This year the Los Angeles Fire Department Scholarship Fund awarded four $5000 scholarship grants. The Merit Scholar Awards are cash grants, made possible through the Jean Perkins Foundation, of up to $20,000 ($5,000 per year while the student continues to be enrolled and making normal progress toward a college degree). To be eligible, a student must be the child or stepchild of an active or fallen LAFD sworn employee. The eligible student must be a high school senior or college freshman, who will be enrolled in the fall as a full-time student in an accredited college or university. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit. The single most important factor is academic achievement, but the all-civilian Selection Committee considered other relevant criteria, including personal character and extracurricular accomplishments.
This year’s awardees were students who demonstrated excellence in academic studies, good character, high moral standards, leadership, distinction in extra-curricular activities, personal accomplishments and a potential for future success. The selection committee reviewed each application which consisted of; two essays, their school transcripts and two letters of recommendation.
Of the 57 eligible applicants, 10 finalists were selected to interview and continue the process. The combination of excellent applicants and a determined board, resulted in the selection of four 2012 Merit Scholar winners. A ceremony to recognize this year’s winners was conducted by B/C Armando Hogan at FHMTC on June 11, 2013.
This year’s six Runner-Up Award winners are to be congratulated for their outstanding merits. Each received a one time grant of $2,500. They are Michael Amano, Andrew Apodaca, Ryan Flynn, Katherine Martinez, and Max Shapiro.
This year’s “Best Essay” award of $2,500 was generously sponsored by the LAFD Foundation. Randy Hess of the LAFDF, presented the award to this year’s winner, Ciera Chang.
The four 2013 award recipients and their bios are as follows:
Kenna Arana is a graduating senior from St. Lucy’s Priory High School and the daughter of fallen Fire Captain Robert Arana. Kenna will be attending Columbia University. Kenna has studied classical piano and received a Level 10 Certificate of Merit. Kenna competes in varsity cross country and is the recipient of the Sierra League “All League Academic Athlete Award” in 2012, for outstanding athletic and academic performance. In addition, Kenna has received the “Christian Service Award” for outstanding participation in service activities. As the Regent Ambassador for St. Lucy’s Jackie Bristow Memorial Foundation, she was student liaison, responsible for recruiting registrants and volunteers. She also served as the Executive Board President of St. Lucy’s Chapter of the National Honors Society. Kenna also received the National Merit Commended Student Award and National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars Honors, graduating with a 4.1 GPA
Kaycee Ching is a graduating senior from Mira Costa High School, and the daughter of Fire Inspector Specialist Lloyd Fukuda, Legal Liaison Unit (38 years LAFD). She will be attending UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology. Kaycee is a flutist’ receiving “Superior Ratings” in 2011 and 2012. She has received the highest rating possible from the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association. Kaycee is a Mira Costa Scholar Athlete award winner in basketball. She is proficient in Japanese, receiving Proficiency Certification in 2011 from the Japan Foundation and Japan Education Exchanges and Services. She is a volunteer for the Red Cross and the Santa Monica Free Methodist Church. She also coaches youth summer basketball league. Kaycee is a Japanese Traditional Dancer and has performed at the Nisei Week Parade and Monterey Cherry Blossom Festival. She has earned the Silver Award with the Girl Scouts of America. Kaycee is a National Honors Society Member, National Latin Exam Silver Medal Winner “Maxima Cum Laude” and a National Merit Commended Scholar and graduates with a 4.0 GPA.
Emily Mayeda is a graduating senior at El Segundo High School and the daughter of Engineer Theodore H. Mayeda, assigned to F.S. 80 (24 years LAFD). Emily will be attending UCLA and majoring in Physiological Science. She is a member of the El Segundo High School Chorale. Last year the ELHSC participated in London during the Olympic Games. She earned her Black Belt in Shotakan Karate, in 2009. She is also involved in YMCA’s Youth and Government, LAX Food Pantry, and has been a volunteer for the Loyola Marymount University Special Games. Since 2009, Emily has devoted over 250 hrs. helping with the childcare, feeding, safety of a child with Opitz G Syndrome a genetic disorder that affects bodily structure and intellectual disability. Emily is a Link Crew Leader providing academic advice to ELHS freshmen. Emily has received awards for Principal’s Honor Roll, Certificate of Merit, has been a California Scholarship Federal Member and District 53 Hero Award recipient from California Legislature Assembly. Emily graduates with a 4.5 GPA.
Elizabeth Togneri is a graduating senior from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and is the daughter of Engineer Timothy Togneri, F.S. 60 (27 years LAFD). Elizabeth will be attending UCLA and majoring in Pre-Med. Elizabeth has been a Principal Harpist at Sacred Heart since 2009. Her recent achievement is reaching Grade 7 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Elizabeth served as a Campus Minister from 2010 – 2013. She has volunteered as an instructor to kindergarten students, decorated floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade, and packed Blue Star Care Packages for military personnel. As a member of the Pasadena Independent Schools Foundation, she reviews applications from charities requesting scholarship donations. Elizabeth’s academic achievements include AP Scholar with Honor Award, National Honor Society Member, California Scholarship Federation, First Honors Award, and the 2013 Academic Decathlon: Gold Medal in Art, Bronze Medal in Speech. Elizabeth graduates with a 4.3 GPA.
Chief Cummings paid a special tribute to Ron Fujikawa, April 6-1948 – October 12, 2012, a member of the LAFD Scholar fund’s board. Ron was an invaluable friend and colleague. His fellow colleagues on the board, as well as everyone at the LAFD who came to know him, admired his spirit, energy and ever-present good humor. He will be sorely missed, but he will forever be a reminder to us of the joy to be found in meeting and selecting these accomplished Merit Scholars.
We would like to thank Mr. James Carroll III and Mr. Joe Connolly, Executive Board Members of the Jean Perkins Foundation and, the LAFD Merit Scholarship Fund’s Board of Directors, John Anglin, Dick Barrett, Barbara Bagley, G. Louis Graziadio III, Tom Mizo and Robert Nicholas for their dedication and support of our members and their children. We are also grateful to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation for their sponsorship of the “Best Essay” award and to the LAFD Sertoma Club, the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, LAFD Historical Society and the Los Angeles Firefighter’s Association, Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union, who sponsored the awards reception.
The announcement for the 2014 competition should be posted early January 2014, at www.lafd.org/scholarship. Thank you again, and we look forward to the eighth LAFD Merit Scholarship competition.