Meet the Simon Scholars!

Back in February, the Simon Family Foundation came to GGHS to give the Class of 2019 the opportunity to earn a $16,000 scholarship. Many were taken back by the opportunity to gain the scholarship.  However, hundreds of students jumped to apply and fill out the lengthy application and  then waited not-so-patiently for a letter telling them whether they earned their interview. Sixteen out of over one hundred students opened their letters in early March to find a request for an interview where only nine students would ultimately earn the scholarship.  Each of them prepared themselves mentally, or at least tried, before entering a very emotional interview with many of the board members of the foundation, Mr. Osborne, and Ms. Pham.  After over two months of waiting, which felt more like two years, the finalists received their letters and the nine students celebrated as they realized their accomplishment.  Those students are, Quinn Bell, Kellie Bendezu, Luke Costilow, Emily Dinh, Eric Le, Kaitlyn Prickett, Carissa Odasso, Nghiem Pham, and Han Nguyen.  Each of the winners will receive a total of $16,000, $4,000 for every year they’re in college, a Macbook, SAT prep classes, college prep workshops, and a full-paid trip to tour the Bay Area colleges.

We asked the winners some questions to learn more about their experience so far:

  1. What are you most excited about for the scholarship?
  2. Was there anybody that helped you through the competition? If so, is there anything you would like to tell them?
  3. If you didn’t have to spend the money on college, what would you spend it on?

Quinn Bell:  

  1.  I’m mostly excited for the suit that i’m going to get because that means i’m going to look good.
  2.  I think she knows who she is, but I just want to thank her again for being through all of this with me and just for being there for me.
  3.  I’d buy a car, a nice car, because I want to at least look good while driving if I couldn’t spend it on college.

Kellie Bendezu

  1.  I’m most excited about meeting fellow motivated Simon Scholars from throughout California.
  2.  Thank you, Mrs. Blackstone and Ms. Stoner for strongly encouraging me to apply for this scholarship!
  3.  16000 McChickens, so I would never run out.

Luke Costilow

  1. 1.  I’m excited to meet all the Simon scholars one by one. The Simon Foundation chose each one for a reason and I’m interested in learning their stories.
  2.  The students themselves played a huge role in helping me. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The staff here also showed great support for me.
  3.  I’d give all the money to my parents because they would use it more wisely than me. They could use the boost.

Emily Dinh

  1.   I’m really excited to go to San Francisco with my friends.
  2.  Shout out to Suzanne Lopez, who believed in me even when I doubted myself.
  3.  Prom, a car, and buy everything at lush

Eric Le

  1.  I am most excited for our summer training and retreats. I also excited to grow more as a person through meeting more Simon Scholars and  exploring more opportunities.
  2.  Mrs. Laz thank you for always believe in me and support me. You are like a mother to me.
    Your spirit animal
  3.  If I didn’t have to spend money on college, I would spend my money on mission trips. Last spring break I had an opportunity to go to Puerto Rico and help started a movement for Christ at a high school there. Mission trips has taught me about different people’s stories and inspired me to connect with people through Christ and stories.

Han Nguyen  

  1. I’m most excited for the events that we will do over the summer and meeting other Simon Scholars from other schools.
  2. My family and my friends were there to help me through the competition. I want to tell them how grateful I am for them. Thank you for helping me get through the competition.
  3. I would donate to charity, buy my parents something nice, use it for gas and buying food, or save money so that I can travel around the world.

Carissa Odasso

  1. New people and adventures
  2. My parents helped me a lot. I would like to thank them because if it weren’t for them, I would not be the girl I am today.
  3. I would spend it on helping the world, feeding the homeless, helping veterans, and other people in need.

Nghiem Pham  

  1. The wonderful educational experiences that will allow me to grow as a person. And the laptop.
  2.  Many people helped me with the Simon scholarship. Thanks to everyone who helped me out.  Couldn’t have done it without you.
  3.  Books. So many books. And a slide rule. And a second desk to keep my clutter.

Kaitlyn Prickett 

  1. I’m most excited for the laptop because I don’t have one; but of course, the money is great too.
  2. I would like to thank Mr. Kim and Mrs. Sally Hickman for writing me letters of recommendation and believing that I could actually win.
  3. I would probably spend it on hoodies. Lots of hoodies. Maybe a camera, but definitely hoodies.