This year, our winners graduated from Newark Memorial, St Josephs Notre Dame, Alameda Science and Technology Institute, Bishop O’Dowd, Dublin High School, Encinal High School, American High School in Fremont and, Granada, and Amador Valley.  They are headed to UC Berkeley, Howard, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State East Bay, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UCLA, University of Chicago, and Harvard. Coliseum Scholarship winners have all achieved academic excellence. Every one of our scholars maintained an exemplary grade average with several above 4.5. Beyond grade point and SAT scores which were extraordinary, including a high of 1540, our selection committees are looking for special qualities in these students.  The drive and perseverance to overcome difficult challenges, demonstrated leadership skills, and a willingness and commitment to help others. We are looking for that special student that every teacher, coach or mentor dreams about. This year we have found eleven of them. Of those eleven, seven are not only first-generation college students, they are first-generation Americans.


Yasmeen Chavez
Yasmeen graduated from Newark Memorial with flawless 4.4 academic record. Her straight A’s are particularly remarkable because English is not her first language. Yasmeen displays all of the grit and perseverance of our most successful first-generation Americans. She overcame her late introduction to the English language by camping out at the local library where she read, assisted, and tutored other students. She finished her junior and senior years with straight A’s in Advanced Placement English. As testimony to the respect of her teachers Yasmeen was selected to join the committee to evaluate Newark Memorial’s curriculum and programs for the WASC accreditation process. She has embraced the city of Newark through her tireless contributions and was selected as one of Newark’s Youth Volunteers of the Year for her outstanding dedication. Yasmeen was accepted at three University of California campuses but has chosen to attend Cal State East Bay. She made that choice to stay close to home, to help with her family, and because CSU East Bay has an excellent teaching program that will allow her to obtain her degree and credential in four years. She is committed to a career in education to help ensure that other students new to this country and without resources can achieve the success that she has achieved.

Khukheper Awakoalye
Khukheper graduated from Bishop O’Dowd high school where he had an extraordinary academic and athletic career competing on both the football and the track teams, all while taking summer courses at the Peralta Community college and working two jobs to help pay for his school costs and save money for college. Somehow he also found the time to support his church, participate in the Black Student Union and UNICEF at his high school, volunteer at the East Bay Boxing Center, and participate in Healthy Ambassador, an eight month program put on by Mentoring in Medicine and Science. After participating in the program Khukheper helped lead health workshops at elementary and middle schools that address nutrition, CPR, and mental illness in the Oakland community. Last summer, Khukheper was a participant in a summer camp program at UC Berkeley sponsored by the Rosetta Institute. The instructor in the neuroscience portion of the camp was a professor from Boise State University. The lecture material was designed for upper-class undergraduate and graduate students. The experiments were focused on neurological disorders including Huntington’s Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. Khukheper described for the committee some of the biology involved in these experiments inflicting early-onset Alzheimer’s on all of us. Khukheper was accepted at universities from the West Coast to the East Coast but ultimately chose Howard. It is, in some ways, a family tradition. He has siblings there. But more importantly Howard educates a lot of future physicians and medicine is where he wants to be.

Felix Dong
Felix graduated from American high school in Fremont with an A average and close to perfect SAT score. Felix embodies the spirit of the Scotlan family. His parents fled Vietnam seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Growing up as a first generation American was not easy for Felix. He suffered intimidation and harassment throughout elementary and middle school. His father passed away at the beginning of high school. Felix found the support he needed in the community of volunteers where he was embraced and came to realize that helping others would be his passion. One of Felix’s recommendation letters was from the Youth Service Director of the Fremont Rotary. Felix has spent three full years as part of the Interact Clubs leadership team. Interact is one of the few clubs in high school that primarily focuses on benefiting others. His leadership in Interact speaks a lot about his unselfish character. His high school requires 40 hours of Service Learning. Felix devoted 300 hours. Rising above his personal challenges through actively volunteering in helping others Felix has learned a great deal about people and social interactions. In the fall, Felix headed to UC Santa Barbara to study Communications and Psychology.


Annemarie McGreehan
Annemarie graduated from St. Joseph Notre Dame high school in Alameda and is headed to the University of California in Santa Cruz to study film and digital media. Annemarie’s recommendation letters described her diligence, tenacity, perseverance, and grit. These qualities do not immediately when one thinks of Santa Cruz, where they embrace the Banana Slug as their mascot, but Annemarie is confident of her choice. In her essay she talked about the strength she drew from her friends teachers and the community to keep going when she and her family were confronted with great difficulties during her sophomore year. Despite those periods of difficulty Annemarie maintained her extraordinary academic record will while giving back to the community. Following in the footsteps of her brother she took over the presidency of her school’s Habitat for Humanity club, organizing and recruiting students to create more affordable housing for those in need, and volunteering at St. Anthony’s kitchen in the Tenderloin providing services to the homeless. Annemarie has focused her chosen career on language and the communication of ideas through the written word. She is energized by the growing confluence of social commentary and entertainment embodied in a media saturated world. She comes by her passion naturally. She noted that her father loves to write…. So much so that he wrote one of her letters of recommendation. And it was a good one.

Armen Phelps
Armen is a graduate of Encinal high school in Alameda where he compiled a perfect academic record while participating on the water Polo and swim teams, performing as the drum major of the marching band, serving in the Junior ROTC corps (good training for the drum major of the marching band), serving as a peer tutor, volunteering at the Chabot Space and Science Center, and for relaxation played piano at an assisted living facility. Did I mention that Armen was an Eagle Scout? Armen has been accepted at the best schools California has to offer. He is chosen at UC Berkeley and plans to major in molecular and cell biology. He participated in a unique dual enrollment program in Genomics in conjunction with Merritt College where in the 12th grade he sequenced the genome of the Agamid lizard. Who knows what miracle that may lead to. Armen had an internship at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute where he spent the summer working with a postdoctoral candidate analyzing the effect of cholesterol size on protein absorption. That’s what convinced him to pursue a career in biological research.


Coming soon.


Sara Zamora
Sara is the first of our scholars to graduate from the Alameda Science and Technology Institute. The Alameda Science and Technology Institute, “ASTI” is a magnet school funded by the Gates foundation and co-located at the College of Alameda. Coursework at ASTI is a blend of high school and community college courses. Sara has taken classes at ASTI, Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College. It’s hard to imagine the commute alone could be accomplished in four years but she began taking these courses in the ninth grade and has completed an Associates of Arts Degree with an emphasis in Social and Behavioral Sciences. As her counselor noted “for someone whose parents have a high school education and his other siblings have not pursued a four-year college education, having a two-year college degree by the time Sara graduates from high school is quite an accomplishment.” To say that Sarah is motivated, diligent, and hard-working is an understatement. Between her sophomore and junior year Sara enrolled in a summer immersion program of Girls Who Code. She was hooked. She brought Girls Who Code to her high school where it played to a packed room and resulted in AST I having the largest number of high school girls apply to and participate in the program. Sara has a clear sense both of where she’s going and where she came from. She understands the struggles of immigrants and has given back to her community by volunteering at health centers, tutoring children at the grammar school where she got her start, and serving as a youth leader at her church, all while holding down a job, earning a high school diploma, and an Associates degree. Next year Sarah will be pursuing a degree in Computer Science at the University of California at Davis.

Alex Tran
In his essay Alex played down his talents and focused on his hard work. He does himself a disservice. In addition to an A+ grade point average, Captain of the championship basketball team, Captain of the championship track team, and Senior Class President, Alex was the kind of student every teacher dreams of. According to his Expository Writing teacher, in the classroom “Alex was not only an active participant but promoted the equity of voice that ensures that everyone is heard.” As Captain of his athletic teams his coach describes him as a “mature and natural leader who is tenacious and trustworthy in accomplishing everything asked of him with a smile and a positive attitude”. Alex has the energy, drive, enthusiasm, and positive attitude so prevalent in first-generation Americans. His list of honors and activities goes on for two pages. This fall he will be studying economics at UC Berkeley with I believe some coursework at the Haas School of Business.