Thursday, May 22, 2014

Patrick Henry, Hoover students attend new California Speaker Toni Atkins' swearing-in ceremony

City Heights students Rosa Olascoaga and David Camacho were selected and flown to Sacramento to attend the swearing-in ceremony for the 69th speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins.
David Camacho and Rosa Olascoaga The students attended alongside Reality Changers’ Founder and President Christopher Yanov and received a special invitation from Assemblywoman Atkins.

Camacho is a ninth grader at Hoover High School, where he is active in the ROTC program and the varsity swim team. Olascoaga is graduating from Patrick Henry High next month and has accepted admittance to the University of San Francisco in the fall.

Olascoaga and Camacho were selected to attend after Atkins asked Christopher Yanov, Reality Changers’ Founder and President to select two of the organization’s students to attend the ceremony. The students were selected based on their community and program involvement, as well as their academic achievements.

“I have been interested in politics and community organizing ever since I was in eighth grade and I had the privilege of introducing First Lady Michelle Obama during her visit to City Heights,” said Olascoaga. “It is an honor to have been selected to witness the swearing-in of one of the only females to be Speaker of the Assembly, especially since she is from San Diego. She is an incredibly role-model for females.”

“I was very excited to be able to watch Speaker Toni Atkins as she was sworn-in this afternoon. The entire day was unbelievable,” said Camacho, “it was exciting to be able to participate in such an important moment.”

Camacho is a daily presence at Reality Changers, where he raised his GPA by a full grade point after just six weeks of being in the program. As the top-performing member of Reality Changers' Delegation, Camacho speaks all around San Diego about the struggles he faced as an inner-cit student and how he was able to overcome them.

His goal of becoming the first person in his entire family to attend college will be realized this summer when he will attend UCSD's Academic Connections on a $4,000 scholarship provided by Reality Changers. Academic Connections is a three-week program in July where high school students from around the world live on campus and take college-level classes for college-prep credit. Just last week,

Camacho was selected to participate in the Aaron Price Fellows Program. A 12th grader at Patrick Henry High School and plans to attend the University of San Francisco in the fall on a scholarships worth nearly $200,000, Olascoaga was selected as an eighth grader to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama during Mrs. Obama's first and only visit to City Heights. This event inspired Rosa to complete over 4,000 hours of community service during her high school years, serving others on practically a daily basis as a student leader at Reality Changers and Mid-City CAN.

She also serves on the San Diego Youth Commission and has been one of the lead advocates for creating more park space in City Heights, where the density of the population is greater than any other part of the San Diego region. Through her efforts (and as a direct result of her brother getting hit by a car while riding his skateboard across an intersection), Rosa successfully secured the support to build a new skate park in City Heights.

She has also attended UCSD's Academic Connections for the past three summers and even spent one week of her summer vacation in 2012 studying on the side of an active volcano through a program offered by the University of Hawaii.