Student Essays Pay Homage to Role Models


An older sister who paid for braces, a boss who encouraged an employee to stay in school and a parent who opened the world to his stepson were among the winning essay subjects in this year’s American Honda/Mario J. Machado Scholarship contest.

The 12 winners included three Valley students: Siemny Chhuon of James Monroe High School, Jared Olmsted of Verdugo Hills High and James Simon of Chatsworth High.

The contest, named for veteran L.A. broadcaster Mario Machado, solicited essays about role models. The winners each received $1,000.

North Hills resident Chhuon, 17, a self-described “latchkey kid,” attributes her success in school to her older sister, Pat, who taught Siemny as a youngster to read and write, and more important, “the idea of sacrifice.”


“In the eighth grade I badly needed braces, and Pat decided to help finance them by giving my parents the money she earned at her summer job,” Chhuon wrote.

Olmsted, 18, of Sunland, praised his stepfather, Leonard Olmsted, who “chose to raise me in an environment where all my human senses were exposed to the world around me.

“He taught me the concept of a journey, that every journey is a person in itself and that life is a personal journey.”

Simon, 18, of Canoga Park, cited as his role model Connie Gonzalez, his supervisor in a summer job program with the California Employment Development Department.


Simon said he was on the verge of dropping out, but Gonzalez stressed the importance of staying in school. He returned, began earning A’s, and now plans to “help others the way she helped me.”


Summer, Fall Classes: Most local community college summer sessions are underway or filled. However, College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita and Glendale Community College have openings in summer classes scheduled to start Monday.

A listing of the classes offered during the six-week Canyons session is on the school’s Web site: Glendale’s second summer session is five weeks long. Details can be found on its Web site:


This marks the second year Canyons has experimented with three overlapping summer sessions, said Sue Bozman, college public information officer. Although community college summer offerings typically draw students who are home for the summer from four-year schools and recent high school graduates who want to get a start on their college units, she said students still enrolled in high school can have their fees waived at Canyons.

Fall classes for Glendale, Mission, Pierce and Valley colleges will begin Aug. 17. The fall semester for Canyons begins Aug. 20, and Antelope Valley College will start classes Aug. 24.

Admissions officials at all community colleges urged prospective fall semester students to begin the application process as soon as possible to get the classes they want and to schedule necessary placement tests.

Top Scholar: Tania Pendl of Burbank is headed for UC Berkeley this fall, after winning the largest single scholarship ever awarded to a Glendale Community College student.


Pendl, who plans to major in political economics at Cal, won the $6,000 Russell Halsey Turrill Humanities Award, established in memory of Glendale’s 1945 valedictorian.

In previous years, the scholarship has been divided between two recipients, chosen separately by the social science and language arts divisions. This year, both divisions selected Pendl.


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