Four high school seniors have been selected by the Community of Character Collaborative as recipients of the 2022 Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarship. Applicants were required to explain how their actions have reflected any or all of the six characteristics adopted by the Pleasanton Unified School District, City of Pleasanton, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce faith and other organizations: compassion, honesty, respect, responsibility, integrity, and self-discipline.
The scholarship was created to honor the memory of Juanita Haugen, founder of the collaborative, who died in 2007 due to cancer. Mrs. Haugen was a former president not only of the local school board, but also of the California School Boards Association. Students from each of the Pleasanton high schools’ graduating classes are eligible to apply for one of the annual awards.
The awards were selected based on the applicant’s commitment to the values of the community of Character, their experiences, and things they’ve overcome as well as their service to their school, family and community.
Sahana Kumar is a senior at Amador Valley High School, daughter of Anand Sankaran and Saradha Rajagopalan. She is an improviser, environmentalist, and dog-lover. She was born in Mt View, Ca and after a few years moved to Bangalore, India before moving to Pleasanton.
In 7th grade, she was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety, which was an incredibly tough journey of healing to understand her disposition and trying to find her calm. It was especially difficult in the pandemic, but she can proudly say she is currently the happiest she’s ever been. Sahana stated “I’d like to consider myself an ethical, empathetic person, as that is my true utter passion to discover how I can help others, I’m not exactly sure I know what I want to do for a living, but I know whatever I do must be in the non-profit sector helping others. I see all this privilege I’ve been given and feel it is my moral duty to help others with what I have.”
In college, she hopes to study philosophy, political science, and computer science. Her goal is to live a happy life where she can dedicate her work to helping others as much as she can.
Of her stay in India, she said, “I saw the massive monetary differences and caste system’s toll on Indians. Living in India has taught me what it means to be respectful of all – a beggar is just as much a person as a villa owner.”
Her school and community volunteer activities include: creating Sunshine Tutoring, a free tutoring agency to help students struggling during the pandemic, President of the AV LEAD club helping local charities, performing with “Creatures of Impulse” a improvisation group and secretary/treasurer of the AVHS Ethics Club, student representative of the PUSD Green Team working with schools for more eco-friendly schools, Talent Coordinator for the Mr. Amador event raising funds for the George Marks Children’s House in San Leandro. She is a LINK leader at AV, upperclassmen who help integrate underclassmen into Amador life with their academic and personal goals. She is also a member of the French Honors Society and was a summer intern with the Go Green Initiative.
Delaney Roehrs is a senior at Amador Valley High School
Looking at pictures of their smiling faces on social media, you would never know that Delaney’s family struggled with addiction, mental illness, and financial hardships. As is often the case – such secrets are kept to protect the family. So it was that Delaney Roehrs, eldest of three, quietly assumed the role of caregiver for her sisters and parents. For the last 7 years, Delaney tried to bring balance to the negative aspects of her troubled homelife and to create a sense of stability for her family. Her school life was equally difficult. Despite a gifted intellect, Delaney’s school assigned her ADHD as “problematic” and she was assigned to a class with “troubled” children. This environment produced depression, anxiety, and isolation, and difficult nights at home were exacerbated by trying days at school. She began to question her abilities and started to lose hope for a future.
In 2020, Delaney connected with an old family friend. She shared the truth of her struggles at home, confessing that her dreams of going to college were weakening. The family friend flew her to California for spring break to tour colleges. She fell in love with California and began to imagine a new life. A few weeks later, Delaney got near-perfect scores on her ACT which gave her a renewed confidence.
Delaney realized that she didn’t have the support she needed to realize her full potential, a few months later, she made the difficult decision to leave her family in Missouri and moved in with the family friend in Pleasanton enrolling at Amador Valley High School for her senior year and set about taking control of her life. The move was the catalyst Delaney needed. She is getting straight A’s for the first time in her life, is enrolled in AP and honors courses. She has established a 504 plan for her ADHD and finally has medication to help her focus. She’s applied to numerous colleges.
Delany shared, “Moving to California gave me courage to step out of my comfort zone. I know I can overcome every challenge I face. I want to build a career in pediatric psychology to help middle school-age kids with the same struggles I faced at their age. I have a renewed sense of purpose- I know I can make a difference in the world this way.” Delaney credits her parents for supporting her choice to move away and her California guardians for encouraging her to pursue her dreams. She also recognizes the wonderful faculty at Amador, her PUSD social worker- Brenda Montgomery, and others who helped on her journey.
Delaney currently volunteers with Z-Cares, a non-profit focusing on bringing awareness to mental health in youth through advocacy and education. She also participates in a new PUSD peer counseling forum called “Girl to Girl” giving young women a safe space to talk about matters of importance.
Sara Molina is a senior at Foothill High School; her parents are Mauricio and Maria Molina from Colombia. She feels she belongs to two communities that often seem part of different worlds. Born in California but with deep Latin roots, Sara is a mix of cultures and memories that influence her unique identity. During the pandemic, those in her city in Colombia dealt with hunger, desperation, and hopelessness. To help, she started to bake and sell cookies with her brother to fund food for vulnerable families in Cali, Colombia. Since June 2020, they have baked and distributed more than 13,000 cookies, raising over $23,000 for those in need.
Referring to the values, Sara said, “Compassion affected me at a very young age. I have a vivid image of trips to Cali where barefoot kids, wearing tired rags, performed tricks for money at traffic lights. ….these experiences touched me deeply and opened my eyes to my responsibility to be someone who finds ways to help.”
Success in baking cookies for Colombia led to other initiatives, from art contests and corporate partnerships to training baking partners. Enlisting other families and companies, Sara and her brother raised $7,000 to donate 113 backpacks full of school supplies and over 90 pairs of new shoes for vulnerable children in Colombia. Other campaigns resulted in donations of shoes to the American Cancer Society and raised funds to help struggling small businesses in Pleasanton during the pandemic.
Sadie Brown is a senior at Foothill High School, her parents are Geoffrey and Martha Brown of Pleasanton. She is the fifth and youngest daughter in the family, and her successful older sisters gave her an affinity to strive to be the best that she could be.
When commenting about the values, she made the following statements: “Compassion directs everything I do, whether it’s in my service to the community or my future aspirations, I emphasize consideration and understanding in how I live my life.” “Responsibility is not something that I take lightly, as I compare it to someone placing their trust in me to get things done well, and to get them done right. I feel responsibility to be the best I can be in whatever I do on a daily basis, and although this sets my expectations high, I try to achieve them as often as possible.”
Sadie has been active in civic, school, and community activities. She served two 2-year terms on the Pleasanton Parks and Recreation Committee, has participated in Girl Scouts since kindergarten, works at the Meadowlark Dairy, plays and is captain of her Pleasanton RAGE soccer team, and is a USSF soccer referee.
At Foothill, Sadie is captain for both the Lacrosse and Soccer teams, and has received several awards, including Scholar Athlete, Most Inspirational, and the Foothill Falcon Award. She is also involved in the school spirit as a member of the Leadership class and Blue Crew, and is Co-President of the California Scholarship Federation. Volunteer activities include the National Charity League, which helps many local non-profits, Hively, the Pleasanton Library, and Kids Against Hunger.
Her future plans are to study History at Claremont McKenna College while playing goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team. She plans on pursuing a career in teaching.
Donations made to the scholarship funds are used to increase the number of awards as well as the amount of the scholarship. The Juanita Haugen scholarship is unique as it focuses on character and service. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO THIS SCHOLARSHIP: Go to www.CommunityOfCharacter.org/scholarships (click on the circle to “Donate”)