Introducing this year’s Don Shalvey: Changing the Odds Award Winners! Created in 2009 to honor Aspire’s founder, Don Shalvey, the award recognizes alumni who 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. This year’s award recipients are Bibiana Cardoso, Sara Lopez, and Wendy Sanchez!
Bibiana is a proud Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy alumna. After graduating in 2013, her college journey began at San Francisco State University. She eventually pivoted to community college but had a difficult time finding the support needed to feel successful. She was thrilled to find Rivet School, through which she earned her associate’s degree in general studies with a specialization in business, and a bachelor’s degree in management. Throughout her entire post-secondary journey, Bibiana found both employment and purpose at her alma mater: in 2015, she began working as an Afterschool Educator, before transitioning to Women’s Soccer Head Coach, and eventually Athletic Director.
This June, she graduated from the Alder Graduate School of Education with a dual master’s and credential program and will make the transition to teaching at Cal Prep in the 2022-2023 school year as an 8th-grade science teacher! Bibiana feels that she would not be the person and educator that she is today without Cal Prep. She is excited to work alongside the educators that taught her while continuing to support the community that shaped her.
Upon graduating from Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy in the spring of 2018, Sara attended San Joaquin Delta College and in two years earned four associate degrees. In Fall 2020, amidst a global pandemic, she transferred to the University of the Pacific to reach her next educational goal. COVID and distance learning was a huge challenge, as she lost her grandfather and dog. Despite adversity, she felt enthusiastic to be a student and leader serving as a New Student Orientation/Week of Welcome Leader and thereafter promoted to Manager. She also served as UOP’s Benerd College Senator under its Student Government body. One of her passions was advocating not just for herself and her colleagues, but for future students to promote a more equitable society and invest in her local community to ensure high-quality educators. Along with school work, she began student teaching in a first-grade class and worked alongside her sister in their photography business.
Proudly, in May 2022, she graduated Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelors in Diversified Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She was inducted as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and chosen as the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. With great joy, she has accepted a teaching position at Aspire Vincent Shalvey Academy, her alma mater. She feels privileged to complete the full circle by returning to Aspire as an educator this fall. Like the VSA motto stated, “Believe it, Achieve it!” and she did!
Wendy is the first in her family to graduate from college, achieving a Bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Riverside. At UCR, she mentored through the Chicano Student Programs, advocated for new initiatives through Associated Students Programs, and was an ambassador for Residence Hall Association. Her mentors encouraged her to study abroad for a quarter in London and Paris. Upon graduating she became a College Ambassador for two years with AmeriCorps in Hollywood. She advocated for students to pursue higher education and be prepared for post-graduation. During her time in service, she was also Scholarship Reader for the UC Study Abroad program and began with her certification program in Paralegal Studies at UCLA Extension Center. Wendy is currently serving with the Board of Directors with UCR Chicano Latino Alumni Association, Scholarship Reader for the Study Abroad Program while being a Paralegal in Employment Law. She aspires to become the first in her family to be an attorney.
Congratulations to this year’s award recipients! To learn more about our alumni and past winners, click here.