As students return cautiously to school on campus, the Club honors 28 with Joannie Mukai Scholarships.
The Club is pleased to announce the winners of the annual Joannie Mukai Scholarship Program for 2021. An elevated total — 28 – of Club Members and their relatives have been awarded stipends. For the first time, the Club implemented an effective two-step application process to streamline eligibility; 103 students applied.
The Club’s Scholarship program was named for the late Joannie Mukai, the former Club Board Member and Harbor retiree who passed away in 2010. This is the 11th anniversary of her death.
“The Club is honored to award these incredible young people,” said John Hawkins, Club CEO. “The last year has been very hard on students, but it’s clear that these students have surpassed the challenges and excelled. Through our scholarship program, we encourage everyone to keep going and follow your dreams.
“The Club’s scholarship committee and I wish all the success in the world to those who applied. Keep working hard, keep achieving … the future depends on you.”
Those eligible included Club Members, their spouses and their children who are in college full-time or will be attending an accredited college or university in Fall 2021.
Congratulations to the awardees and their families,
and the Club wishes the best success to all those who applied.
ABOUT JOANNIE MUKAI
Joannie Mukai was a pioneer as the LA Port’s Director of Construction and Maintenance. A passionate supporter in the Employees Club and longtime Club Insurance Board Member, she died in March 2010. The Club’s annual scholarship program was named in her honor. “She believed in education and training, and in preparing for success,” Club CEO John Hawkins said. “That’s what the Club Scholarship is all about, and we’re delighted to name it after her. It’s a perfect way to keep her memory alive.”
Recipients of a $500 Joannie Mukai Scholarship
Daughter of Jose Alvarez, Airport Police, City of Los Angeles
Alexia is a student at the University of La Verne, where she is a biology major. She hopes to graduate in 2022 and continue with medical studies. She has a medical internship with COPE Health Scholarship – “I am a small part of the patient care team that ensures patients are taken care of during their hospital visit.
“My goal is to become an orthopedic doctor where I can treat athletes of all ages,” she writes. “As a current collegiate athlete, I will be able to connect with them and their passion to thrive in their sport while I will treat them to return to 100 percent.”
Carlos Callejo Jr.
Employee of LADWP, City of Los Angeles
Carlos is a student at Cal Poly Pomona, majoring in history.
For his high school senior project, Carlos painted a mural with his grandfather. “My grandfather is a well-known Chicano muralist who has had his art all over the southwest. My grandfather was an activist heavily involved in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, and his art helps uplift Chicano voices and culture.” Painting the mural with his grandfather was a great bonding experience.
“I hope to continue my education in history and the arts in my academic future,” Carlos writes. “I plan to finish my Bachelor’s degree and then continue on to earn my Master’s degree and Ph.D. … to contribute to my community through teaching.”
Daughter of Santa Callares, DMV, State of California
Ariana is a student at Fresno City College.
Ariana is proud that she has been a cheerleader for 12 consecutive years. “I began cheering when I was five years old and just completed my senior year of cheering,” she writes. “It has been such a great experience, where I learned to be part of a team and what responsibility is.”
Arians’s educational goal is to finish college at Fresno City College and earn her Associate’s degree in child development. “My plan is to transfer to Fresno State University for my Bachelor’s degree and earn my Bachelor of arts degree in teaching. I want to pursue a career in teaching and become a pre-school teacher.”
Daughter of Capt. Juan Colson, LAFD, City of Los Angeles
Alysa is an Upland High School graduate of 2021 and plans to attend Northern Arizona University in the fall.
“I am adopted into a wonderful family through the San Bernardino foster care system. Receiving a Bachelor’s degree is essential and powerful when I reflect on my struggles with reading during elementary years.
“My parents have done so much for me, and they’ve always pushed me to do incredible things; receiving this scholarship would help with the cost of books and tuition,” she writes. “I have always worked very hard for whatever I put my mind to, and I will continue to work toward my goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.”
Claudia De Loera
Daughter of Jorge De Loera, Rec and Parks,
City of Los Angeles
Claudia plans to study at Rio Hondo College this fall. She plans for a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math), and will major in either science or math.
In her personal essay, Claudia addressed the challenge of attending school in a pandemic. “When quarantine happened, I realized that I could not do online school…every little distraction at home would prevent me from getting work done,” she writes. “I did not want to ask for help online because everyone’s face is directly facing you. It was all very intimidating. It took everything inside of me to get up in the morning and to complete all my work. I slowly began getting the hang of online school and gave it my all toward the end.” Claudia graduated with a GPA of 4.0.
Son of Angel Gomez, Municipal Club Member
Aden graduated from Whitney High School and plans to attend Cal State, Long Beach in the fall.
“I will be studying cellular biology as a part of my undergraduate program and will later pursue a Ph.D or medical program for a career centered in biotechnology or in pharmacology,” he writes. Aden continues: “I hope to be on the frontier of discovery in the future. I dream of finding cures to diseases and solutions to problems in the natural world through biological mechanisms with my overall aim being to help people.”
Angel Gomez Jr.
Son of Angel Gomez, Municipal Club Member
Angel is in his junior year at Cal State, Long Beach.
“Throughout my upbringing, I have observed the sacrifices my parents have made to ensure my brother and I received the best education possible,” he writes. “They have also taught me the importance of discipline and hard work to achieve my goals in life.”
Angel’s goals include finishing his Bachelor’s degree and staying on the President’s List and scoring well on the GMAT test to enter an MBA program after a few years of professional work experience.
“The routines and study habits from Whitney [HS] have prepared me well as I have been named to the President’s List for five straight semesters. Both before and throughout the quarantined, online learning environment, it has always been a goal to remain concentrated on my education.”
Son of Ruben De La Cruz, LADWP,
City of Los Angeles
Johnny plans to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, this fall, majoring in computer science.
“Before entering high school, I completed two computer science courses at the local junior college,” he writes. “These classes allowed me to continue growing my skills in programming while providing the tools I needed to conduct academic research.
Johnny was involved in the Youth and Government program for four years, about which he said: “I have developed an improved knowledge of civic discourse, public policy, and how these are shaped and altered by social justice movements. My participation in this program helped me realize the importance of pursuing a career in computer science, a field in which Latinos are severely underrepresented.”
Daughter of Ruben De La Cruz, LADWP,
City of Los Angeles
Haley is a third-year student at the University of New Mexico working towards degrees in nursing and criminology.
“I believe a degree in both areas would help me to assist an extremely vulnerable population – children in the juvenile justice system,” she writes. “I believe both mental and physical health are vital to the overall success of students, and I want to use my education in support of at-risk youths.”
As a teen, Haley attended Comfort Zone Camp, which was both an outlet and an opportunity. “Volunteering with grieving children has been one of the most worthwhile causes I have contributed to, and it is heartwarming to watch as children began to see their potential and realize they can help to create positive change within the community.”
Neverly Ann Hill
Employee of the City of Los Angeles
Neverly is a student at the University of La Verne and an employee of the City of Los Angeles.
When Neverly experienced financial hardship, she was disqualified from the four-year college she attended out of high school. However, she kept on her education journey and attended college part time while working part time for the City of Los Angeles. She graduated from Long Beach Community College with her Associate’s degree in business administration.
“I went on to attend the University of La Verne, where I will receive my Bachelor’s degree in Fall 2022 in criminal justice criminology,” she writes. “I have been able to volunteer my time with my church as I help serve and teach the children. I also volunteer with Build Plus Food Bank, where we distribute food and goods in the Watts community. My goal is to finish college with my Bachelor’s degree and to pursue my Master’s degree at Cal State, Dominguez Hills.”
Granddaughter of Deborah Jenkins, Retired, Transportation, City of Los Angeles
Maya plans to attend Azusa Pacific University this fall and study in the cinematic arts program.
“I was born into a home of two different, distinct cultures,” she writes. “I want to be a film director. I rarely see stories from people with my background: Mexican American and African American. I want to tell my story and the story of people both like me and unlike me. Learning to be a filmmaker, I can fulfill my dream of being a storyteller.”
Maya got her first “kid-friendly” digital camera at four years of age, and a Crayola camcorder at age six. “I would take my cameras everywhere, recording what I found to be interesting … telling the story of how I viewed the world. I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
“Five years from now, I will be graduating with my law degree and celebrating my daughter’s tenth birthday. I hope that with every achievement and milestone we share, she is motivated to do the same as me, if not more than me.”
Daughter of Lt. Jonathan Larsen, LAPD, City of Los Angeles
Hannah plans to attend Brigham Young University this fall to pursue studies in nursing.
Her plan was always to have a career in the medical field, and for the last three years she participated in a biomedical program at school. Following a recent mountain bike accident and surgery to her clavicle, Hannah realized what her specialty would be.
“Throughout the process, I had nurses by my side helping me physically with all my injuries, explaining what they were doing and why, while being very encouraging and understanding,” she writes. “This experience made my decision to study nursing clear. I learned firsthand the difference nurses made in my care and overall experience.”
Hannah has sacrificed high school sports participation to graduate early and start her studies.
Niece of Steve Lopez, Sheriff’s Office,
County of Los Angeles
Annette is studying at Allan Hancock College, majoring in art. She intends to transfer to obtain her degree and teaching credentials, and teach art.
Annette’s days during the COVID-19 pandemic consisted of “helping my younger brothers get ready for their online classes, helping my mom with house chores, and continuing my own college education online,” she explains. She struggled with social disconnection but challenged herself to continue to develop her drawing skills. “In drawing still images of my siblings and pets, I also took online graphic design classes to develop my skills in information technology aspect of art.
“If there is anything worth remembering about the year 2020, I will choose to recognize the importance of self-care, family, and the expression of ideas.”
Daughter of Julio Navarro, Public Works,
City of Los Angeles
Arely is a student at the University of California, Irvine, as a biological science major.
“I had my mind set on attending dental school,” she writes. “However during this past school year, I became more interested in becoming a physician assistant. As I looked more into this potential career path, I decided to become a member of the Physician Assistants Coming Together club at UCI.”
During the club meetings, Arely’s interest in this career path grew. “To achieve this new goal, I spent my virtual second year of college working hard to not only receive the highest grades possible in my course but also to learn and prepare myself for the future despite the challenges I faced.”
Daughter of Julio Navarro, Public Works, City of Los Angeles
Gabriela is a liberal studies major at Cal State, San Marcos, with an emphasis in Spanish.
Gabriela wrote: “I realized through helping my mom in her Daycare how much I enjoyed teaching others and watching little ones apply what they learned into their daily lives.
“I want to start off as an elementary school teacher and teach a dual language immersion class,” she continues. “In a dual language immersion classroom, the class is taught in English and another language, most commonly Spanish. A goal of mine has always been to help others, and being a teacher in a dual immersion classroom, I will be helping not only English learners but also teaching the Spanish language.”
Son of Nicole Naylor, Transportation, City of Los Angeles
Damari attends the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He is a first-generation college student and the first in his family to attend a four-year institution. He earned a full tuition scholarship to attend the university. “To cap off my first year of college, I notched a cumulative GPA of 3.6 and became an undergraduate school of business admit, a program that ranks in the top 10 in the nation among public schools,” Damari writes. He plans to major in finance and marketing.
He continues: “I feel that money isn’t taught enough to young and promising black students, so I make it my personal mission to make sure that young minds know how to turn a dollar into generational wealth.”
Daughter of Correctional Officer Marcos Ozuna, Retired, State of California
Cynthia is a student at San Diego State University, majoring in sociology with a minor in counseling and social change.
At 22, Cynthia is in her second year, having transferred with her Associate’s degree from a community college where she got hooked on sociology. “My grades shot up, and I felt like I finally found exactly what I wanted to do.”
At San Diego State, “I found another love of mine – counseling, and social change. I am currently in the process of transferring to two new jobs, as both a job/resource counselor and a peer counselor! I plan to work directly under my professor and my new supervisors. This is an exciting new step for me, as I hold both my major and minor dear to me.”
Daughter of Patricia Pena, Public Social Services, County of Los Angeles
Angelica will attend the University of California, Berkeley this fall in the College of Engineering, majoring in mechanical engineering.
Angelica has always had a keen interest in engineering. “In the third grade, I was in an afterschool program that focused on teaching STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] principles to children through projects,” she writes. “The first project we had was creating a rocket out of tape. I recall having so much fun with these design projects and learning more about the design process. This led me into taking engineering classes throughout middle school and high school. Furthermore, I took engineering community college classes during high school.”
In fact, Angelica has her sights set on space exploration and aims to work at NASA after college.
Niece of Elva Espinoza, Parks and Rec,
County of Los Angeles
Amanda plans to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, this fall to study the history of public policy and law.
“A leader is hardworking and glad to go above and beyond,” Amanda writes. One of her high school achievements was taking the step up from team member to team captain of her high school dance team.
Amanda is focused on becoming a lawyer. “I have first-hand experience of the life that immigration has allowed. I know that without my grandparents’ dream of a better life in the United States I would not be who I am today.”
Following UCSB, Amanda plans to attend law school to qualify to practice immigration law “to provide another family the fortune I have benefitted from.”
Michael Suvert Jr.
Employee of Parks and Rec, County of Los Angeles
Michael is a student at Cal State, Dominguez Hills, and an employee of Parks and Rec, County of Los Angeles.
“My biggest achievement has been the joy of being able to serve my local community by applying prior educational, professional, and voluntary experiences,” Michael writes. “It’s in these experiences, I have maintained versatility. Being versatile has allowed me to see to the needs of those who require additional help as it pertains to the social tenets of advocating for the voiceless. Most of my professional and spiritual opportunities and achievements have evolved around helping people.”
Michael has also witnessed the advocacy for social justice amongst his colleagues, which inspires him to further his career in pursuing a Master’s degree in social work. “Being a voice for the voiceless is a passion of mine, which I believe is a core value of social work.”
Daughter of Rito Venegas, Transportation,
City of Los Angeles
Kheiry plans to attend the University of California, San Diego, this fall.
In her junior year of high school, Kheiry challenged herself with advanced calculus classes and a year-long research project into the lack of female representation in the engineering field.
Kheiry had the opportunity to meet and later interview Jennifer Villacis, a student majoring in civil/structural engineering. “Gaining a first-hand perspective from someone pursuing a major in the same subject that I was interested in, heightened my passion for the subject.”
In her senior year, she found the perfect job for her as an instructor for the Mathnasium franchise.
“Through the sexism I previewed as a high school student, and my various experiences with math both inside school and in the workforce, I found more than enough motivation to pursue a structural engineering major in college.”
Employee of Public Works, City of Los Angeles
Sheimeikaa is a student at Northcentral University studying for a doctorate in education, and an employee of Public Works, City of Los Angeles.
Through the service sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Sheimeikaa mentors disadvantaged teen girls and serves on the social and political agenda committee.
“Additionally, I am a member of Human Rights Watch, which advocates for the security of rights and better treatment of youth offenders in our California justice system,” she writes. “I have found that replacing words and theoretical views with action empowers me to challenge an inequitable system, stand up for those who may have been overlooked, and align with those who have a progressive vision to help others,” she writes.
“The more truthful we become about ourselves, the more we challenge our implicit biases and strive to undo skewed perspectives. Spreading light is contagious, so shine bright – respect differences, seek clarity, and never be afraid to speak up.”
Son of Ryan West, Internal Services, County of Los Angeles
Mason is a student at Cal Poly, Pomona and is on track to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in criminology in Spring 2022 and pursue a career in law enforcement. “My degree will give me the education and experience I need to pursue a career that will allow me to contribute to society both on and off the job,” he writes.
Mason volunteers at a community food pantry, mentors young students and athletes, and takes part in community and environmental cleanup events. He has had jobs since the 10th grade.
“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I completed an intensive Emergency Medical Technician training program and became a licensed EMT while remaining a full-time student. All these experiences both paid and unpaid have been equally rewarding and have taught me what I want to do with my life.”
Employee of Code Enforcement, City of Pasadena
Aresha is a student at Cal State, Long Beach.
Whenever Aresha was asked what superpower she would want to have, she would always choose the ability to read minds. She learned about psychology and got to take a psychology course in her senior year of high school. “Despite quarantine, psychology was able to hold my interest in ways that other classes haven’t,” she writes. Her goal is to work as a therapist.
Aresha has been playing violin for 12 years. “Music is one of my biggest passions and is something that I will continue to do, even if it’s not something I pursue as a career.” She has played in an orchestra competition and a jazz competition, at Dodgers Stadium, at the Pasadena Police Station, at a senior citizen home, and in a recording studio in Hollywood.
“I’ve used my abilities to help touch others during rough times as well, such as my performances at my siblings’ mother’s funeral in 2017 and for my father (and former Club member) Charles Echols’ memorial video this year.”
Employee of the LAPD, City of Los Angeles
Adrian is a student at the University of La Verne.
Adrian didn’t succeed with his first attempt at college and went on to work in retail positions. However, once he was offered employment at the LAPD, he saw the opportunities available for advancement if he could get his Bachelor’s degree. “I decided that my goal was to earn my Bachelor’s degree to take the promotional exam for the management assistant position.
“Despite not having any previous academic achievements, this past semester I graduated from L.A. Valley College,” he continues. Adrian has earned Associate’s degrees in business administration, marketing, management, and via ELAC, administration of justice. He graduated cum laude with a 3.5 GPA and made the Dean’s List multiple times, ultimately earning a spot on the Community College President’s List.
Employee of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, State of California
Mark studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Growing up in Southern California, I joined a local Boy Scout troop at the age of 8,” he writes. “Waking up Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. was quite brutal for a young child, but little did I know that this community would help ignite my passion for the environment and natural resources.
“I aim to use the principles of electrochemical water treatment to transform contaminated water into usable sources,” he writes. “I hope to research these water treatment methods and technologies to standardize them throughout the industry, since they present an opportunity to further shift the world’s natural resource management towards sustainability.”
Employee of the LAPD, City of Los Angeles
Michi is a student at the University of Southern California.
Michi has recently returned to college after raising her daughter. “I am so grateful to have discovered Los Angeles Pacific University in 2019. I took a chance since my daughter was much older, and I decided to finish what I started many years ago. In December 2020, I received my Bachelor of science degree in information systems. I was so proud of myself, I decided to continue my education and apply to the University of Southern California’s Master of public administration online program. I was elated to receive acceptance, and I am so excited to participate in this prestigious program.
“I’m now in my 18th year working for the City of Los Angeles,” she continues. “I have faced many challenges in my career journey. I am very confident I will continue to reach my career goals climbing the career ladder.”
Daughter of Ray Moreno, Public Works/StreetsLA
Alicia studies at San Francisco State University toward a Master’s degree in special education and an education specialist credential.
“In my undergraduate career, I focused all my efforts on trying to learn as much as possible about psychology. My focus changed when I was hired at an ABA (applied behavioral analysis) company and was introduced to children with disabilities. I fell in love with how different each child was. Children with special needs are amazing humans who are smart, funny and unique, just like any other human in the world.
“In August 2019, I decided to take a leap of faith and apply to a school district to further my experience with children with special needs. I was hired on the spot.
“I hope to soon be finished with my [Master’s] program to begin my career as a teacher in the coming years.”