Introducing Our 2023 Scholarship Winners
We are thrilled to introduce our Scholarship winners from the Class of 2023! They are an inspiring group of students who worked hard in their classes, stood out to their teachers and classmates, and gave back to our community. In fact they were so amazing, that we dug deep into our fundraising and gave ELEVEN awards rather than the TEN we planned on. We also offered a second year of support to our 2022 recipients to help them achieve their career goals.
After receiving a record number of applications, we want to expand this program to give away FIFTEEN Scholarships next year. To do so, we need your help!
Our 2023 winners with Trent Casillas and Laura DeSoto from the Alumni Association
Sponsor an NHHS Alumni Scholarship
Help us pay it forward to the next generation of Sailors by sponsoring one of our Scholarships. For a donation of $3,000 (to cover $2,000 the first year, and $1,000 the second year), we will recognize your name on one of our 2024 awards. You can give individually, as a family, group, or Class year, or in honor of a classmate or teacher. **
So gather your Classmates, talk to your family members or teammates, and sponsor one of our
Alumni Scholarships to help a student from the Class of 2024.
There are TWO ways to give!
You can contribute directly through our Donate page:
Or you can start your own Campaign to bring together
your classmates, teammates, family and friends:
Gather your Classmates, talk to your family members or teammates, and together Sponsor one of our Alumni Scholarships to help a deserving NHHS student. After receiving a record number of applications, we want to expand this program to give away FIFTEEN Scholarships next year. To do so, we need your help. For a donation of $3,000, we will recognize your group name on one of our 2024 awards. Help us pay it forward to the next generation of Sailors!
Click on "I want to fundraise for this" button when you get to the page
** The NHHS Alumni Association will oversee the application and selection process, determine the criteria for awards, and match one winner to each Sponsored Scholarship ($3,000 donation). We’re always looking for volunteers to help with the work of this project, so reach out if you’d like to be involved!
** If you have already given to our Scholarships in 2023 and want to add to your donation to reach the Sponsorship level, use the Donation form or contact us.
** If you are interested in Sponsoring a Scholarship for more than one year, use the Donation form or contact us.
Our Scholarship program began in 2017 when we awarded two $1000 Scholarships (which prioritize students attending a community college, trade, technical, film, culinary or nursing school). Through the generosity of Newport Harbor High School alumni like you, we have been able to grow the program to offer two years of support and reach eleven students. Overall we have given away over $100,000 to help the career dreams of these deserving students come true.
Donations of any size are greatly appreciated, so if you have $5, $50, or $500 to contribute to the next generation of Sailors, we’d be very grateful.
One of our 2022 recipients Emily Park wrote movingly about what this scholarship meant to her: “I am so grateful for the NHHS Alumni Association, as the scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and fully engage in everything the college has to offer. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the support and trust you have placed in me. Knowing I have so many people believing in me, I am determined to make the most of my educational opportunity and strive for excellence.”
We’re proud to be a part of that community supporting her dreams. Your donation will help continue the long Sailor tradition of giving back, so please join us!
*Special thanks to the 2023 Scholarship Selection Committee: Trent Casillas, Laura DeSoto, Sue Lindsey, Sara Robinson, and Joyce Shepherd
Thank you from Ashleigh McPhie, Class of 2020
Our 2023 Recipients
Abigail Aponte, Class of 2023, continued her education at UC Santa Cruz to study Clinical Psychology and explore the connection between science and spirituality particularly as it relates to depression. Motivated by the sacrifices of her immigrant parents as they fostered her dreams, she was active in AVID, the leadership of the Latinos Unidos club, and her church. She served on the youth council of Save Our Youth and helped organize a district-wide retreat for students to discuss community concerns and share their findings with local city council members. Her efforts were recognized with a certificate from the CA State Legislature.
Melany Casteneda Padilla
Melany Casteneda Padilla, Class of 2023, was thrilled to be the first in her family to attend college at UC Santa Cruz. At NHHS, she was an outstanding AVID student and enjoyed preforming in the Dance productions. She earned over 200 volunteer hours at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen where she was recognized for her willingness to do whatever was needed. Motivated by the experiences of her family and the low-income Hispanic community she served, she planned to study Psychology so she can pay it forward by offering quality and affordable care to break down the stigma of mental health treatment.
Emilu Cohen, Class of 2023, stood out on the Basketball team and as a sports producer at TarTV where she led the filming and livestreaming of NHHS athletic events. Her photography and design skills also made her an essential part of the yearbook team. She followed her dreams to Santa Monica College’s Film Production program with an eye toward transferring to a 4-year university and eventually making her own movies. After working to overcome a learning disability, she pushed herself in IB Film classes alongside her other college prep courses.
Jailyn Gallegos, Class of 2023, received real world experience through two ROP classes, Medical Innovation and a CNA (certified nursing assistant) internship where she shadowed the Chief Nurse at Hoag’s cardiac unit. This hands-on learning helped her decide to become a nurse and study Biology at Cal State Fullerton. She appreciated her parents’ work ethic and determination in migrating to America to create a better life. With their inspiration, she gave back to her community as a volunteer in the Police Explorers program, her church, and over 800 hours at Someone Care Soup Kitchen. An excellent AVID student, she was also co-Captain of the Girls Soccer team.
Liam Hamilton, Class of 2023, moved on to Santa Monica College with his eye on transferring to USC to study Business. Inspired by his experience in the Junior Mentor Program, he began the process to earn his commercial real estate license while still in high school. He was a stand-out counselor at Camp James and volunteer at Bracken’s Kitchen which aims to reduce food waste and food insecurity. Self-motivated, he began his own business called Donations Express which transported goods for donation that people did not have time to take themselves.
Jordan Lloyd, Class of 2023, succeeded in rigorous AP classes and went on to Santa Barbara City College for Video Production with the goal of transferring to UCLA. Fascinated by the art of film, she excelled in TarTv where she was quick to learn industry-standard editing software and served as project leader on the Grandparents Day video, the NMUSD Standard Response Protocol Safety video, and the “Dancing With The Staff” intro films. Appreciative of growing up in beautiful Newport Beach, she loved serving on the summer camp staff at the Balboa Island Yacht Club.
Eamonn McCullough, Class of 2023, chose a career in helping people after working as a Lifeguard at the Balboa Bay Club. He pursued this passion by studying Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science at Orange Coast College with the goal of becoming a paramedic and firefighter. A 4-year student in the Culinary CTE pathway, he stood out in NHHS’s Culinary program as a reliable teammate who always got the job done. A strong contributor to the Football team, he volunteered his time in the nursery at his church, at a food bank, and helping an elderly neighbor with chores during the pandemic.
Maggie McWhertor, Class of 2023, took the leadership skills she honed at NHHS to the University of Tennessee to study Supply Chain Management. Honored as CTE Student of the Year, she enrolled in challenging IB courses and excelled in the Business Pathway and as President of DECA. Fascinated by a wide range of activities and interests, she starred in Drama productions, was an officer for the CFS and NHS clubs, and President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She served in ASB all 4 of her years at NHHS, including as an excellent and encouraging ASB President her Senior year.
Dinally Navarro, Class of 2023, proudly achieved her goal of attending Irvine Valley College with the plan to transfer to San Diego State to become a nurse to help others during their tough times. Coming from an immigrant family, she and her mother experienced great hardship especially during the pandemic. With the support of her teachers, she worked diligently to overcome these struggles and focus on success in her classes. Despite her personal difficulties, she faced each day with a smile as she worked in food service, in the Coastline Occupational CNA program, and offered an empathic ear to her fellow classmates.
Jenesis Tejeda, Class of 2023, was inspired by her volunteer work with Someone Cares Soup Kitchen to pursue Biology at Concordia and give back to community by becoming a neonatology nurse. At NHHS she loved to challenge herself in her AVID and advanced science classes and was a cheerful leader for the Latinos Unidos clubs. In the LINK Crew, she served as mentor to freshmen students and made sure everyone felt safe and comfortable. Even when her own family faced struggles, she learned through their example to appreciate everything she did have.
Anthony Vasquez, Class of 2023, decided to continue his education at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo because of their hands-on approach to learning Business Administration. A valuable member of AVID and Boys Soccer, he enjoyed the demanding IB Business pathway and DECA program. During the pandemic, he shone through the difficulties of on-line learning and gave back by volunteering at a weekly food drive. He also tutored at the Wilson Street Learning Center in Costa Mesa so that younger students could get the kind of help he wanted at that age.
Our 2022 Recipients
“Receiving the Newport Harbor Alumni Senior Scholarship meant everything to me [because] money has always been a burden for us. When I received the news that I got accepted for this scholarship a weight lifted off my shoulders. So I'd like to give a big thank you to this organization for supporting my dreams.”
Alecxa Ahumada, Class of 2022, was thrilled to achieve her goal of being the first in her family to attend college at UC Riverside. Inspired by her hard-working mother, she was an outstanding AVID student on the Honor Roll almost every semester. She earned many volunteer hours by tutoring other students, at her church, and in a medical billing office. Her plans included studying Criminology and Psychology so that she can give back to her community by helping others make good choices.
“Receiving the Alumni Senior scholarship meant so much. Not only was it an opportunity that helped me achieve my dream of going to college and making my parents proud, but it also made me feel connected to my Newport Harbor. It gave me a sense of achievement. I was able to not stress so much about the financial aspect of school but was able to focus on my studies and being the best student that I could be.”
Alicia Airey, Class of 2022, continued her education at the University of La Verne to study Business and Criminology. An active student at NHHS, she enjoyed participating in TarTV, Link Crew, the Bridges club, and AVID where she was Student of the Semester. She devoted over 200 hours to Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, as well as helping younger children read at the OC Public Library. Motivated to help others, she wrote letters to elders through Letters to Rose and crocheted hats for patients suffering with cancer.
Orlit Colin Archundia
Orlit Colin Archundia, Class of 2022, took the skills she learned at NHHS to Vanguard University to study Nursing. Encouraged by her parents to be the first in her family to pursue higher education, she enrolled in challenging courses and the AVID program, and succeeded despite the complications of pandemic learning. Because of her dedication to all living creatures, she enjoyed her hours volunteering at Priceless Pets Animal Rescue and is committed to serving others in her future career.
Giselle Mejia, Class of 2022, stood out at TarTV as a Director of the fall student film and worked on a professional teleplay as well as Health & Safety videos for the District. She followed her dreams to OCC’s Filmmaking program where she hoped to inspire other Latinos to share their voices in this exciting career path. Even as her family faced financial hardship during the pandemic, she nurtured her creative spirit at NHHS in Choir and Dance alongside her other college prep course.
Sherlin Mendiola, Class of 2022, achieved her goal of attending UC Riverside for a BA and MA in Psychology to become a clinical psychologist to help others during their tough times. The first in her family to go to college, she shone in AVID, the Junior Mentor Program, and on the Cross-Country team. Despite her personal hardships, she faced each day with a smile as she volunteered at a soup kitchen, her church, and beach clean-ups. A member of Bridges and Latinos Unidos, she started her own club to be a safe space for those in need.
“I am so grateful for the NHHS Alumni Association, as the scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and fully engage in everything the college has to offer. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the support and trust you have placed in me. Knowing I have so many people believing in me, I am determined to make the most of my educational opportunity and strive for excellence.”
Emily Park, Class of 2022, was inspired by her volunteer work with the Surfrider Foundation to pursue Marine Biology and Zoology at the University of Hawaii Monoa. She loved to challenge herself, and became a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, as well as a competitive surfer where she was recognized as Women’s Longboarder of the Year. A talented writer, she gave back through SPAC, Surf & Serve, National Honors Society, and Red Cross blood drives, and lovingly cared for her grandfather with dementia.
Natalie Rodriguez, Class of 2022, moved on to OCC with her eye on transferring to UC Irvine to study Criminology and Computer Science, and eventually working in law enforcement in CSI or as a 911 dispatcher. She was a stand-out in the Costa Mesa Police Explorer program and was quickly promoted through the ranks to the leadership position of Captain with over 1,500 hours of service. At NHHS she enjoyed her CTE course in computer programing and took demanding IB and AP courses to prepare herself for the future.
Keily Velasquez, Class of 2022, received real world experience as part of her Junior year Mentor experience and decided to become a dentist by first studying Biology at CSU Fullerton. She appreciated the work ethic and positivity of her grandparents, and with their inspiration, gave back to her community as a tutor at the Costa Mesa Library and youth leader at her church. An excellent AVID student, she also guided the Latinos Unidos club at NHHS to celebrate her culture and connect with others on campus.
Ashley Wong, Class of 2022, succeeded in a rigorous course of AP and IB classes and went on to OCC for Film and Business Marketing with the goal of transferring to USC. A finalist for CTE Student of the Year, she excelled in TarTv where she learned to use industry-standard editing software and served as Executive Producer her senior year. Proud of her Indonesian heritage, she volunteered teaching younger children English and was also a leader of the Southeast Asians Learning English club to pay it forward.
Pete York, Class of 2022, became fascinated with food when he caught his first fish as a child and pursued this passion at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. A CTE Medallion recipient and proud Eagle Scout, he stood out in NHHS’s culinary program on the competition team and in the FCCLA community service club. Also on the NHHS Swimming and Water Polo teams, he worked as a Lifeguard and in professional kitchens, and benefited from his Junior Mentor experience with a food photographer.
Our 2021 Recipients
Alena Aviles, Class of 2021, pursued her interest in artistic expression at OCC’s Studio Art program with the plan to transfer to CSU Fullerton to study Illustration. The first in her family to go to college, she had a rigorous class schedule and shone as part of the Stage and Marching bands, as well as the Choir ensemble. She built upon her own love of music by volunteering with the NMUSD summer music program for children and volunteered with her grandparents to provide food to families experiencing homelessness.
Shaylee Cienfuegos, Class of 2021, stood out at NHHS for her academic achievement which earned her a spot in UC Irvine’s Political Science Department with the goal of becoming a lawyer. A dedicated AVID student who set high goals, she was recognized as Student of the Semester and on the Honor roll. She was an important member of the Marching and Symphonic bands, student clubs, and a Translation Ambassador. Always encouraging others, she assisted the NMUSD Summer Music Program to pass on her love of music to elementary students.
Yahir Gonzalez, Class of 2021, appreciated his own mentors so much that he decided to become a Clinical Social Worker by beginning his training at OCC. Following in the footsteps of his parents, he began volunteering in 5th grade at the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Libraries, St. Joachim’s Church, and NHHS events. He enjoyed improving his communication skills by serving as a Translation Ambassador for those in need and will put this knowledge to good use in the future helping others.
Ashley Gonzalez Flores
Ashley Gonzalez Flores, Class of 2021, took her talents to OCC as the first member of her family to have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Inspired by her brother and teachers, she planned to study Criminal Justice in hopes of becoming a Juvenile Probation Officer or Youth Correctional Counselor and help struggling teens find a path to success. An active student at NHHS, she enjoyed participating in the Dance program and with the Link Crew to welcome incoming freshman.
“Receiving the Alumni scholarship helped relieve the financial burden of going to college. More importantly, the scholarship made me feel as if the Newport Harbor community supported me in my next steps of education. It reminded me that the Sailor community will always be there for me. In the past year since graduating, I have learned and grown so much, but the lessons I learned at Newport Harbor have stuck with me throughout this new chapter of my life.”
Kendall Kelly, Class of 2021, took the skills she learned at NHHS to the University of Georgia to fulfill her childhood goal of attending college with a major in Journalism. A stand-out on the Softball and Tennis teams as Captain, she umpired youth Softball and tutored elementary students. She was a member of ASB, the Teen Project, CSF, and the NMUSD Mental Health Task Force. Honored as Student of the Semester, she was a favorite employee at Ruby’s Sandwiches as Assistant Manager.
Miles Marquez, Class of 2021, was inspired by his mother, who was a nurse, to choose a career dedicated to the health of others by studying at OCC. His eyes were set on becoming a Public Health Nurse and traveling the world to bring health care to those in need. At NHHS, he challenged himself with IB and AP classes and on the Football and Volleyball teams. He participated in ASB, Link Crew, Mock Trial, Model UN, all while working to support himself. He also gave back to his community by volunteering with the CERT program and the American Red Cross.
Gustavo Navarro, Class of 2021, succeeded in a rigorous course of AP and IB classes, and took his talents to San Jose State’s excellent Aviation program to become a professional pilot. A member of the Stage and Marching Bands, he volunteered at local food banks, tutored at his junior high school, served as a translator at area schools, and was a regular blood donor. He was a valuable member of the AVID program and managed to succeed through the difficulties of learning in a pandemic.
Nancy Velasco, Class of 2021, moved on to Irvine Valley College with the goal of transferring to UC Irvine to study Public or Global Relations. She delighted her teachers in AVID and other college prep classes with her willingness to engage in productive debate. At NHHS, she enjoyed the Field Hockey Team, Mentor Program, Halo Autism Awareness Club, and volunteering at a soup kitchen. She served as a Leader in Training at the Nature Center, and on top of this rigorous schedule, worked to support her family.
Our 2020 Recipients
Amra Barton, Class of 2020, was inspired by her Junior year Mentor experience with a nurse to choose a career improving the health of others by studying Nursing at Texas Christian University. At NHHS, she challenged herself with Honors and AP classes and served as Captain of the Tennis Team where she was appreciated for her cheerful leadership. She gave back to her church by mentoring children and traveling to Mexico to build houses for those in need.
Jennifer Camacho, Class of 2020, continued her education at the University of La Verne to study Psychology. An active student at NHHS, she enjoyed participating in the AVID program and the Marching Band. She was a leader on the award-winning Culinary Arts competition team and was elected Historian of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America chapter. Motivated to help others, she started a club that organized beach clean-ups and made care packages for the homeless.
Maggie Dufresne, Class of 2020, appreciated how Special Education classes helped her master her own learning difficulties and decided to dedicate herself to becoming a Special Education teacher by enrolling at Brigham Young-Idaho. She received real world experience in a Special Education classroom as part of her Junior year Mentor experience and as a counselor at Camp Friendship. Committed to helping others, she volunteered at the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, Project Hope Alliance, and her church’s youth program.
Adam Faludi, Class of 2020, took the skills he learned at NHHS to Orange Coast College’s Business Administration program with a major in Finance and plans to move on to a 4-year university. To give back to his community, he volunteered as a Youth Leader at his church and enjoyed working with the younger students. He was a member of the Swim team and worked as a Lifeguard. He was proud to earn his Eagle Scout and dedicated that achievement to the memory of his scoutmaster.
Brian Gonzalez, Class of 2020, pursued his interest in how things are constructed at OCC with the hope of studying Engineering or Architecture in the future. The first in his family to go to college, he completed six years in the Shalimar Teen Center afterschool program, where he was recognized for his ability to respectfully engage with people of all walks of life. He built upon his own love of soccer by organizing and coaching an elementary school team that made it to the finals of the Daily Pilot Cup.
Aldrish Jimenez, Class of 2020, succeeded in a rigorous course of AP and IB classes, and became the first in his family to attend college at UC Santa Cruz in Business Management Economics. A member of the Marching and Jazz Bands, he volunteered each summer teaching younger children in the District’s music program. On the Cross Country, Track and Field, and Soccer teams, he led as Captain. He was a valuable member of NHHS’s Link Crew, Latinos Unidos, and Make-a-Wish clubs, and earned a Golden State Merit Diploma and the State Seal of Biliteracy.
Oscar Leyva, Class of 2020, moved on to Irvine Valley College with his eye on transferring to a four-year university and eventually becoming a police officer. He was a stand-out in the Costa Mesa Police Explorer program and was quickly promoted through the ranks to the leadership position of Lieutenant. At NHHS he enjoyed the Soccer and Track teams, and an ROP course in CSI police investigations. Beginning his junior year, he worked in the front of house at Chick-Fil-A and helped support his family.
“Having the scholarship funds made my schooling that much more important—I was working to make myself proud as well as the Alumni Association. … I just want to say thank you again for believing in me and my future.”
Ashleigh McPhie, Class of 2020, stood out as the CTE Student of the Year in Film & Television and followed her dreams to OCC’s Filmmaking program. At NHHS, she served as the lead Special Projects Director for TarTV and produced a video for Grandparents Day. She was tapped by the NMUSD Superintendent to create a video highlighting the many special programs offered by the District. She was in the Key Club, the Girls Basketball team, and volunteered with Ensign’s basketball program.
Our 2019 Recipients
Forest Bauman, Class of 2019, majored in Studio Art at OCC to pursue his passion for creativity. While at NHHS, he took classes in many different artistic mediums, and championed the voices of minorities on campus as Vice-President of the Transgender Alliance. Because of his love of animals, he started the Wildlife Education and Conservation Club and volunteered at a local Parrot Sanctuary.
Devon Burton, Class of 2019, studied Liberal Arts at OCC with the intention of going into Library Science. Because of her experience overcoming dyslexia to become a voracious reader, she hopes to help children who struggle as she once did. She volunteered with the Key Club, helped with beach clean-ups, and was part of the Junior Miss Poppies program to raise support for veterans.
Isabel Burton, Class of 2019, was excited to begin the Aviation Science program at OCC in pursuit of a career as a pilot. Giving her time to veteran causes, she worked with Operation Santa Claus and Easter Bunny at the VA, and the Junior Miss Poppy program at the American Legion. Through the Key Club, she served meals to the homeless to address hunger in our community. One of her goals is to share her love of aviation to inspire other young women to go into this growing field.
Morgan Burton, Class of 2019, was so inspired by her IB Business classes at NHHS that she wanted to continue her education in this field at OCC with an eye toward entrepreneurship. At NHHS, she participated in the DECA program which prepares highs school students for careers in business. She also volunteered with the Newport Beach Film Festival, and coached younger children in sailing.
Jackson Dugan, Class of 2019, enrolled at OCC to study Business Management after enjoying his classes in that subject at NHHS. With plans to transfer to a 4-year university, he worked 22 hours a week to save money for college while maintaining his grades at NHHS. In addition to volunteering at the ENC, he mentored a younger student to help improve their grades and outlook on life.
Isabella Secor, Class of 2019, nurtured a lifelong love of the ocean which encouraged her to pursue Marine Biology at OCC. Spending 20 hours a week on the water rowing with the Newport Aquatic Center opened her eyes to the issue of plastic in our oceans, and interested her in researching ways to reduce the impact of humans on the environment. While at NHHS, she organized beach clean-ups and volunteered to mentor younger girls at NAC to share her appreciation of the ocean.
Our 2018 recipients:
“Receiving this scholarship helped reduce my financial burdens and allowed me to focus on my education… Thank you for your vote of confidence! I won’t let you down! Go Sailors!” Kyle Langdon-Weyrich (2018 Scholarship recipient)
Kyle Langdon-Weyrich, Class of 2018, attended Golden West College to study Communications and run on the Cross Country and Track teams. While at NHHS, he was involved in ASB, CSF, National Honor Society, and Bridges, as well as the Cross Country and Lacrosse teams. Kyle was as an internationally-ranked competitive downhill ski racer, and worked as a marketing assistant at Alameda Co, a deckhand on the Dulcinea Yacht, and at Balboa Beach and Bicycles.
Stephanie Becerra, Class of 2018, studied Video Game Design at OCC with the goal of entering the highly competitive field of character game design. At NHHS, she was part of the AVID program and volunteered more than 100 hours of community service, most notably with Working Wardrobes, helping veterans and low-income women gain self-esteem and become workforce ready.
Our 2017 recipients:
“I would like to say thank you for supporting me, helping me get one step closer in achieving my goal of becoming a nurse.” Calloway Kennedy (2017 Scholarship recipient)
Callaway Kennedy, Callaway Kennedy, Class of 2017, attended Auburn University with a major in Nursing. She loved her time at NHHS, especially playing on the Field Hockey and Soccer teams. Her volunteer work at Hoag Hospital while in high school both inspired and confirmed her desire to pursue nursing. Despite the rigorous coursework required of nursing students, she excelled and kept on-track for a successful career helping others.
Taylor Sterling, Class of 2017, attended Santa Barbara Community College, with plans to transfer and graduate from UCSB. Born and raised in Newport Beach, she was the fourth in her family to graduate from NHHS. While in high school, Taylor volunteered in the HALO program for Autism Awareness, was on the Honor Roll all four years, and was a member of the outstanding NHHS Dance Program. In her first year of college, she discovered a love of Forensic Science, and planned to pursue this as her profession.