

After the loss of both of her parents, Karen, along with her older sister, assumed the duties of running a household, including providing care for her younger brother, who has Down’s syndrome. Karen is an honor roll student with significant achievements in English, and her extracurricular and community involvements include leadership with the Associated Student Body, yearbook committee, Peer Leadership counseling, and Key Club service projects. Inspired by the care given to her nephew for a heart condition, Karen hopes to study medicine at UCLA and become a cardiologist.


Hannah Yi

As the daughter of a Korean immigrant growing up in a single-parent household, Hannah has faced more than her fair share of challenges, both emotional and financial. This commitment to academic excellence has yielded recognition in the forms of awards and stellar grades. Along with her participation on the volleyball team and interest in choral music, Hannah devotes much of her time helping other students. She hopes for a career in environmental science or ecology, and plans to begin key parts of her studies in Costa Rica.


Shao Zhao

When she was only six years old, Shao Zhao and her parents emigrated from China. Shao hopes to pursue a liberal arts degree in Political Science and Sociology. Shao devotes her time to the Los Angeles Center for the Pacific Asian Family, where she consoles and comforts victims of family violence, and assists children with their arts and crafts projects. Shao has also won numerous awards for her skills in debating.


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