Jailene Lopez, Camryn Downey, Jennifer Diaz, and Alison Paxter in graduation caps and gowns
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Moments That Made Waves This Graduation Season

by Making Waves Foundation

Making Waves Foundation » College Access and Success » Moments That Made Waves This Graduation Season

Celebrating Graduating Wave-Makers

Making Waves Academy Celebrates Graduates, Making Waves Foundation Grants Scholarships

Making Waves Academy celebrated its more than 75 graduating students and their families on June 14, 2022, at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. This year, 95% of Making Waves Academy seniors – known as the ‘19th Wave’ – are on track to graduate, and 100% meet the “a-g” requirements for admission to University of California and California State University campuses.

“We are proud of the Class of 2022 and of all they have accomplished. Our graduates have persevered through a few particularly challenging years to reach this milestone – including a return to in-person learning after an 18 month pause,” shared Alton B. Nelson, Jr., CEO of Making Waves Academy.

Making Waves Academy students at graduation
Making Waves Academy graduates celebrating at the graduation ceremony. Pictured left to right: Anthony Guzman, Raul Valencia, Cristian Caballero, Abel Duenas III, and Jesus Hidalgo.

This year’s valedictorians are Lizbeth Ibarra, who plans to attend Harvard University, Alexander Reyes, who plans to attend the University of California, San Diego, and Jaquelin Trujillo, who plans to attend UCLA. The salutatorians are Alexis Ledesma, who plans to attend the University of California, Davis, and Elena Ybarra, who plans to attend UCLA.

“Know that you are loved, you are celebrated, and you are going to change the world,” Ibarra shared with the class as a part of her remarks.

Through Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as the College and Alumni Program, Making Waves Academy graduates have the unique opportunity to receive scholarships, one-to-one coaching, financial literacy services and more to support them on their path to graduating college as quickly and with as little debt as possible.

14 Pittsburg High School Graduates Earn Scholarships and Coaching for College from Making Waves Foundation

We’re growing our impact in the Bay Area and supporting more students in Contra Costa County. The latest wave of 14 Pittsburg students – who earned scholarships and one-to-one coaching support from Making Waves Foundation – are heading to colleges from Howard University to San Francisco State University. Five students are attending Historically Black College and Universities, or HBCUs, and three students are planning to study nursing.

Photos of Re’Niyah Oliver and Brenten Williams, Salvador Sandoval Wence, and Brandon Williams in graduation attire
Pittsburg High School graduates from left to right: Re’Niyah Oliver, Brenten Williams, Salvador Sandoval Wence, and Brandon Williams, who are among the 14 scholarship recipients.

“We are proud of Pittsburg High School’s Class of 2022 and we are excited to welcome these deserving graduates into our Making Waves community,” shared Dr. Kristina Wright, coaching services manager at Making Waves Foundation.

“Each of these students has a passion for learning and dreams of obtaining a degree to enable them to give back to their families and communities. They are truly agents of change and Making Waves is excited to be a part of their journey,” she said.

“The best part is I know that they’re going to be there throughout the whole experience,” shared Re’Niyah Oliver, who is planning to attend Texas Southern University to study business. Brenten Williams, who is also planning to attend Texas Southern University to study business, shared a similar sentiment, saying:

“It means a lot having a team by my side as I go through this journey.”

Celebrating More Than 100 Wave-Makers Graduating College

This year, more than 100 Wave-Makers celebrated receiving their degrees from more than 20 colleges and universities across California and the United States.

Supported by Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as the College and Alumni Program, or CAP, the majority of Wave-Makers are first-generation college graduates. The program provides scholarships, one-to-one coaching, financial literacy services and more to support students in graduating college as quickly and with as little debt as possible.

Jailene Lopez, Camryn Downey, Jennifer Diaz, and Alison Paxter in graduation caps and gowns
Wave-Makers Jailene Lopez, Camryn Downey, Jennifer Diaz, and Alison Paxter are among this year’s more than 100 Wave-Maker college graduates.

“We are so proud of this year’s graduating Wave-Makers. Graduating from college is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself, but doing it during a pandemic adds a layer of complexity and called on our students to be even more resilient than they already are, so we know this year’s graduates are ready to tackle all their long-term goals,” shared Melissa Fries, executive director of the College and Alumni Program.

“I’m very, very proud to be able to reach one of the biggest goals that I set for myself: to complete college,” shared Jennifer Diaz, a first-generation college graduate who earned a degree from California State University, East Bay.

A criminal justice major, Jennifer graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors and is now beginning an internship with the State Bar of California.

“I’m very glad that all my family could watch me complete one of the biggest accomplishments that I’ve done so far,” said Jennifer, whose family, including her grandparents from Guatemala were at the graduation ceremony to see her receive her diploma.

“They’re very proud. It was a long journey. They also feel very excited and emotional. My mom and my grandmother are criers, so every time we talk about graduation they have tears in their eyes,” she shared.

Sharing Post-Grad Resources


ABOUT MAKING WAVES FOUNDATION

With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.