Carranza: Special recognition for outstanding SFUSD graduates

The last day of the school year is Friday, which means thousands of seniors are donning caps and gowns this week and walking across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Many of them persevered through tough circumstances, took advantage of the tremendous resources in our schools and made it to graduation day. I'd like you to meet a few of our graduating seniors.

Rio Anderson

High School: Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Colleges: Royal Ballet School in London; Harvard

Rio attended San Francisco Unified School District schools her whole life. Early exposure to arts programs in school made a profound difference in her life. By the time she got to high school, it was clear to Rio that dance would be a larger part of her education than she'd expected, and the school enabled her to design a unique educational path where she could deepen her love of science and math while simultaneously training to become a professional ballerina.

Renz Ignacio

High School: June Jordan School for Equity College: UC San Diego

Renz made the choice to come here from the Philippines in sixth grade to get a better education. At June Jordan, Renz says they take time to study real-world situations in depth and current events so he and his classmates are ready for a global future. He loves kids and plans to study to be a doctor with hopes of being either a pediatrician or working in family medicine. After that? He wants to serve on Doctors Without Borders to ensure the health of children around the world.

Khalil Meftah

High School: SF International College: UC Davis

During his last year of high school in Yemen, the Arab Spring began and Khalil found himself taking final exams with gunshots outside and police officers guarding the school. Soon after, he moved to the U.S. to be with his dad, but had to attend high school all over again to be considered for college in the U.S. Khalil has loved science since an early age, and recently got the chance to intern at UCSF on a project that tested decreasing CYP51 in Leishmania braziliensis. (I had to look it up: Leishmania are parasites that infect white blood cells and come from sandflies in hot places). Khalil says he's learned that “everything in the world belongs to science.”

Alison Talker

High School: Wallenberg College: Columbia University

When she was younger, Alison was a victim of a turbulent household due to her parents' divorce. Luckily, during her high school years, Alison says she had teachers who believed in her and consistently supported her as she worked to become a leader at school. She knows her college education will allow her to pursue a passion for law, and she hopes to one day reform family law.

Wendy Truong

High School: Philip and Sala Burton College: UCLA

During her time at Burton, Wendy says she learned a lot as a leader of Tech Crew, which assists the school all year long at various events — rallies, talent shows, family events — with technical issues. Wendy says the work has taught her to be prepared and ready for anything. In fact, she lives by the philosophy “always be on the lookout for the big idea that can change your life.”

Share more about the class of 2015 with me on social media by using #SFUSDGrads.

Richard A. Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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