Scholarships » Scholarship Recipients

Scholarship Recipients

2020-21 Scholarship Recipients

Selena Lopez
Selena Lopez 
​Selena Lopez graduated from YouthBuild Charter School of California's Fresno site in 2020. She is 24 years old and the mother to a three-year-old daughter. "I've struggled with addiction most of my life and I had to overcome many obstacles to become the woman I am today," Selena said. Originally from a small town called Firebaugh, Selena moved to Fresno "to start over fresh and to better [herself]." Selena is proud to say that she is now two years clean. "My #1 goal was to graduate with a high school diploma, which I did! My #2 goal is to the further my education. Since starting over fresh, I've crossed paths with many people who have inspired me to turn my life around, to reach my goals and to help others. I want to help change lives!"
Alondra DiazAlondra Diaz
​Alondra Diaz graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's El Monte site in June 2018. Alondra is a proud mom and frontline worker. She is a loving and caring person who loves helping others who are in need. She loves building a bond and helping her patients find the confidence they lose while being in the hospital. She's a fun person to work with and she brightens up the room with her smile. Her son always likes to remind her that she is "the best  mom ever!" He sees the sacrifices she makes every day to provide him with a better future. Alondra will be a successful Nurse Practitioner and the best mom to her son.
Gabriela Gutierrez PhotoGabriela Gutierrez
​Gabriela Gutierrez graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's East LA site at LA CAUSA YouthBuild in April 2020. She is 29 years old and a mother of two. "I dedicated myself to get my high school diploma and set a good example to show my kids that education is important in life," Gabriela said. "Despite attending different schools and encountering many obstacles I was able to accomplish my goal of graduating."
Seth Rodriguez PhotoSeth Rodriguez
Seth Rodriguez graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's East LA/ LA CAUSA site in December 2019. "I absolutely loved my time there and made ever lasting memories," Seth said. "The current and past staff helped me along my journey, always believed and never gave up on me. With the time I spent there and the people/staff I met I grew as a person not only with their help but with my passion to grow as well. I've never been happier in my life and as hopeful. With everything I learned and gained in high school I plan to continue my journey to become a veterinarian, it's always been my goal/dream, and hopefully help and impact people in the same way others have to me."
Marlene Castellanos​Marlene Castellanos
Marlene Castellanos is a May 2020 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA site at LA Trade Tech. She is 25 years old and a single mother to three children, two boys and one girl. "I dropped out of high school at 16 years old went to continuation school and got dropped again," Marlene said. "After eight long years I decided to enroll at Los Angeles Trade Tech College to get my GED. My professor asked me, 'Why don't you just go for your high school diploma instead?'' So I did." After enrolling at YCSC in May 2019, she graduated a year later. "I am thankful for both my parents' support, my school teachers and counselors, but overall my role model my brother." She plans to enroll at LA Trade Tech for the Fall and pursue her dreams.
Oneill PhotoOne'ill Ingrid Mort
One'ill Ingrid Mort graduated from Antelope Valley YouthBuild in 2020. She is the mother of four children, Jenny, Janine, Dilan, and Diego, who she calls her "greatest inspiration." She loves working in the area of management and considers herself an enthusiastic, competitive and positive person. "No matter how many things have happened to me in life, I believe that everything happens for good reason," she said. "I still believe that anything is possible. If you have dreams along the way, you will always find angels who will help you reach your destination."
Betsy RosasBetsy Rosas​
Betsy Rosas is 26 years old and graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's Hollywood site in 2020. She was born in Mexico, but her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was three years old. She's lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. Betsy is the mother of "one special three-year-old little boy who is the inspiration and motivation for it all." At Home Sweet Home YouthBuild in Hollywood, Betsy felt like she was finally able to stay dedicated and motivated to earn her high school diploma thanks to all the staff and teachers there. "I am currently seeking to attend an occupational center, whether it be West Valley or North Valley for child development," Betsy told us. "I plan to attend college pretty soon, preferably LACC, and if all goes well, transfer to a university in hopes that I become a teacher to give back and help my struggling low-income community. I just want a better chance of life for my son as well as myself."
Juan VillasenorJuan Villaseñor
Juan Villaseñor was just 16 when he graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's Moreno Valley site at Rising Stars Business Academy. "I'm blessed to get the opportunity to start my life early for my parents who came to the Golden State to make a better future for us, my brothers and I," he said.  "When I struggle, I just think about what my parents had to do, and then 'Boom!' What struggles? I tell myself." Juan plans to use the scholarship money to buy a MacBook to make college life a bit easier.
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Alizeya Burciaga 
Alizeya is a 21-year-old mother to two children and a graduate from the YouthBuild Charter School site in Fresno. As a teenager, Alizeya turned to the streets and ran away from home, which led to her dropping out of high school during her freshman year. In 2014, Alizeya got pregnant with her first child, Lais. Having her son encouraged her to go back to school. She attended a home studies program for a roughly year until she lost a close friend to street violence. After that, she struggled to make her home studies meetings, and a few weeks later her mother and aunt were shot. It was a miracle they both survived. In 2018, Alizeya had her second child, Joy, named after a close friend who gained her angel wings in 2013. Alizeya battled depression and anxiety, but she did not let that stop her. Since graduating from YCSC in 2019, Alizeya began attending her local community college, where she is studying for her A.A. Degree in Business. She hopes to eventually transfer to a university. She'd plans to own her own business one day, and she wants to help others build their own brands. As the mother of an autistic child, Alizeya also wants to work to better educate people about children with autism.
Jennifer Almost photoJennifer Almost 
Jennifer Almost is a 24-year-old graduate from LA CAUSA YouthBuild in East LA. Raised by a single mother, her family immigrated from Mexico about 25 years ago. She grew up in both the Westside of LA in Koreatown with her maternal side of the family and the Eastside in Boyle Heights with her paternal side. "I have faced many adversities to get to where I am at today," Jennifer said. "Going to college wasn't a step I had planned to take until I started believing in myself. Now I am currently enrolled into college studying psychology. One of my biggest motivations is to help myself so that I can help others." 
Emily Balderas-Alvarez photoEmily Balderas-Alvarez
Emily Balderas-Alvarez graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's East LA site at LA CAUSA YouthBuild in 2019 at seventeen. She is a proud Latina, born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles, where she was raised in a single-mother household. "I am a Spanish-speaking student in hunger for success and education," she said. "I am aspiring for great things, like my business. Through education I am creating an eco-friendly cosmetic line that includes: eye lashes, lip gloss, and skin care." Emily is currently enrolled at East Los Angeles Community College.
Jesus Estrada
Jesus Estrada, 21, graduated from YouthBuild Charter's Fresno site in 2019. He liked that YouthBuild was a place where he could grow and develop professional skills that could help him in the future. While he's been striving for success, he admits that it's been hard. "I had anger problems because I was always surrounded by violence and people full of negativity," Jesus said. "Everyday is a day to become a better person. I stay positive and find ways to make myself happy. I block out the negative energy in my life. I love to help others and seek for happiness and success." Jesus is currently looking for a job while he attends college to earn a certification in welding. He continues to participate in community events and encourages other young people to attend YouthBuild.
Ana Ibarra photoAna Ibarra
Ana Ibarra graduated from YouthBuild Charter's Lennox site at SBWIB YouthBuild in 2019. Prior to YouthBuild, Ana attended College Ready Academy, where she was given college level coursework. It became difficult for her there because she felt that she lacked the support she needed to be successful. She received C’s, D’s and F’s, and eventually dropped out. When she was out of school, her brother told her about YouthBuild. At first, Ana was intimidated by having older classmates, but soon she saw potential in the people and the opportunities in the program. During her time at YouthBuild, she saw a growth of her leadership, time management, and communication skills. Ana invested her new skills in the Policy Committee, where she was able to help others, plan school events, and encourage her classmates to have school spirit. 
Martha Magana photoMartha Magana
Martha Magana graduated from Antelope Valley YouthBuild in 2019. Upon learning that she'd received this scholarship, Martha shared the following: "I am grateful for your consideration and accept the scholarship awarded to me with much gratitude. You have no idea how much this means to me. It's very overwhelming to mention that, never before have I experienced something of this magnitude. This was such an emotional event for me. I called my parents, who reside in Mexico, to tell them what I have accomplished thanks to this school's support and my own efforts. It is unfortunate that my parents are far away from me, but I will keep pushing forward in college to make them proud. The best part of this for me is that this school and the opportunities here changed me completely in my belief that if you stay positive and give your all, only more positive things will come to you."
Niyah Page photoNiyah Page
Niyah Page, 19, is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's Palmdale site at Antelope Valley YouthBuild. Born in Granada Hills, Niyah is the oldest of her siblings. She plans to continue her education at Antelope Valley College, where she will major in Psychology. "I started YouthBuild in September 2018 and it was a life changing experience for me," Niyah said. "I am glad I had to opportunity to turn my life around and make something of myself."
Candy Renteria photoCandelaria "Candy" Renteria (2nd Time Scholarship Recipient)
A 2014 graduate of Compton YouthBuild, Candelaria Renteria was born and raised in East LA. She currently attends Compton College and is finishing up her General Ed Classes. She would like to transfer to Cal State Dominguez Hills and major in Public Administration because she likes working with a non-profit organization that helps young people succeed in life. She currently works as a Program Assistant at Compton YouthBuild. Being both a Compton YouthBuild staff member and alumna motivates Candy to do better in life. In her free time, she spends the day with her daughter playing games, reading, and coloring books. She likes this quote from Nelson Mandela, "We can change the world. It is in our hands to make a difference.”
Israel Sandoval PhotoIsrael Sandoval
Israel Sandoval is a graduate from SBWIB YouthBuild in Lennox, CA. He was raised in Inglewood before eventually moving to Lennox, and he credits his mother for his work ethic. Israel left his traditional school without earning a diploma and spent two years working until he got tired of it and found himself at YouthBuild. "It was new to me because it was so different from my past high school," Israel said of his YouthBuild experience. "I was learning about construction and finishing my classes and I was having fun doing it. I learned to like school again. I created friendships and was seen as a leader to everyone there. It kept me working harder than ever." All his hard work paid off because he is now a college student at El Camino College where he is majoring in kinesiology. "I’m doing a AA-T so I can transfer to a UC when I graduate from El Camino. After that, I want to work as an athletic trainer and help people be healthier physically and psychologically."
Febe Zelaya PhotoFebe Zelaya
Febe Zelaya was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and migrated to Los Angeles, along with her family when she was 17 years old. She had to learn a new language she had never spoken before and get used to this new lifestyle. She will always be grateful for having the opportunity to meet awesome mentors at YouthBuild that always believed in her and supported her when she needed it the most. She currently attends Long Beach City College, hoping to transfer to Cal State Long Beach her Psychology Bachelor’s Degree. She plans to use her scholarship money to pay for her books and college fees.
Veronica Carrillo PhotoVeronica Carrillo
Veronica Carrillo is a 2019 graduate from LA CAUSA YouthBuild. Prior to YouthBuild, she was working two part-time dead end jobs while renting out a single studio apartment in Boyle Heights. Veronica always had an understanding of the systemic problems within the communities she lived. Education is something Veronica's mother valued but never had the opportunity to prioritize herself, and due to health complications, her mother almost passed away twice. Veronica currently attends East Los Angeles College, where she is working on her prerequisites for Mortuary Science College. Veronica has one main passion and that is helping others through bereavement, caring for the dead, and bringing the family closure. Veronica can’t express how excited she is to keep advancing towards her educational goals. After finishing her prerequisites at ELAC, her dream is to attend Chicago's Worsham College Of Mortuary Science.
Gricelda AriasGricelda Arias
Gricelda Arias is a graduate of Mary B. Henry Academy YouthBuild in South L.A. She is 24 years-old and the mother of a 5 year old little girl. She left high school when she was 15 years-old after her father was deported. Her mother made the tough decision of moving their family to live in Mexico. While living in Mexico, Gricelda was unable to go to school and didn't have the opportunity to earn credits or work towards her diploma. When she finally decided to come back to the U.S., she thought it was too late for her to get her high school diploma. However, when she learned about YouthBuild Charter School of California, she realized she had found a second chance. "Even though I’m 24, I can proudly say I GRADUATED! Mary B. Henry YouthBuild made it possible for me to graduate, and they were judgment free," she says. "They believed in me, and for that I am thankful. I plan on using the scholarship money to buy school supplies and books that are needed for school. I will attend Trade Tech in the fall and I’m very much excited to start college!"
Christian ArnoldChristian Arnold
Christian Arnold is a graduate of YCSC's Fresno campus at the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps. He is twenty years old and the father of a beautiful two-year-old girl. He says, "All my hard work and continuous drive to excel in my education... will make me great role model for my daughter." Christian is attending Fresno City College, where he is studying journalism. He is an aspiring writer, saying, "I can't help but feel a huge excitement for the places I might go and the things I will do." When asked to share a message of inspiration, Christian said, "Continue to shoot for what it is you love to do; no matter what, you hold the power over your success, so never let a hardship become your downfall."
Oscar ArriolaOscar Arriola
Oscar Alejandro Arriola is a graduate from the South Los Angeles YouthBuild Charter School site (CRCD Academy). He thanks all the amazing people from YouthBuild for always believing and encouraging him to accomplish his goals. He is currently a freshman at Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is working towards an AST in Administration of Justice. His plan is to transfer to a Cal State and earn his bachelor's degree in Criminology, followed by completing his graduate program at a UC. His goal is to make his career in law enforcement at the federal level and make sure that he works for the people; after all, he is one of the people! He is going to use his scholarship money towards buying a car, which will cut down his current commuting situation and allow him greater time to focus on the club he is part of and study for his classes. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, paintballing, going to the shooting range, and volunteering at the Veteran's Village Recovery Center on holidays in Long Beach, CA.
Brianna BeecherBrianna Beecher
Brianna Beecher graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's Fresno site in June 2018. She is a proud mom of two boys and two girls. It was very important for Brianna to graduate from YouthBuild Charter because earning her high school diploma was one of her main goals. Now she is achieving her dream of furthering her education by attending Fresno City College. Brianna says her family gives her inspiration to pursue an education and fulfill her dream of becoming an ultrasound tech. Brianna said, "When I look back and think about the world I came from, I realize I have had challenges while growing up, but those challenges became inspiration to me in many ways. I have inspiration from my challenges to not let things stop me from doing what I have always wanted to do. I am going to fulfill my dreams. I also look back and I am kind of grateful for going through those things because without going through them, it wouldn’t have made me the strong person I am today and to want more in life and to succeed and to grow." 
Edgar GonzalezEdgar Gonzalez (2nd-year scholar)
Edgar M. Gonzalez was born in Michoacan, Mexico but migrated to LA as a child seeking a better life. He currently attends Santa Monica City College where he's majoring in Political Science. He hopes to one day become a politician. Edgar has been very involved in college and in his community. He is the Founder and Vice President of the Homegirl and Homeboy Scholars of SMC, the Co-Founder of Children Over Politics (where he fundraised $17,000), a member of the Brown Berets, and Vice President of the Associated Students of Santa Monica College. He is also a full time McDonald's employee and organizer with the Fight for $15 LA campaign and SEIU 721. He hopes to transfer to UCLA after completing his credits at SMC. He wants to change the world for the better and help the proletariat. He is inspired by socialism and his one-year-old daughter. In his free time, he likes to record and produce music or attend political events.​
Gloria GonzalezGloria Gonzalez
Gloria Gonzalez is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter's Inglewood campus at the Youth Justice Coalition/ Free LA High School. As a proud Latina from South Central Los Angeles, Gloria credits YCSC/Free LA High for providing her with the people, spaces and resources to survive the struggle within her community. She is twenty-two years old and the mother to a beautiful two-year-old named Violet. Her passion revolves around youth development and building alternative opportunities for youth to end the school to prison pipeline. She says that her inspiration to assist her community came from having an abundance of family and friends being incarcerated and very few resources in her community. Gloria was bullied mercilessly in middle school by the same boy, and after many months, she eventually stood up for herself. After she told him to leave her alone and stop bulling her, he tried to beat her up. As she tried to run from him and jump the fence surrounding her school, a police officer caught her and told her to climb down. The officer then told her he was going to arrest her as an example of "what happens to students who break rules." Gloria was transferred to another school miles away from her home and given a citation of $500. She went to court four times to plead not guilty, but at the end of the third court date her mom told her she couldn't take any more days from work because her boss was threatening to fire her if continued to miss work. As a result, after her fourth court date, Gloria had no choice but to plead guilty. This meant that she couldn't get a drivers license until the ticket was paid. This experience is what motivated her to pursue a career fighting for justice. Her future goals are to create a space where formerly incarcerated and system impacted youth and young mothers can create their own craft, market it, and earn their own income. She serves on the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, completed a program called Public Allies, and is currently attending Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
Skye JohnsonSkye Johnson
Skye is a graduate of Home Sweet Home YouthBuild in Hollywood. Skye was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Skye is the oldest of three and has two brothers. At fourteen, Skye moved back to New York due to sickness in the family. Skye attended an arts high school in New York but didn’t feel happy there. So Skye bought a one-way to ticket to LA to pursue a passion for modeling. At only sixteen with four thousands followers Instagram followers, Skye began to start a modeling career. Don’t let Skye's looks fool you! Skye actively does groups with homeless and foster youth. Skye said, "I originally had no desire to go on to college. Youthbuild Charter School of California and Home Sweet Home has changed that for me." Skye is currently attending Santa Monica College for esthetics and plans to transfer to UCLA for nursing. Skye said, "My experiences as a homeless trans non-binary youth fuel my desire to further my education and become a healthcare professional who gives back to the community. I can say from first-hand experience that many independent trans youth like me do not continue with school due to lack of finances and acceptance from their families and peers. I see very few trans people in the healthcare field. It is my hope to change that."
Naol KebedeNaol Kebede
Naol Kebede is a graduate of South Los Angeles YouthBuild (CRCD Academy). When he was in 12th grade, Naol left Ethiopia to come to the US, where he was able to earn his diploma at YouthBuild Charter School. Naol describes his experience at YouthBuild as the first step to his big future. One moment he won’t forget was the beach extracurricular activity. He said that all the support he received from the unforgettable people at YouthBuild will inspire him for the rest of his journey. He will use the scholarship to cover his school expenses and transportation. He believes every opportunity needs to be seized at the right time-- a lesson he learned from the people at YouthBuild. In his free time, Naol likes to socialize and get involved in activities that benefit his community. He's currently studying Biology at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He plans to be a great doctor. 
Tyler LangrehrTyler Langrehr
Tyler Langrehr was born in Palm Springs and raised in a small town in Arizona with his three brothers and one sister. While living in Parker, Tyler attended school all the way up to his freshman year of high school. During his time there, he played football, fishing, and riding dirt bikes, but he felt disconnected. As the months went by, he started to lose interest in school and wanted to earn some money for himself. He dropped out of school and took job after job for the next 2 years, enjoying the independence it gave him. I never looked back in that time and earned myself some independence. Tyler has enjoyed working on cars ever since his grandpa offered to teach him how to work on a car engine when he was 12. "The second I turned a wrench under the hood, I knew that this was for me," Tyler said. "When I spend my time under a hood of a car, everything disappears in the world and all that is left is me and the car." As time went on, Tyler started to question whether Parker was the place where big opportunities ever happened. That thought rang in his head every day for a month. He finally came to the conclusion that Parker was not the place for him to get the opportunities he needed. "What I really needed was a fresh start," he said. So he decided to join his extended family in Bakersfield, where he could finish school and continue his education. A few months after moving to Bakersfield, he found YouthBuild Charter School of California. After being out of school for three years, Tyler was able to graduate from YouthBuild Charter School after 9 months. Tyler had this to share about his YouthBuild Charter experience: "This school has helped me out more than I could have ever thought. It is also one of the best schools I have ever attended. YouthBuild has all of the public schools beat when it comes the staff and teachers. From the start, they have pushed me and encouraged me to be successful in school and in life, teaching me new skills and a new way at looking at life. I don’t think I could have done all that I have without them." Tyler is currently attending Bakersfield College, and he plans to transfer to California State University Bakersfield to study Mechanical Engineering. 
John RodriguezJohn Rodriguez
John Rodriguez is a graduate of the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps. He said that finally accomplishing his goal of earning his diploma was not easy and that struggle after struggle put him to a halt many times. He credits his father and mother for keeping him motivated. John is glad to say it was all well worth it in the end. "YouthBuild gave me the insight needed to discover my potential," he said. "YouthBuild saw what I was capable of and set me on a path to discover my capabilities." He explained that the insight given to him at YouthBuild has put him on a path that, until recently, he had not even thought he could pursue. Now John can honestly say he ready for the real world and making it the best for his daughter and himself. He is currently studying welding at Fresno City College. "Welding has always been an interest to me," said John, whose father was an avid welder who turned that passion into a career. He hopes to pursue a degree in engineering as well. "I don't know how everything is going to turn out, but I do know I am going to give it my all."
Alejandro SanchezAlejandro Sanchez
Alejandro Sanchez is a graduate of EOC Fresno LCC YouthBuild. The time he spent there was one of the best experiences in his life. Alejandro appreciates all the teachers and staff because he knew he could always count on them for support. Alejandro is currently attending Fresno City College, and his dream is to become a veterinarian. He will use his scholarship money to help pay for his college fees and other necessities. Alejandro is inspired by everyone around him at YouthBuild Charter School because everyone is trying to get their high school diploma and improve themselves. He has made lasting friendships that will carry on into college. During his free time, Alejandro enjoys spending as much time with his dogs as possible.
Nestor SanchezNestor Sanchez
Nestor Sanchez was born in Yorba Linda, California. Due to financial troubles during his eighth grade year, he moved to Fresno, but after two years in high school, he dropped out. "For two long years I was throwing my life away," he said. Nestor and his mom needed food, so he would help out at a community food bank where he felt like he was doing something important. After months of helping out there, Nestor overheard one of the staff members talking about a program where you could acquire a high school diploma and gain some employment experience. He said that his first thought was, “Oh my goodness! I need to act on this and ask the lady for more information about this program." She asked Nestor if he had a high school diploma or a job, and he explained that he did not. She gave him papers to fill out and the date to return for the orientation. Nestor was terrified to take this leap of faith. He said, "I was uneducated, so I knew this new environment was going to be grueling for me since I was very antisocial and I never had a job." Nestor said he had difficulties communicating and asserting himself at first, but he decided to focus on himself because he knew this new road was going to be difficult. However, he began to flourish at YouthBuild. As the time drew closer and closer to his graduation, he realized it was time to pick a career. During the previous year, he had served on the SEKI crew (Sequoia & Kings Canyon), which involved working in the woods all week during the summer. SEKI's specialty is to making trails from scratch, felling trees, bucking, construction of fences, digging trenches, hiking miles to a worksite, going into back country, and staying at that location for a month. After the summer was done, Nestor still didn’t know what he wanted to become. He asked himself, “What am I good at? What do I love doing?” That’s when it hit him, literally. "From that moment I recognized that I wanted a career in Fire Service," said Nestor, who plans to obtain a job at the Forest Service. Nestor's plan is to work for a season, save enough money, and then study at Reedley College. His major will be Forestry and Natural Resources. After finishing that program, he plans to work for another year at the Forest Service to gain the experience needed to join the Sierra Hotshots. "Well, at least that's my plan" said Nestor, "but life is life and anything can happen. All I know is that I’m going to try my best at everything that I do."
Alex VillaAlex Villa
Alex Villa is a 26-year-old graduate of YCSC's Fresno campus. Alex is passionate about skateboarding. "After 13 years, it has really turned into my second nature. I can’t go anywhere without my skateboard," he said. Skateboarding gave Alex a sense of freedom within himself that he could not find anywhere else. In fact, skateboarding has led him down a career path to become an architectural engineer. He chose this field of study for many reasons, but was motivated by the fact that his town currently has no indoor skate parks. "Coming from a skater’s perspective, it’s a bummer always trying to find somewhere dry to skate," said Alex, "and half the time we get kicked out because it's either somewhere we can’t or shouldn’t be skating." Alex wants to become an architectural engineer so that he can build his own skate shop from the ground up with its own indoor skate park. That way skateboarders young and old could have somewhere safe to skate and learn together and somewhere they can skate on those rainy days. Alex wants to turn the old buildings and warehouses in his town into something new that could bring the community closer together. "I believe skateboarding can bring together people of all races," said Alex. "There’s no discrimination between skaters, and I have met a lot of my closest friends because of skateboarding. My heart tells me I can create a place to bring people together through skateboarding." Alex is currently taking classes at Fresno City College.
Kenny AltamiranoKenny Altamirano (2nd-year scholar)
Kenny Altamirano is a graduate of CCEO YouthBuild in Lennox, who believes that YouthBuild changed his life. YouthBuild recognized his identity, his character, his potential, and his humanity and gave him the tools to be successful student. He recently graduated with his AA Degree from Los Angeles Southwest College and accepted a full ride scholarship to attend Cal State Los Angeles’s Illustration Program. He will graduate next year with his Animation. He’s used the scholarship to pay for school supplies and to buy a car to get to and from school. He is also a graduate from Streetcraft LA and has showcased his work at several galleries and museums in Los Angeles, including: the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park, and the SoLA Gallery. His inspiration is his mentor, Emily Bautista, and Aaron Scholl; both of these people have motivated, encouraged, and nurtured him. In Kenny’s free time, he loves to listen to music and read comic books.
Jessica ChristianJessica Christian
Jessica Christian is a graduate of Rising Stars Business Academy in Moreno Valley. One of her favorite memories was the week after mental toughness when they all celebrated with a barbecue and music. She plans to study animal science and use her scholarship for books, school supplies, and transportation. Her mother is her inspiration because she works hard for her every day, making sure that she has all the things she needs. In addition, her mother tells her every day that she should be herself because she is unique, wonderfully made, and able to do anything she sets her mind to. In her free time, Jessica volunteers, attends church, and is a part of a step team.
Alex CruzAlex Cruz
Alex Cruz is a graduate of EOC Fresno Youthbuild who initially enrolled because of all the great things he’d heard about it. Alex grew to appreciate his teachers at YouthBuild because he felt like he could always count on them to provide genuine support. He is currently working toward a degree in accounting and is using his scholarship to help pay for college fees and transportation costs. Alex’s perseverance is inspired by his dad, a double leg amputee, who, with determination and hard work, learned to walk on prosthetics. In his free time, Alex likes to play basketball, draw, and spend time with his newborn child.  
Amethyst EwingAmethyst Ewing
Amethyst Ewing is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter School’s Inglewood site at Youth Justice Coalition. A memory that stands out to her is the first community action event she ever attended. It was unlike anything she’d ever been a part of; although she didn’t know what to do at first, she loved it. Her dream is to become a licensed vocational nurse, and she used her scholarship to pay for classes at Cerro Coso Community College. Her inspiration in life is her siblings - everything she does is for them. She’ll do everything in her power to set a good example, make sure they have a better life, and show them that a person’s past doesn’t define their work. In her free time, Amethyst enjoys concerts, travel, and community activism. 
Sheila FonsecaSheila Fonseca
Sheila Fonseca is a graduate of LA CAUSA YouthBuild in East LA. She was born in Mexico, and is a native Spanish speaker. She appreciated the YouthBuild staff-- who supported her when she needed it the most. She said that even the teachers who did not speak Spanish worked with her to help her. She noted a specific memory of a teacher who told her he would help her learn English, and she was happy to know he had her back. She is currently enrolled at East Los Angeles College, and she plans to use her scholarship on a sewing machine because she wants to study fashion design. She also plans to use funds to take ESL classes or additional art classes because she likes to draw. Her inspiration is her mother because she sees how hard her mother works every day to give her best and provide for her children, including giving them a good education and good food to eat. She hopes that one day, she can give back to her mother, so her mother can enjoy all of the things she had to sacrifice for her children. Sheila enjoys drawing and creating fashion designs in her free time.
Erick NelsonErick Nelson
Erick Nelson is a graduate of  YouthBuild Inland Empire in San Bernardino. His favorite memory from YouthBuild was his first week. It was an exhilarating and joyful experience to be with a group of students who were all working toward the goal of their high school diploma. He plans to major in marketing or business administration and purchased a laptop with his scholarship funds. He finds inspiration in every person he comes into contact with because he believes that every person has something to teach him. In his free time, he plays (and loves!) baseball, basketball, and MMA. In addition, Erick is passionate about science and making a difference in his community.
Erick RodriguezErick Rodriguez
Erick Rodriguez is a graduate from Field of Dreams Learning in Norwalk. Though he has many great memories, one that stands out was a time they went camping at Big Pine. That trip was his first time camping, and he was able to build closer relationships with the staff and his peers. He plans to become an electrician and will use his scholarship on a trade school. His older brother, Juan, is his inspiration because Juan has helped to support their family since 16 and then joined the Air Force at 18. Juan showed him that they do not have to represent the struggle they’ve lived and taught him how to be a better man. In his free time, Erick enjoys paintballing, volunteering, and music.  
Beatriz VelasquezBeatriz Velasquez
Beatriz Velasquez is a graduate of South Los Angeles YouthBuild, which was one of the best experiences of her life. To her, all the staff are pure exemplars of love and care who are superheroes that make a difference in many young people’s lives. They are a part of her family for life. She plans to major in international business and used her scholarship toward her textbooks and book codes. Her inspiration is everyone around her because everyone and everything is an opportunity to find inspiration. In her free time, Beatriz enjoys poetry, volunteering, community activism, and learning new languages.   
Scholars not pictured: Jairo Ortega, Anaisa Ramirez, and Jonathan Solis 
Alina GuerraAlina Guerra 
Alina Guerra was born in El Sereno, CA and raised in El Sereno/East Los Angeles. She graduated from CÁLO YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter’s former Boyle Height’s campus) in June 2016. She is currently attending California Miramar University where she is studying Business. After earning her degree, Alina hopes attend USC to receive her Masters in Social Work. What keeps her striving is the promise she made to her grandma before she passed, which was to be the first one in the family to attend college, make it big, and get out of the struggle. 
Fernanda GarciaFernanda Garcia
Fernanda Garcia was born and raised in South Los Angeles. She is 25 years old and currently attending Los Angeles Trade Technical College as a freshman. She graduated and obtained her high school diploma from YouthBuild Charter School of California's South LA site at CRCD. She is proud to be the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma and enroll in college. Although her major is currently undecided, Fernanda knows she wants to be in a field that allows her to help others somehow. What keeps her going is the passion to become educated because she knows that with an education she can have a better future. She is happy to be surrounded by people who support her and motivate her to give it her all, so that she can obtain her degree.
Saul CastanoSaul Castano
Saul Castano is 18 years old and was born and raised in South Los Angeles. He is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. Saul is currently attending Abraham Friedman Occupational Center where he is taking a Graphic Design class. While enrolled at YouthBuild Charter, Saul participated in CODEchella, where he learned how to code in HTML and CSS. After completing his class at Friedman, Saul plans to enroll at Los Angeles City College and eventually transfer to UCLA for Graphic Design and Animation. He chose those fields of study because he finds it amazing how people can create different worlds and experiences with computer technology. 
Niko SalasJose "Niko" Salas
Niko Salas was born in Compton and raised in Inglewood and Lennox, CA. After coming out during his freshman year of high school, Niko experienced animosity at home, causing him to lose focus on school and his future. After three years of struggling to find stable housing and working jobs that were going nowhere, Niko found CCEO YouthBuild in Lennox. At YouthBuild, Niko was afforded many opportunities and grew into a natural leader. He graduated as Salutatorian of his program in 2013. After graduating from YouthBuild, Niko served for two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at YouthBuild Charter, where he was in charge of alumni relations. He currently works for CCEO YouthBuild. Niko also serves on the YouthBuild California State Alumni Council, which aims to encourage alumni and future graduates to take leadership roles in their communities by developing voices and action for change. He is currently attending El Camino College and hopes to one day become a director of his own YouthBuild program. 
Kenny AltamiranoKenny Altamirano 
Kenny Altamirano is from Gardena/Inglewood, CA and graduated from YouthBuild Charter School of California in 2011. A recipient of the Janis Matero Art Scholarship, Kenny is currently attending Los Angeles Southwest College and has only six more credits to complete before he plans to transfer to a four-year university to continue his studies in Art. His interest in art began at the age of seventeen, when he realized art was a way he could express himself. Art has impacted his life because it helps through tough times and releases stress. Although he has natural artistic talent, he likes that he can further develop his skills as an artist by taking more formal art courses in college. Kenny plans to eventually further his education by obtaining his MFA, so that he can teach as a professor in community college. He wants to be able to teach the history of art and the power of art. Kenny was the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend community college. He is glad that the Education Is Forever Scholarship Program is helping him make his educational dreams and vision into reality. 
Francisco MartinesFrancisco Martines
Francisco Martines is a 2015 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School of California's Inglewood site at the Youth Justice Coalition. He is currently studying Sociology at Santa Monica College. He hopes to become a probation officer to help youth like himself who were locked up and dealt with substance abuse (he is almost two years sober now). Francisco wants to change the juvenile justice system from the inside out and help youth that are system impacted to attend college, achieve their dreams, and make a difference in their own community. He recognizes that there aren't many Chicanos that want to be a probation officers, and he wants to inspire youth to find their identity and their voice so that they can be someone important. At SMC, Francisco serves as Vice President of the Homeboy & Homegirls Club and also created a substance abuse program there for students. He continues to work with the Youth Justice Coalition and participates in a men's circle group there where he helps other young people. Additionally, he works with Operation Street Kids alongside his mentor Jojo Sanchez. Francisco is also a member of the LA Brown Berets.
Amber DuronAmber Duron
Amber Duron is a 2016 graduate of CÁLO YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter School's former Boyle Heights campus.) While at YouthBuild, Amber won the Resilience Award, the Student Mother Award, the Outstanding Attendance Award, and the Little Steve Jobs Award at CODEchella, where she also earned a Certificate of Achievement for 40 hours of web design in HTML, CSS and Java. She also has a fantastic motivator-- her daughter. Amber enrolled at YouthBuild just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter, and it changed her whole perspective on life. Amber is currently attending East Los Angles College, where she is studying Computer Science. After completing her Associate's, she hopes to transfer to the USC Viterbi School for Engineering and continue her studies in Computer Programming/ Computer Science. Amber likes computer programming because it involves dealing with challenging problems. Amber's mother always told her, "If you love your job it's not a job," and that's how Amber feels about programming. 
Jennifer SacayonJennifer Sacayon
Jennifer Sacayon is a 2016 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. She is currently enrolled at Santa Monica College, where she is studying Chemistry. After she receive's her Associate's, she plans to continue her studies in Chemistry at UCLA or Pepperdine and eventually get her Doctorate. Jennifer credits her love of chemistry to having an amazing chemistry teacher who taught the subject in a way that was easy to understand. After her teacher brought up the fact that chemists got paid well, Jennifer decided to look into the job more and realized it would be perfect since she could make good money and have fun doing it. Jennifer also loves makeup and realized majoring in chemistry could land her a job working for makeup companies where she could formulate new products. Jennifer thanks YouthBuild for helping her overcome her lack of ambition and pushing her to do things out of her comfort-zone. According to Jennifer, "Once I found the confidence I needed, I kept pushing and pushing to better my work as a student. Because I am a strong leader now, I can advocate for myself, which comes in handy in college. With the life skills and traits I received from YouthBuild, failure is just a mindset that I have dropped and replaced with optimism and industriousness."
Aura XecAura Xec
Aura Xec is a 2015 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. She is currently studying Humanities at Pasadena City College. Her dream is to become a social worker. After she completes her AA, she hopes to transfer to New York University to finish her Bachelor's degree and eventually earn her Masters in Social Work. Helping others has always been a lifetime goal of Aura's. At a very young age her mom taught her that it was better to give than to receive. "There were many careers I could have chosen," Aura says, "but social work has a very special place in my life." Aura would like to give back to children who need help because she had a tough childhood herself. Separated from her parents at the age of 8, Aura and her siblings lived in Guatemala while her parents moved to the U.S. to try to support them. "Growing up I decided that if I were to make it to college, I would want to become someone who helps children. I want to help kids the way someone should have helped my siblings and me. If I want to graduate college, I know I will need so much support because I will be the first person in my family to ever take this path." 
Griselda MartinezGriselda Martinez
Griselda Martinez is a 2016 graduate of LA CAUSA YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter's East L.A. campus.) She currently attends East Los Angeles College, where she is studying Psychology. The daughter of immigrants, Griselda grew up in a very tough neighborhood in East L.A., where she witnessed on a daily basis kids getting jumped by other kids that were involved with gangs. Weekends were filled with the sounds of gunshots, and Griselda's parents never let her go out and play with friends. Griselda was excited to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college. After she completes her Associate's, Griselda plans to transfer to Cal State LA and major in Criminal Justice. Her goals and aspirations in life are to get a career (not just a job), own her own car, live in a nice home, build a family, and live a good life. "I know that in life the only way you can be successful is through education," Griselda says. "It’s never too late to fix your mistakes and refocus on your education."   
Candy RenteriaCandelaria Renteria
Candelaria Renteria was born and raised in East LA, CA. She currently attends Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is finishing up her General Ed Classes. She would like to transfer to Cal State Dominguez Hills and major in Public Administration because she likes working with a non-profit organization that helps young people succeed in life. She is inspired by all staff at Compton YouthBuild because they have supported her in any way they could and they motivated her to do better in life. In her free time, she spends the day with her daughter playing games, reading, and coloring books.
Natalie PinedoNatalie Pinedo
Natalie Pinedo was born and raised in the city of East Los Angeles. She recently moved to the city of Paramount about one year and a half ago. She will be attending Cerritos College in the Fall of 2015, and she is interested in studying and majoring in Sociology because her dream job is to work in the Probation Field as a Probation Officer. Her mother inspires her the most because she's a very strong woman who never gives up on what she wants. No matter what it is, her mother will strive for it and continue to work towards it until she has it. That's what motivates Natalie most; her mother shows her that nothing is impossible. In her free time, she helps her mom take care of her little sisters. For fun, she can be found at the movies, at the beach with her family, or just simply spending time with them.
Brian BlandonBrian Blandon
Brian Blandon has lived all his life in Los Angeles, CA. He attends Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is in the welding program. Further on, he would like to become an engineer. The person who inspires him to go further is his mother; she’s taught him to persevere through thick and thin because she raised six kids on her own. In his spare time, he likes to enjoy his days exercising and playing basketball, baseball, or soccer.
Michael LaredoMichael Laredo
Michael Laredo was born and raised just east of LAX airport in Lennox, CA. Currently, he attends El Camino College in Torrance and he is majoring in welding with aspirations of working in the aerospace industry. He has always expressed interest in technical things, such as designing parts, taking measurements, cutting pieces, and working on projects with his hands. Mr. Laredo passes by SpaceX everyday on his bus ride to school which keeps him focused on why he studies. His admiration for space exploration, which is made possible through human invention, is what inspires him to be part of that mission. Michael hopes to one day have his welds on the surface of Mars. When free time is available, Michael enjoys reading random articles on various topics such as nuclear fission and how heat and light is made in our sun as well as watching documentaries and tv shows like Cosmos.
Edgar GonzalezEdgar Gonzalez
Edgar M. Gonzalez was born in Michoacan, Mexico but migrated to LA as a child seeking a better life. He currently attends Santa Monica City College and hopes to major in Political Science and become a politician. He also hopes to transfer to UCLA soon. He wants to change the world for the better and help the proletariat. He is inspired by socialism and his one-year-old daughter. He is a full time McDonald's employee and organizer with the Fight for $15 LA campaign and SEIU 721. In his free time, he likes to record and produce music or attend political events.
Gloria CarrascoGloria Carrasco
Gloria Carrasco was born in San Fernando,CA and was raised most of her life in Inglewood,CA. She is currently enrolled at El Camino College and is planning to major in Cosmetology as a short-term goal and Fashion Design as a long-term goal.  She wants to use these careers to help and impact lives by exposing the true potential behind the beauty of it all. Her inspirations have also come from her teacher Ms.Julia and her advocate Ms.Maria because they have guided her to turn into this strong women she is becoming to help her succeed towards her future. In her free time she likes to re/create art, spend quality time with her loved ones and loves to take pictures/videos of her travels!
Sanjay StoneySanjay Stoney
Sanjay Stoney was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He will attend El Camino College in the fall of 2015, so that he can study and prepare himself to be a registered nurse. His dream job is to work in a hospital and help patients overcome illness and get them back on their feet. The person who inspires him is his mother because she is always supportive of what he does, and she knows that he always puts one hundred percent in the tasks he needs to accomplish. He also cannot forget his YouthBuild family, which motivates him to become a better person. In his spare time, he read books and hangs out with his friends at the mall or theatre.
Tylor SewellTylor Sewell
Tylor S. Sewell is from Los Angeles and is a graduate of South LA YouthBuild/ CRCD Academy. He is a current student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) where he is studying Real Estate. Tylor's dream job is to become an investor because he is interested in business administration. He is inspired by himself and his son. His son gives him hope. In his free time, he likes to watch sports, listen to music, and play with his son.