Class of 2015

Alex Ruiz - South Eugene High School

Alex was born in the United States, but spent his early childhood in rural Mexico. When he was 11, his parents sent him to Oregon to attend middle school and live with his older brother, Lorenzo. Lorenzo worked long hours, leaving Alex alone and missing his family in Mexico. At school, he initially felt like an outsider, but before long his English improved and he began making friends. In order to fit in, Alex started skipping school and getting into trouble. Unsure of how to help his brother, Lorenzo sent Alex back to Mexico.

In Mexico, Alex did not attend school. Instead, he worked, cared for his younger sisters, and watched his parents’ relationship suffer as they worked tirelessly to make ends meet. He soon realized the true value of an education, and asked Lorenzo for a second chance. Today, Alex is a leader and role model at South Eugene High School. He takes AP classes, and participates in work study, AVID, and the Latino Student Union. He has a 3.9 GPA, nearly two dozen college credits, and he will be the first in his family to graduate from high school and attend college. His interests include engineering, ethnic studies and social justice.

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Mustaf Mohamed - Madison High School

Mustaf spent most of his childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya. His family lived without electricity in very close quarters. They received one bag of corn and one bottle of oil per month. His mom tried her best to harvest food from her small garden, but Mustaf often went hungry. His teachers in Africa did not speak his language and he struggled to get the most from his education.

When he was 11, Mustaf immigrated to the U.S. He quickly worked his way through his middle school’s program for English learners, and today he’s enrolled in AP courses. Mustaf is passionate about the natural world and plans to study environmental engineering.

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Stephanie Stuck - Wilsonville High School

Stephanie’s first memory is of police lights. When she was four, both her parents were charged with drug possession. Stephanie and her brother bounced between foster homes -- often neglected and abused. Eventually she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, and found shelter and love in her new family.

Unfortunately, Stephanie faced abuse again in high school. The trial that followed put tremendous strain on Stephanie and her family, but caring teachers and counselors helped her rebuild her self-esteem and focus on academics. Stephanie wants to be a social worker so she can advocate for foster children.

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Charis Roberts - Ashland High School

Charis became homeless and independent at the age of 15. He found himself balancing two jobs, navigating a series of temporary living situations, and trying to keep up in school. His independence made him realize the value of a great education. He transitioned from alternative education into a college prep track. In order to test into Alegbra 2 Honors, Charis spent his summer taking an online course. He lived in a tent and saved money to cover housing for the school year.

He is passionate about biochemistry and plans to pursue a career in renewable energy or pharmaceutical alternatives. His dream school is Reed College.

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