Created in 2009 to honor Aspire’s founder, Don Shalvey, the award recognizes alumni, who like Don before them, are the first in their families to graduate from college, give back to their communities, and continue to demonstrate tenacity in the pursuit of College for Certain.
Each winner is selected from across our regions: the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Los Angeles area. This year’s award recipients are Ernesto Diaz, Alondra Gonzalez, and Samuel Renfrow!
In 2009, Ernesto “Ernie” Diaz graduated from Aspire Lionel Wilson Preparatory Academy and went on to CSU San Jose to study behavioral sciences. A decade later, Ernie is back at his high school alma mater as a school support manager overseeing behavior and academic support for Lionel Wilson students. Over the years, Ernie, a much-beloved member of the Aspire community, has held various positions supporting students in their social and emotional development. Now more than ever, Ernie’s personal connection to the community he serves has been integral to the support he provides.
Alondra Gonzalez graduated from Aspire Pacific Academy in 2015, pivoting quickly after graduation to start working to support her family. After more than a year and a half, Alondra enrolled at Liberty University Online and received her Associate’s Degree. Afterward, she worked at The Camp Transformation Center, helping others transform their lives and move forward with their health and fitness goals. She is now a proud mother of a little one named Faith and resides in Huntington Park.
Samuel “Sam” Renfrow, an Aspire scholar from kindergarten through 12th grade(!), credits his love of reading and his desire to pursue a post-secondary education to the amazing teachers he had while at Aspire. Sam graduated in 2019 from CSU Stanislaus with honors and a B.A. in sociology. He then wrote to Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory Academy and expressed a deep interest in working for his high school alma mater. In his interview for the position of after-school director, Sam stated he had a “heartfelt desire to give back to the system (Aspire) and the school (Vanguard) that made all of his life’s goals possible.” Sam is now working with Vanguard College Prep’s after school program and is excited about his future academic pursuits.
Congratulations to our 2020 Don Shalvey: Changing the Odds award recipients! To learn more about our alumni and past winners, click here.