June 22, 2001

Sweetwater Seniors Win Creaser Foundation Scholarships

During its 15-year history, Sweetwater District's Creaser Foundation has awarded nearly 80 scholarships to seniors graduating from district high schools. Students are recognized based on their academic achievement and community service.

Honors all around: Jan Pradels and her husband, Foundation President Mike Pradels, are surrounded by this year’s scholarship winners. Jan is the daughter of Phil and Alice Creaser, who established the Creaser Foundation. L to R: Christopher Franco; Lise Lipowsky; Christopher Saroki; Claudia Garcia; Nathaniel Aginiga and Isaac Pastrana.

Established by local philanthropists Phil and Alice Creaser—and now named in their honor—the foundation has given more than $350,000 in awards. This year, six winners each received a $5,000 scholarship.

Nathaniel Aginiga, Hilltop High School, demonstrates his academic achievement with a 4.78 GPA, a first-place Math Team award in a competitive event involving high schools countywide and a top 1% ranking in the national American Mathematics competition. In addition, he is a member of Hilltop's track team and pursues piano, chess and writing as hobbies. Nathaniel's community service activities include volunteer work at the Chula Vista Library and the Nature Interpretive Center. He is especially proud of the Hilltop High Elementary School Olympics that he planned, organized and helped implement. Nathaniel plans to attend Caltech University and major in electrical engineering.

Christopher Franco, Hilltop High School, is an Advanced Placement Scholar and National Hispanic Scholar. Christopher has been a member of the Academic Decathlon Team since his freshman year. His team has won the county championship for the past two years—edging out 44 other high schools to clinch the title. As president of the Environmental Society, he has led efforts to establish a recycling program at Hilltop. In addition to volunteering at the Chula Vista Nature Interpretive Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Christopher also participates in Hilltop's Humanities Club, a student organization that has raised more than $15,000 over the past four years. He plans to attend Caltech University and major in molecular biology.

Claudia Garcia, Southwest High School, earned a 4.56 GPA to become the top student at Southwest High—and the school's first Hispanic female to represent her class as valedictorian. This Advanced Placement/Honors students is vice-president of the Class of 2001, assistant editor for the school newspaper and has won more than 30 awards during her high school career. Her strong interest in the arts has supported her academic success. She has been involved in every drama production at her school, and she's a member of both the Sweetwater District Mariachi Ensemble and Southwest High's Ballet Folklórico. Her volunteer work includes tutoring, fundraising and supporting blood drives. Claudia plans to attend Harvard University and major in Biological Science.

Lise Lipowsky, Bonita Vista High School, is a full International Baccalaureate diploma candidate—reflecting mastery of the most rigorous curriculum offered. She was named valedictorian and Most Likely to Succeed by Bonita's class of 2001. Her participation in peer advising, leadership conferences and Student Congress is further evidence of her commitment to education. An accomplished artist, dancer and musician, Lise is also a published poet. She received early acceptance to Harvard University, where she plans to major in political science and participate in extracurricular activities such as dance, student government and crew.

Isaac Pastrana, Eastlake High School, has a 4.59 GPA, holds Golden State Awards in physics, chemistry and geometry and is Eastlake's Outstanding Four-Year French Student—achievements even more impressive considering that he first came to the United States six years ago speaking almost no English. His extracurricular highlights include serving as ASB president, captain of the football and wrestling teams and school record-holder in track for the 800-meter. In addition to tutoring other students and lifeguarding at community pools, he spends his free time volunteering for San Diego Blood Bank and Red Cross blood drives, Chula Vista Police Department toy drives and Eastlake Educational Foundation fundraisers. Isaac has been accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSD and UCLA. He plans to attend UCSD as a pre-med major specializing in oncology.

Christopher Saroki, Chula Vista High School, is the class valedictorian, with 18 Advanced Placement or honors courses to his credit. He achieved a perfect math score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and earned first place and senior sweepstakes in the Sweetwater District Science Fair. Christopher is also editor of the Opinions section of Chula Vista's school newspaper, and his article on the recent presidential election was published in the San Diego Union Tribune. His community and volunteer work includes feeding the homeless at Saint Vincent DePaul, working with autistic children through San Diego Cares and tutoring students at Rice Elementary School. Christopher has chosen to continue his education at UCLA with an emphasis on writing.

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