Newport Harbor High School senior Christian Reyes, Estancia High School senior Jose Corona, and Early College High School seniors Alizé Castellanos, Aileen Jimenez, Gabriel Quezada and Sarita Plata have each been rewarded for their excellence – both in and out of the classroom – with a full-ride scholarship from the Los Angeles Angels, an honor awarded to just 28 students this year.
TeWinkle Middle School eighth grader Aisleen Avalos also was named a 2023 AVID Angels Scholar and received a $10,000 scholarship.
All students are involved in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at their schools, where they have mastered important skills such as time management, organization, communication and collaboration. Plata and Reyes were each selected as the AVID Standout Senior for their high school, designating them as model representatives of the values and vision of AVID.
“I have learned life-long skills in the seven years I have been involved in AVID,” Plata said. “This year was especially helpful because AVID gave me the opportunity to work on writing college application essays and helped me understand the requirements to qualify for different high-rated schools.”
The Angels Baseball Foundation has awarded more than 127 college scholarships since 2016, investing more than $3 million into local youth and their pursuit of higher education. The Foundation selects scholars based on merit, leadership, academic performance, community involvement, financial need and their desire to achieve higher education.
“We are full of high-achieving and outstanding students,” Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith said. “These six students exemplify our District’s values and have worked tirelessly throughout their educational journeys to earn this scholarship. I know they will do great things in college and life!”
Christian Reyes, Newport Harbor High School
“I feel extremely blessed to receive this scholarship,” Reyes said. “My parents gave up life in their home country with their extended family so that my siblings and I could have a better future here in the United States after they emigrated from Mexico. This scholarship will help me pay them back for a fraction of what they’ve done for me.”
Reyes, a high-achieving scholar with a 4.4 GPA, has helped keep the campus and community clean through the Green Team club; mentored incoming freshmen through Link Crew; and attended community events and provided translations for Spanish-speakers through the Language Ambassadors.
Reyes, who plans to major in civil engineering at UC Berkeley, dreams of becoming an engineering executive in the construction field so that he can use his influence to create equitable pay standards in the industry.
Jose Corona, Estancia High School
Corona has a 4.1 GPA and is involved in the Simon Scholars Program, a program designed to help students facing difficult life and economic circumstances excel both academically and socially so that they can be successful in college and their future career.
“I’m grateful for all the educators and influential people in my life that have gotten me to where I am today,” Corona said. “I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life and make new friends, work toward my career and have an unforgettable experience in college!”
Corona will be attending the University of California, San Diego in the fall where he will study mechanical engineering in pursuit of entering the Aerospace industry.
Alizé Castellanos, Early College High School
Castellanos, who spent a year in the foster care system, will be part of the 50 percent of former foster youth that graduate high school and the 4 percent that pursue higher education. With a 3.9 GPA, Castellanos will graduate with two associate degrees – one in math and science, and one in arts and humanities.
Castellanos works as a lifeguard and swim instructor at The YMCA and is a Newport Beach Police Explorer, where she participates in tactical training and competitions.
“Receiving the Angels College Scholarship is a dream come true,” Castellanos said. “Having people believe in my ability to succeed and invest in my future is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.”
Castellanos will attend UCLA, where she plans to major in psychobiology on a pre-med track. Her long-term goal is to become a neurosurgeon, fulfilling her calling to help people as well as increasing the ranks of Latinas in the field.
Aileen Jimenez, Early College High School
Jimenez has a 3.6 GPA and participated in the Girls Meet Workforce program, which matched her with a mentor and job shadowing opportunities. Jimenez said this program helped her decide to pursue a career in human resources, with a focus in equity, inclusion and belonging.
Jimenez will attend UC Santa Cruz in the fall and plans to major in business management economics.
“I really want to emphasize for other students like me that you don’t have to be in the top 10 percent of your class to earn a good scholarship,” Jimenez said. “Don’t get discouraged just because you don’t have a 4.0 GPA!”
Gabriel Quezada, Early College High School
Quezada has a 4.0 GPA, is the Associated Student Body (ASB) vice president, and is part of Save Our Youth, which supports children in the community through mentoring and other activities.
Quezada will attend UCLA in the fall where he will major in business economics with a minor in film, with a goal of becoming the first Hispanic president of a major film studio.
“I am most excited about all the opportunities that will be available to me at UCLA,” Quezada said. “It’s a good problem to have that there are so many options that I don’t know which to choose from. But I can’t wait to get some hands-on experience in the world!”
Sarita Plata, Early College High School
Plata is set to be a first-generation college student and plans to attend Harvard University, where she will major in environmental science and public policy. She hopes to become a city planner, advocate for her community and ensure everyone’s voices are heard.
Plata, with a 4.3 GPA, founded the film club on campus, is the ASB secretary, and volunteers at the Environmental Nature Center, where she first learned about sustainability and was inspired to work toward making cities greener and more sustainable.
Aisleen Avalos, TeWinkle Middle School
Eighth grader Aisleen was selected to be one of eight outstanding Orange County students to receive a $10,000 AVID Angels scholarship for college. Aisleen is an AVID leader who successfully balances a busy athletic schedule, involvement on campus, and a rigorous honors course load. She also finds time to give back to the community by volunteering at the Heritage Museum, serving as a counselor with Soccer Shots, and tutoring a fellow AVID student daily. Aisleen will continue her education at Estancia High School in the fall and has set her sights on UCLA in the future where she plans on studying kinesiology.
These six amazing Angels Scholars will be recognized at a Los Angeles Angels baseball game in the summer.