MJ MARGGRAFF

Ten Exceptional Local Women Honored with AAUW OML Scholarships

Submitted by Sandra Fox-Sohner and Mary Ann McLeod – La Morinda Weekly

Madeline Wilson experiences the virtual reality headset.

The Orinda-Moraga-Lafayette branch of the Association of University Women honored 10 remarkable young women from Lamorinda schools April 19 with Tech Trek camp scholarships and college scholarships. AAUW’s mission is to break down barriers for women and girls by promoting education and equity.

Six middle school girls, passionate about science and math, were awarded with full scholarships to the science and math Tech Trek Camp that will be held on the Stanford campus this July. In addition, $5,000 and $1,000 community service scholarships were award to three high school young women and a $5,000 graduate studies scholarship was awarded to a Saint Mary’s College student.
The six AAUW OML 2015 Tech Trek scholarship winners are Madeline House and April Lindblad from Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, Sophia Kofoed and Caroline Ruppert from Orinda Intermediate School, and Samantha Swan and Madeline Wilson from Stanley Middle School.

These Tech Trek scholarship winners wowed the April Awards Ceremony attendees with their presentations describing their curiosity and love of science. Their interests and activities include curing disease, studying the universe, researching marine biology, solving environmental problems, engineering games and electronics, building robots, working with 3-D printers, and computer coding. These girls will shape our future. They were chosen after a rigorous process of being nominated by their teachers, completing an application, and being interviewed by a team of three AAUW OML members. Teachers nominated 44 Lamorinda girls in total, and several teachers attended the award ceremony to honor the six scholarship winners.

The goals of AAUW’s High School and College Scholarships are to encourage local young women graduates who demonstrate academic excellence and weave a commitment to community service into their lives. The average GPA for 14 applicants was 4.1. The four awardees described their stories of growth and life lessons learned through community service to attendees at this AAUW OML annual celebration.

The three high school awardees enriched their school community by participating in tech and science clubs, athletic teams, and musical programs. Chabot Space and Science Museum, Sister 2 Sister, Benioff Children’s Hospital, Contra Costa Animal Shelter and Performers for Progress are local community projects that benefitted from their service. The 2015 AAUW -OML Scholarships were awarded to Maritza Grillo (Miramonte High School), Morgan Matranga (Campolindo High School) and Casey Everitt (Acalanes High School).

Yadira Guerrero-Garcia, a senior at Saint Mary’s College, was awarded the Community Service Scholarship because she demonstrated leadership potential. She founded the Ballet Folklorico Guadalupano to develop cultural awareness on campus. A member of the Santiago Community, Yadira organized service trips and served people through food drives, senior center visits, mentoring children and assisting single mothers.

MJ Marggraff, commercial pilot and mission support for Virgin Galactic inspired the scholarship winners, their families and friends, and the AAUW members with her stories of learning to fly, conquering her fears, and following her passion. She shared what it takes to have the ‘New Right Stuff’ from her world of aviation, sub-orbital space flight preparation, and from recent interviews of astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS). One highlight of her presentation was the video taken of her enjoying arduous space training in the NASTAR flight simulator, a centrifuge where she experienced 5G, five times the normal force of gravity. She encouraged all scholarship winners to do what it takes to follow their dreams.