Oakland, California -May 18, 2011. At a gala awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Linen Life Gallery in San Leandro, five deserving high school seniors from low-income backgrounds were named the winners of the annual Andrew Fluegelman Award. Each winner received a brand new MacPro laptop computer, an Epson 630 wireless printer and one day of training on Google applications, courtesy of Google, Inc.
The winning students, and a brief biography follows:
Ezekiel Perez. Ezekiel is 18, lives in Alameda, and is a senior at MetWest High School in Oakland where is an avid participant in the MetWest Internship Program. He is intensively interested in marine biology, healthy eating, exercising and learning. An accomplished student with a GPA of 3.9, who pushes himself with his work because he values working hard and understands the importance of it. Ezekiel is an intern at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco where he flawlessly leads tours and answers any and all questions that come his way. Formerly, he was an intern at the Rising Sun Montessori school where he taught young children about gardening. His advisor, Michelle Deiro, says about him, "Zeke is going places and is determined to reach his goals. And I absolutely know he will!"
Marissa Yarbrough. Marissa Yarbrough is 18, lives in Oakland, and is a senior at MetWest High School. She has a huge heart and commitment to her family, friends and community. She is passionate about financial literacy and financial planning and is learning all she can about these topics through her internship at Edward Jones investment firm and also by taking extra classes at Laney College. As busy as she is, she finds time to teach a financial planning class to other students at MetWest based on a book on the topic she wrote herself. Marissa passionately believes that if young people understand "the color of money" they will have more financial choices and the power to break the bonds of poverty. She sees a bigger picture for herself and is driven to pursue her dream of becoming a financial advisor.
Selma Verdin. Selma Verdin is 18, lives in El Cerritto, and is a student at Berkeley High School. She has successfully completed the Berkeley Youth Alternatives "Steps to Success" program. Those steps include completing 10 work readiness workshops and participating in other educational programs. Not only does Selma hold a 3.77 GPA, she is simultaneously mastering the Fast Response Emergency Medical Program. Selma, the oldest of her siblings, is an amazing example that anything is possible. She plans on participating in the Biotech program at Laney College and Berkeley City College this fall. After two years of community college, she is planning to transfer to the University of California in Berkeley. She is looking forward to a career in the medical field so that she can help people who need aid and in her own words "be the one who makes the medicine."
LaShae Robinson. LaShae Robinson is 18, lives in Oakland, and is a senior at MetWest High School. A leader within the MetWest school community, she is also a member of the Oakland Unified School District's student government, the "All City Council." LaShae has an acute understanding that higher education will open many doors to her and she takes her commitment to leadership very seriously. For her senior thesis project she has created a documentary film on Black feminist theory, identity politics and oppressive media images. Her advisor, Etang Inyang, describes her as a "highly creative and self-motivated' person who is "very deserving the recognition" that comes with the Andrew Fluegelman Award.
Teyani Odom. Teyani Odom is 18, lives in Tracy, California, and is a student at Tracy High. She refers to herself as a "product" of the East Oakland Youth Development Center program where she won the KRON TV student essay contest two years in a row at ages 12 and 13. While holding a 3.0 GPA, she participates in a wide range of community programs including RESPECT, Positive Steps, the Tracy Animal Rescue Mission, Praise Dance Leader, and Mentor. An entrepreneur at heart, Teyani runs her own successful babysitting service, "T's Babysitting Club," hiring other youth in her age group. As if all this wasn't enough, she is a dancer, singer, golfer, and public speaker who enjoys tutoring younger children. During her freshman year she traveled to the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she sang with the Tracy High School Choir. Teyani is planning to attend Tuskegee University next fall and she is looking forward to opening her own café, art center for youth, and design studio after that.
The Andrew Fluegelman Foundation was originally started in 1985 to honor the memory of Andrew Fluegelman, who was the founding editor of both Macworld and PC World magazines and the author and publisher of PC-Talk, the first communications program that allowed personal computer to communicate and exchange files over phone lines. Andrew was also the inventor of a form of software distribution called "shareware," whereby publisher distribute their software for free and ask for donations from satisfied customers.
After suffering from colitis and being diagnosed with cancer, Andrew disappeared on July 6, 1985. His automobile was found in a parking lot next to the Golden Gate Bridge with a note on the dashboard that simply read, "Sorry." It is assumed that he jumped off the bridge, though his body has never been found.
A group of Andrew's friends and colleagues established the Andrew Fluegelman Foundation and began awarding computers to economically deprived but deserving students in 1986. In 1989, when David Bunnell, Andrew's friend and founder of PC World and Macworld left to start a new venture, the Foundation languished until 2010 when it was discovered that the funds left were still substantial enough to continue the work.
"There's nothing more satisfying," Bunnell says, "than giving deserving students the tools that can really help them achieve brighter futures. Andrew always said having a personal computer changed his life, and it was his vision that personal computers could change anyone's life, no matter what the obstacles."
The Andrew Fluegelman Foundation is administered by the San Francisco based Tides Foundation. It's daily operations are managed by Bruce Bouligny with oversight from David Bunnell.
For more information on the Andrew Fluegelman Foundation or to make a donation contact: firstname.lastname@example.org