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Headshots of 2023 Para la Cultura scholarship winners

Introducing Aspire’s 2023 Para la Cultura Winners!

Aspire Public Schools is thrilled to announce the 10 inaugural winners of our Para la Cultura scholarship!

Established this year with roots in Aspire’s Core Value of Culture of Belonging, this award is given to seniors who were recommended by staff members for demonstrating strong social-emotional competencies, and who foster a culture of belonging on their campus and broader community. This award is generously funded by Aspire teammates.

Congratulations to these incredible seniors! Read on to learn more about these students, reflections on their time at Aspire, and their future plans. 


Headshot of Ariana Olvera Torres, PLC scholarship winner

Ariana Olvera Torres
Ariana has been with Aspire since 6th grade when she came to Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy (LWP). She looks forward to studying sustainable environmental engineering after graduation.

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: Last year during my art class, because we not only learned about the connection between art and our emotions, but also about the connection between art and the future of the current effects of historical redlining.
  • Her advice to younger students: Don’t stress yourself out about the future and instead enjoy the present. Things will happen as they’re meant to happen.
  • To Ariana, a culture of belonging is… one’s personal sense of safety and acceptance within a group or community. It is a place in which you feel heard, considered, and cared about but where one aspect of yourself is not seen as your defining characteristic. Where it is known that to accept you, they must respect all parts of you.

Headshot of Brandon Ocampo, PLC scholarship winner

Brandon Ocampo
Brandon has been an Aspire student at Alexander Twilight Secondary Academy (ATSA) since 7th grade, and looks forward to pursuing a career in automotive engineering after graduation.   

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: All of the fun rallies I spent with my peers. Aspire really helped me bond with my friends with fun events.
  • His advice to his younger self/younger students: I would tell myself to stop thinking that there is only solution and that you must say yes to everything that comes your way. It is okay to say no sometimes.
  • To Brandon, a culture of belonging is… making a place where everyone feels that they belong. Although people may be going through things in the outside world, they know that at school they don’t have to worry about being out of place.

Headshot of Einar Alvarado Alonso, PLC scholarship winner

Einar Alvarado Alonso
Einar came to Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy (OUP) as an 8th grader. In the fall, he will attend USC to study Intelligence and Cyber Operations! 

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: The first time I was treated with empathy and understanding by my 9th grade Humanities teacher, Mr. Gomez. During this time I was pretty reckless with my behavior and would often get in trouble; teachers would get upset with me, understandably so. However Mr. Gomez listened to me rather than lecturing me and through his solidarity I realized I just wanted to be heard.
  • His advice to younger students: Distinguish those who are there to help you from those who are not. The people you hang out with, whether with ill intent or not, might not always be the best people to be around if you expect to further yourself in your goals. Identify those who have the same ideas of success as you and stay with them. Also don’t be afraid of being your authentic self; if you need to change in order to be liked, then said people don’t really like you; that’s fine, there is a community somewhere that will accept and celebrate your authentic self. 
  • To Einar, a culture of belonging is… a culture of solidarity; where diversity is not just accepted but rather celebrated. It is one where we build our community through transformative justice and assist our peers in a way that best supports their needs.

Headshot of Gisselle Camargo, PLC scholarship winner

Gisselle Camargo
Gisselle came to Aspire Alexander Twilight Secondary Academy (ATSA) as a 7th grader. After graduation, she is excited to study biology at Sacramento State University. 

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: The times I played on the boys and girls soccer team. Working on conditioning with my friends in the spring sun was so fulfilling and fun. 
  • Her advice to younger students: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Especially at schools like ATSA, all the staff members are more than willing to help in any situation. 
  • To Gisselle, a culture of belonging is… when you acknowledge everyone’s differences but you still appreciate their uniqueness and how they help bring people together.

Headshot of Isabel Santos, PLC scholarship winner

Isabel Santos
Isabel has been at Aspire Langston Hughes Academy (LHA) since 7th grade. She looks forward to studying business after graduation.

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: Recess and lunch in middle school
  • Her advice to younger students: Believe in yourself.
  • To Isabel, a culture of belonging is… being able to fit in with any and every crowd, even if you do stand out.

Headshot of PLC winner Jacky Orucuta

Jacky Orucuta
Jacky came to Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy (Cal Prep) as a 9th grader, and after graduation, plans to major in animal biology/science.

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: My first day. I was a freshman and even though it was a couple of weeks into the school year everyone, from staff to peers, was patient and welcoming. There was such a strong sense of community that it was easy to make friends and feel like I belonged. 
  • Her advice to younger students: It’s okay to be spontaneous at times. Not everything needs to be planned out down to the most trivial of details. 
  • To Jacky, a culture of belonging is… not being fearful or anxious to be yourself, but rather feeling security in knowing you’re accepted.

Headshot of PLC winner Joselyn Alvarado

Joselyn Alvarado
Joselyn just came to Aspire in 12th grade, but has made the most of her senior year at Aspire Pacific Academy (APA)! After graduating, she plans to study business administration.

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: Going on college field trips, because they really inspired me to go to a university after high school
  • Her advice to younger students: It’s okay if you make mistakes, it does not mean the end of the world. You need to make mistakes in order to learn and grow.
  • To Joselyn, a culture of belonging is… being able to feel comfortable in my own skin, and to be myself without feeling judged or misunderstood. 

Headshot of PLC winner Lilianna Rodriguez

Lilianna Rodriguez
Lilianna has spent her entire K-12 academic career learning and growing at Aspire. After graduation from Aspire Pacific Academy (APA), she’s excited to attend UCLA in the fall where she will study psychology!  

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: Participating in Math Field Day for the APA middle school team in 6-8th grade. I loved the competition and was able to be on the team with my best friend. Our team won 3 times in a row against the other Aspire teams and was able to represent Aspire at the LAUSD Math Field Day competition. I will never forget the feeling when our team was called up for first place during those years. 
  • Her advice to her younger self/younger students: All the hard work you have been doing will pay off. The long nights of studying, doing homework, office hours, and even doing school work on vacations were all worth it. There will be some challenges that will be difficult and there may be those days when you break down. However, those challenges will not stop you from succeeding in school and life. Your standards will grow and your ambition will drive you. Never try to change for someone else and follow your passions.
  • To Lilianna, a culture of belonging is… when you feel accepted and supported by others. There are many different cultures and communities that we are able to be a part of. Exploring these cultures is how we find the ones we feel belong. Once, you find that culture; reciprocate the appreciation to receive with others, consequently, strengthening the culture of belonging.

Headshot of PLC winner Patrick Mulligan

Patrick Mulligan
Patrick has thrived as an Aspire scholar since kindergarten. After graduation from Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy (BHA), he looks forward to studying business administration.

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: The whole of homecoming during my junior year. It was my first year leading the event as student body president. From the set up, staying after school in the cold, and listening to music was an absolute blast. The final dance was an amazing time as well. 
  • His advice to younger students: Get involved and take on some responsibility. One of the most motivating things throughout my time in school has been being super involved within school culture. Whether it’s through student council, multimedia, travel club, or any other organizations, stepping out of your comfort zone builds character and friends like no other. Being involved in the school made me grow drastically in my leadership abilities and brought me to the point where I actually want to be at school the majority of the time. The reward in seeing our events get put together and little projects come about is something that I recommend all students do early on in their high school and middle school careers. 
  • To Patrick, a culture of belonging is… when every student is able to feel a part of a community regardless of who they are. Whether your interests or backgrounds are different, you are able to come together to celebrate and have a good time. A strong community is based on the connections between each person and you can’t have that, without a culture of belonging.

Headshot of PLC winner Yaribel Orozco

Yaribel Orozco
Yaribel came to Aspire as a 6th grader, and looks forward to pursuing a career as a registered nurse after graduating from Aspire Golden State College Preparatory Academy (GSP).

  • Favorite memory at Aspire: Going to college field trips every year. 
  • Her advice to younger students: Keep doing you and be on track. 
  • To Yaribel, a culture of belonging is… feeling comfortable with who you are and where you come from. It also means everyone accepting each other, and being open-minded to others’ cultures. 

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