Two Lake Washington School District (LWSD) high school students recently received Coca Cola Scholars Program scholarships for their achievements in serving their communities.
The scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 30th class in 2018, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has provided more than 6,000 scholars with more than $66 million in educational support.
Sarah Raza, a senior at Redmond High School (RHS) was awarded a $20,000 scholarship due to her creation of Aware. Aware is a club in which special needs students and general education students meet monthly during lunch and after-school for activities. She said she wanted to remove the barriers that keep the general student population from interacting with special needs students.
“When you start doing work like [Aware] you never expect for it to come full circle,” Raza said in a statement. “I wasn’t doing this for me…so to think that I did end up getting a scholarship because of Aware, honestly, I am just more grateful to all the students with special needs, more grateful to my friend’s younger sister, Samantha, who kind of started everything.”
Raza has been accepted to Stanford University and will begin in the fall.
The application process for the scholarship requires submission of grades, a list of all extracurricular activities and answering essay questions.
Each year, 150 students are selected to receive this $20,000 scholarship. The recipients are invited to the Scholars Weekend in Atlanta. Scholars were honored at the 31st Annual Scholars Banquet and participated in the Leadership Development Institute, an intensive leadership training during the weekend, which challenges them to develop an inside-out leadership philosophy.
However, there were 151 Coca Cola Scholars this year.
Sophia Gonzalez is a recent graduate of International Community School (ICS) in Kirkland. She received the scholarship last year for her 170-plus hours of serving children with cancer. She volunteered at a camp for children with cancer, volunteered at Seattle Children’s Hospital and was the president of her school’s key club.
Gonzalez was unable to attend last year’s Scholars Banquet. Gonalez was first diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 8. After 10 years in remission, the cancer returned last year.
Gonzalez remembered interviewing for her award in her hospital bed.
“I remember being interviewed by Jamie Williams and Courtney Lynn while I was in the hospital,” she said. “It was so great to finally meet them in person at this year’s banquet. They were the ones who advocated for me and allowed me to be there.”
For Gonzalez, it was difficult when her cancer relapsed.
“It was hard watching all the other scholars go last year but I knew I had to get better,” she said. “I was 10 years out from cancer when it came back…I was always the kind of person telling other kids with cancer that there is life after cancer. I was always that source of inspiration.”
Gonzalez has committed to attending Emory University in Atlanta.
For more information about the Coca Cola Scholarship Program, visit www.coca-colascholarsfoundation.org.