fbpx Skip to Main Content
Headshots of 2023 Shining Stars scholarship winners

Introducing Aspire’s 2023 Shining Stars Winners!

Aspire Public Schools is thrilled to announce our 2023 Shining Stars!

Anchored in Aspire’s Core Value of Agency + Self-determination, this award is given to one senior from each of our secondary schools. Winners demonstrate tenacity in pursuit of their post-secondary goals, and are heavily involved in their school and wider communities. Thank you to our generous supporters Richard and Theresa Crocker, who have made this award possible since 2015!

Congratulations to these incredible seniors, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish! Check out the highlight video below and read on to learn more about these students, reflections on their time at Aspire, and their future plans.


Bryan Buenrostro
Bryan has been with Aspire since 6th grade when he came to Aspire Golden State College Preparatory Academy. In the fall, Bryan will be studying architecture at UC Davis.

  • His favorite memory at Aspire: Going around school and being recognized by almost everyone and being able to start new conversations with anybody, forming new friendships. 
  • His advice to younger students: Live life in the moment because time goes by, and by the time you know it, high school is over and so are prom, hanging out with friends, and the simple high school experience you can not get back. 
  • In his post-secondary life, Bryan is most excited about… following my dream career and living the college lifestyle. 

Jared Lazo
Jared came to Aspire Langston Hughes Academy as a 6th grader. After graduation, he is excited to study music. 

  • His favorite memory at Aspire: Visiting various colleges for a field trip this year. It was a bittersweet moment hearing my peers laughing and joking on the bus for what will be one of our last memories in which we are all together in one space. 
  • His advice to younger students: Just enjoy yourself. Talk to new people, listen to new music, eat new foods, learn new skills, immerse yourself in meaningful hobbies and experiences, and prioritize your relationships and well-being. Of course, work as hard as you can, but don’t be hard on yourself because your life hasn’t even begun yet. 
  • In his post-secondary life, Jared is most excited that… college will provide me with the environment and resources to explore my interests and connect with those who share these interests. As a music producer and pianist, I can’t wait to meet other musicians. Perhaps I can join a band and jam with them, or perhaps I will create a collaborative album with a close friend. 

Jamielle Leones
Jamielle came to Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy as a 7th grader. After graduation, she will attend UC Berkeley to study environmental engineering. 

  • Her favorite memory at Aspire: I’ve always regarded my school as a colorful, creative, and close-knit community. This can be proven when you first step inside, and you can find social justice portraits in every corner and feel the warm, friendly welcome of our school staff and students. Despite how small our school is, we are big on a sense of belonging. And my favorite memory of hosting the API town hall in May of 2021 with my Asian Pacific Islander Student Union represents that. During my junior year, my friends, AAPISU, and I worked together to bring our school a town hall dedicated to Asian hxstory. We put together decorations, activities, games, fun educational lessons, and more. Leading up to that point, we also enjoyed spending time with each other and held a cultural potluck where we brought and shared food from within each of our cultures. Overall, in that time of year, I had a fun time organizing the event and seeing how much everyone values diversity.
  • Her advice to younger students: Honestly, just make the most out of your years at school. This means enjoying it as much as possible. Although it is heavily emphasized to work diligently for post-secondary education like college, your whole world shouldn’t strictly revolve around it. It’s not ideal if it means jeopardizing your mental health and even your relationships. You still have a lot ahead of you. Use the time that you have to find what you are passionate about and maintain that instead of stressing or dictating what could happen in the future. Find balance between your work ethic and happiness to live life to the fullest.
  • Jamielle is excited about her post-secondary life because… I’ve recently been watching “day in the life” vlogs of a college student. The “college core” aesthetic seems so cute that I am looking forward to it–like making breakfast for myself, studying in a library with an iPad and an Apple Pencil, or walking around campus with friends 🙂   

Alondra Limon
Alondra came to Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy as an 8th grader. After graduation, she plans to major in political science. 

  • Her favorite memory at Aspire: When I was elected to be student body president. Knowing that the entire student body trusted me with this position felt like an honor for me.
  • Her advice to younger students: Do not make choices based on what other people think. Do what is best for you and never give up regardless of the circumstances.
  • In her post-secondary life, Alondra is most excited about… discovering more about myself and meeting new people outside of just my high school. 

Matthew Marquez
Matthew has been with Aspire since the 3rd grade. After graduating from Aspire Pacific Academy, he will attend UC Irvine to study business administration and finance.

  • His favorite memory at Aspire: Math field days. I only attended twice at my time at Aspire but the competition with other students and being able to come out on top individually was a great accomplishment for me. Other than that, graduating from both elementary and middle school leading up to my graduation of high school is something very special to me to be able to achieve as well. 
  • His advice to younger students: Push yourselves and get into uncomfortable positions because the more you are challenged the better you feel when you accomplish your challenge. Do not slack off at school. Middle school is as important as high school as it prepares you for high school and all high school years are very important as they determine the available options for post high school.
  • In his post-secondary life, Matthew is most excited about… living and experiencing what a university life is all about. All that and learning new things from new people and learning what my future career will be through the next four or more years of my life. I am very excited to move forward in life as an adult.

Dinora Mezquita
Dinora came to Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory Academy as a 6th grader. In the fall, she will attend UC Davis and study political science.

  • Her favorite memory at Aspire: Being able to help at the senior signing ceremony last year. It was just such an amazing experience being a part of the journey of the seniors from that year and seeing them decide the next part of their life. Helping set up in general was also so much fun. 
  • Her advice to younger students: It is okay to take a step back and take care of yourself. Enjoy the ride of being a high school student. 
  • In her post-secondary life, Dinora is most excited about… doing internships that are related to my career choice. 

Max Navarro
Max came to Aspire Ollin University Preparatory Academy as a freshman. He looks forward to studying economics at UCLA in the fall.

  • His favorite memory at Aspire: 11th grade Halloween Carnival. It was so much fun and it was the first event coming back from Quarantine so I was super happy to see everyone having fun in one place again.
  • His advice to younger students: Have fun by yourself. Go visit a museum, eat at that new sushi place, just spend time with yourself once in a while. It can be really relaxing.
  • In his post-secondary life, Matthew is most excited about… meeting new people from places around the United States or the world.

Lindsey Nguyen
Lindsey came to Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy in 6th grade. After graduation, she plans to attend San Jose State University to major in mathematics or math education in hopes of becoming a secondary math teacher.

  • Her favorite memory at Aspire: All of my favorite moments from my time at Aspire stem from community and connection with both students and staff. One that sticks out to me the most is Homecoming week my Junior year. This was my first time experiencing Homecoming from the Student Council point of view, fresh out of the pandemic. Homecoming week was the first event thrown by Student Council that was back in person. It was new to all of us and we were just running on pure excitement to be together again. The whole week of float building and parade preparation showed me how the class of 2023 came together as a community with open-mindedness and trust. Going into something so blindly with trial and error helped us all bond and grow together through the experience. After the whole event I felt so much closer to my class and that I think was the moment that we became a family. With such success, it kept our motivation to create new events which in turn created lasting memories. 
  • Her advice to younger students: As a Connect Crew Leader, the number one advice that I give to the younger students is to make an effort to build relationships with your teachers and the adults on campus. My greatest accomplishments in high school wouldn’t have been made possible without the support of the adults around me. Not just teachers, but also counselors, campus staff, and the office ladies. Building good relationships can not only make you feel more motivated and excited to come to school, but also help you feel more comfortable to reach out and ask for help if you need it. It eliminates the feelings of fear and judgment for seeking help. It also just makes school more fun and exciting! I genuinely love seeing my teachers, counselors, and staff at school everyday and I truly treasure my time with them. I am forever grateful for their support!
  • In her post-secondary life, Lindsey is most excited about… networking and expanding my connections in college. Being at a smaller school has provided me with a tight, family-like community, and so I am curious to see what student life is like at a much bigger scale. I am also looking forward to expanding as a person and seeing who I grow to be based on my experiences. 

Andrea Paz
Andrea has been an Aspire student since the second grade! After graduating from Aspire Alexander Twilight Secondary Academy, she will attend UC Davis to study political science in hopes of becoming a lawyer. 

  • Her favorite memory at Aspire: It’s not a specific memory but all the connections I have built with my teachers. The connections I have with my teachers are something that I will cherish for a long time because they have supported, guided me, and given me resources that otherwise I would have had a hard time getting. 
  • Her advice to younger students: If I could give a piece of advice to younger students it would be to keep moving forward and keep your goals in mind and the reasons why you are doing what you are doing. If I were to give a piece of advice to my younger self I would say to keep moving forward because it gets better.
  • In her post-secondary life, Andrea is most excited about… being able to pursue my career, meet other people who share my interests, and gain more independence to branch out of my comfort zone.