Outstanding students earn Les Miller award

COSTA MESA — The Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce over breakfast Friday recognized high school seniors and local college students for going above and beyond.

The chamber honored students who excelled in academics, community service and athletics at the 32nd annual Les Miller Scholarship Recognition Breakfast at the Hilton Costa Mesa.

"These kids have so much going for them," said chamber President Ed Fawcett. "I just wanted to do everything I could to encourage them."

The top 5% of the district's high schools were recognized and the very best of those students were given the Les Miller Outstanding Student Award. Miller was Costa Mesa's first principal.

High school students Andrew Tenno, Jennifer Kumar, James Nelson, Jessica Lyons, Angeline Hong, Daria Farris, Devan Davison, Justine Alonzo, Catherine Ferrara and Ryan Jenkins were awarded.

College students Bernardo Cervantes, Hasti Ahangi, Andre Abrantes and Heather Hernandez were given the award.

All the students recognized boasted GPAs of more than 4.0, numerous extracurricular activities, leadership positions and community service hours.

"It just felt great," said 18-year-old Davison, a Costa Mesa High School senior. "It was such an honor to be recognized."

The Outstanding Athletics Award was also given to Matt Moynihan, Sarah Toberty, Christian de Glymes, Sarah Boyd, Tomislav Colic and Gabriela Bergmoanova.

A short list of each honorees accomplishments was read out loud, but it was 17-year-old Ryan's story that brought tears to some audience members and his career counselor Anne Younglove, who started his story.

Ryan ended up at Back Bay High School, the continuation school, in his junior year after returning from living abroad in New Zealand. He found out that he could not transfer all the credits from his two prior years there.

He caught up on credits and transferred to Monte Vista for independent study, but wasn't able to take all the classes that he needed for applying to a four-year university, he said.

Instead of admitting defeat, he went around the system, taught himself trigonometry in a month and scored high enough on the SATs to gain acceptance to half-a-dozen universities.

He will be attending Cal State Long Beach in the fall.

"It was rewarding in the end," he said.

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