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Announcing Our Class of 2023

02/24     |    Latest News
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We’re pleased to announce our 2023 award winners. They include a young woman who gave 500+ hours of her time to local causes and will graduate this year with both her high school diploma and two years of college completed; a well-known resident who has raised money for countless local non-profit organizations; and a local business whose owners’ constant acts of kindness have helped Redwood City residents with critical needs.

This year, 29 Redwood City-area students will receive a total of $200,000 in college scholarships from The Sequoia Awards. The scholarships are funded by individual contributors, local philanthropic organizations, and corporate donors.

The Sequoia Awards Outstanding Student Award goes to Celina Azeneth Reyes Barrera, who attends Woodside High School/Cañada Middle College. She will receive the top scholarship of $25,000. Celina is a passionate volunteer. In addition to her academic load, she works four part-time jobs, and logged more than 500 volunteer hours at organizations like Anthony Padua Dining Room and Second Harvest Food Bank. She also serves as president of the Cañada College Chapter of Active Minds, an all-volunteer, student-led mental health group. Her career goal is to run a culturally diverse non-profit organization providing therapy and other mental health services.

“This country sure encourages competition,” Celina wrote in her application essay, “but I’ve learned that unity is one of the most important traits we can share in a community and, despite the many hardships my family and I have endured, through the many families that I have met in my years of service I have learned to become more appreciative of all I have.”

In addition to honoring local students, The Sequoia Awards annually recognizes an Outstanding Individual for continuing volunteer work in the community. This year, the honoree is George Schoenstein. George is the founder, inspiration, and prime mover behind the PAL Music, Arts and Bar-B-Q Festival. He has raised funds for and volunteered his time to a multitude of causes, including the American Cancer Society, Kainos Home and Training Center, Festiv Italiano, the Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, the Woodside High School band, and St. Pius.

The Sequoia Awards Outstanding Business of the Year is La Biscotteria. The owners, Angela and Augustine Buonocore, certainly live up to their name — in Italian, Buonocore means “good-hearted.” The Buonocores are not connected to any organization. Rather, they step up when they encounter someone in need. You’ll find them cooking and delivering meals to seniors and the disadvantaged, driving seniors to their doctor’s appointments, visiting the sick, and more.

“This year’s honorees are a testament to the difference a single individual can make in our community,” says Debra Hall, Sequoia Awards board chair. “The lives they have touched will be forever changed by their gift of passion, time, and talent. By spotlighting their work, we hope to inspire many more people in our community to volunteer or support non-profit organizations as a sponsor or donor. May we all be buonocore.

In addition to the Outstanding Student of the Year, The Sequoia Awards named three Community Scholars, each of whom will receive scholarships of $9,000. They are Jackson Moroney (Sacred Heart Preparatory), Rosa Linda Martinez Ruano (Sequoia High School), and Katarina Povinec (Carlmont High School).

The remaining high school seniors will receive Corporate Scholarships of $5,000 to $7,500 each.

Here is a complete list of all the student scholarship recipients and the sponsors who made their scholarships possible:

Outstanding Student of the Year
Celina Azeneth Reyes Barrera

Woodside High School/Cañada Middle College

Sponsored by The Sequoia Awards

Atharva Abhyankar

Carlmont High School

Danford Fisher Hannig Foundation

Alexis Barroso-Villa

Woodside High School

The Sobrato Organization, Black Mountain Properties

Misal Bhalala

Carlmont High School

BKF Engineers

Martin Cardoso

Summit Preparatory Charter High School

Sares Regis Group, DPR Construction

Denise Carrillo

Sequoia High School

Greystar, Kaiser Permanente

Evelyn Casique Leon

Sequoia High School

Billee Werby Memorial Scholarship, funded by Barbara & Jerry Pierce, Paula Uccelli, and Lori & Dennis McBride

Ryan Consani

Carlmont High School

W.L. Butler

Mya Gutierrez

Sequoia High School

Hannig Law LLP

Brian Khov

Sequoia High School

Oracle USA, Inc.

Alexandrea Li

Carlmont High School

Danford Fisher Hannig Foundation, Black Mountain Properties

Rosa Linda Martinez Ruano

Sequoia High School

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Yuriana Martinez Vega

Woodside High School

Lyngso Garden Materials

Maria Medina Sanchez

Sequoia High School

Recology San Mateo County, Stanford University

Natalie Melgar

Woodside High School

Stanford Health Care

Jackson Moroney

Sacred Heart Preparatory

Pete and Paula Uccelli Foundation

Christine Nam

Carlmont High School

Franceschini Family, Windy Hill Property Ventures

Cameron O’Connor

Woodside High School

Merrill Lynch, Bank of America

Ale Pelkowski de la Torre

Woodside High School

Danford Fisher Hannig Foundation

Sophia Perna

Woodside High School

Jill Imperiale Memorial Scholarship, funded by Richard & Judith Imperiale

Sierra Pestoni

Woodside High School

San Mateo Credit Union

Katarina Povinec

Carlmont High School

The Sequoia Awards

Emma Rasmussen

Notre Dame Belmont

Crittenden Family

Esperanza Ramirez

Woodside High School

Dostart Development, Heritage Bank of Commerce

Samantha Sajuan Gonzalez

Sequoia High School

Redwood City Firefighters Association, Redwood City Police Officers’ Association

Olivia Sam

Carlmont High School

Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital

Emerson Sawyer

Saint Francis High School

Will Richardson Memorial Scholarship, funded by friends and family

Diana Sedano Jimenez

Sequoia High School

Welch-Everett Family Trust

Karen Valdez

Woodside High School

Alice W. Coughlan R.N. Memorial Scholarship, funded by Liza & Frank Bizzarro and Diane & Dr. Steven Howard

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