Wednesday, July 18, 2018
SANTA MONICA—A few years ago, Vanessa Felix noticed an uptick in “girl drama” and social media conflicts at Animo Inglewood Charter High School (AICHS). Instead of chalking it up to typical teenager behavior, Vanessa decided to do something about it. She founded the Women Empowerment Club to create a safe, confidential community beyond cliques, where the school’s young women talked about societal expectations and shared their own personal gender-related experiences. A few miles south in Lynwood, Kimberly Wenceslao of Firebaugh High School (FHS), raised funds for seniors to visit colleges in northern California and led tutoring for the school’s rigorous IB courses. She held weekly information sessions to educate her classmates about college fly-in programs, financial aid and application strategies, reviewing countless applications and essays from her peers. Both Vanessa and Kimberly’s selfless efforts on behalf of their peers have been recognized by the Milken Scholars, and each is among the fifteen recent Los Angeles County High School graduates to be awarded a $10,000 cash prize and a lifetime of mentoring and resources. As of 2018, more than 400 Milken Scholars have been selected from over 175 high schools in Los Angeles County, New York City and Washington, D.C. Milken Scholars embody a variety of ages, backgrounds, and academic and professional interests, and represent elite colleges and universities in the country. Nearly one-third were born outside the United States and three-quarters have parents originating from 67 countries. Nearly half were the first in their family to attend college. Vanessa, the school valedictorian and avid tutor in several sciences will attend Stanford where she intends to study human biology with an eye toward a career in anesthesiology. Kimberly is matriculating to Yale where she intends to study ethnicity, race and migration and is planning a career as a lawyer.