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Soroptomists award $10K+ in scholarships
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Eghosa Elyse Ogbeide listens as Soroptimist member Sherryl Price mentions her many accomplishments. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Manteca’s Soroptimist International Club awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships Thursday.

Senior High senior Sophia Schmiedt, 17, took home $2,000 winning the coveted Betty Bergthold scholarship.

 Sophia credits much of her successes in school to her great grandmother Claire Anderson who would babysit her daily from birth to the age of eight.  “She taught me arithmetic, taught me how to read, taught me how to crochet and knit,” she recalled. “She was my springboard into school as she was to my older brother Fletcher, now 21, currently attending Feather River College.”

Sophia started the student store at Sierra, is currently the vice president of the Engineering Club at school, played flute and oboe in the Advanced Band, high school choir, playing volleyball, basketball and softball for the last four years, is currently president of the California Scholarship Federation, and earned the Sandia laboratories Outstanding Achievement in Science Award. She hopes  to become a civil engineer after her four years at Oregon State University in Corvallis , Oregon.

The other scholarship award winner included Deseray Sanchez of Calla High School, Rachel Marie Weaver of East Union High School, Julia Tang of Manteca High School, Eghosa Elyse Ogbeide of Lathrop High, Yasmin Kaitlyn Balley of Sierra High, Melanie Rangel of New Vision High School with special recognition awards going to Megan Zambito, Michelle Whitaker and Amber De La Rosa.

Melanie Rangel struggled in school from a young age until she was declared legally blind four years ago, realizing her struggles were due to her eyes.  Melanie attended a school for the blind where she was taught Braille.  When her family moved to Stockton, she transferred from Weston Ranch High School to he New Vision school with an ultimate goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney.  She recalled an English teacher telling her that life’s biggest obstacles can sometime become a person’s greatest glory if looked at in a positive light.  

Melanie was lauded for the strengths and commitment she has developed in dealing with her challenges and succeeding in school.  

Julia Tang is a student at Manteca High with a 4.44 grade point average.  Soroptimist President Barbara Brocchini said she had the opportunity to meet Julia a few months ago when she was honored at the Girl of the Month for Soroptimist.  She added that Julia is a member of the California Scholarship Federation and the National Honor Society.  

In addition to her academic success Julia has received many other awards including the Sandia National laboratory Outstanding Science Award and he State Seal of Bi-literacy.  She was also a Questbridge Scholar in 2018 and 2019.  She has helped the Manteca community in many ways including volunteering some 256 hours in community service at Doctors Hospital. Her top three colleges of choice are Brown University, UCLA or USC.  Her longtime goal includes getting a PhD in Immunology.  Coming from an immigrant family from China, her siblings are currently attending U.S. universities. 

Sierra High’s Yasmin Kaitlyn Ballew was lauded for moving into a leadership role in the Associated Student Body first taking on the duties of ASB secretary and then as its president.  Academically she has taken English Honors, Advanced Placement European History, AP English Language, AP Biology, AP US History, AP US Government/Politics, AP Calculus, AP macroeconomics and AP Psychology.

Yasmin has taken and excelled in the most difficult classes offered at Sierra High and has earned a weighted GPA of 4.25 “which reflects her natural brilliance, diligence and strong work ethic”, one teacher wrote in his letter of support. Yasmin said she is thrilled about the prospect of attending Cornell University and majoring in Industrial labor Relations and becoming a lawyer. 

Lathrop High School’s Eghosa Elyse Ogbeide is in the end of her senior year with a grade point average of 4.25 and also a member of the California Scholarship Federation Club.  She is described by her teacher as a very busy student working in her church office and tutoring elementary school students. She played on the championship basketball team and participates in service clubs helping with fundraisers and volunteering.

She has served as squad and platoon leader for her JROTC and has achieved the Spartan Gold Award for achieving at 4.0 or better in academics.  The one accomplishment she says she will always remember is helping to organize the annual PBJ sandwich homeless outreach at her school. 

In the first year some 500 sandwiches were made and distributed to the homeless, with 600 made the following year.  The last distribution of sandwiches saw 1,500 peanut and butter sandwiches for adults and children in Stockton and in Manteca.  

It is her career desire to become a traveling doctor in the Third World countries where healthcare is not something that is easily affordable or accessible. 

Live Your Dream Awards went to Meghan Zambito, Michelle Whitaker and Amber De la Rosa.

Meghan is a young mother of two children.  In her second pregnancy her daughter suffered major complications and later when she was six months old the baby had to go through major surgery but today she is thriving.  Meghan is currently enrolled at Carrington College in the Associate Science program to become a veterinary technician hoping it will be a career where she can show her children, they should never give up in striving for their goals.

Michelle is the mother of three children and currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with emphasis in Trauma and Crisis.  After living on the streets for seven years she came to the HOPE Family Shelter – initially as a resident with no hope.  As she gained her sobriety back and learned to love herself again, she began to gain back all that she had lost – her children and her family.  At HOPE Family Shelter she was a case manager and now has worked her way up to Program Director and Client Services Director.

The final Live Your Dream Award went to Amber De la Rosa who is a wife and mother of two.  She was not able to attend the awards Thursday night at the Manteca Senior Center ecause she is in an accelerated program at CSU Stanislaus.  Amber has overcome many obstacles and challenges that have led her to the path of obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree as a social worker.