2020-2021 GGUSD Valedictorians
Bolsa Grande High School: Pauline Vuong will attend UCLA to major in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics with plans to pursue a career in the medical field and helping the underserved on humanitarian missions. She is proud to have served as varsity girls tennis captain for two years, being named Most Dedicated Player in 2018 and being named as league champions during her sophomore year. As President of the Math Club, Pauline is proud of the work of the team in setting up a virtual program to provide free math tutoring used by 150+ students. Pauline’s favorite high school activities include organizing the 2020 Canned Food Drive for the Homeless during lockdown which included 3,218 cans for a local homeless shelter in Santa Ana; participating in Bolsa Grande’s annual Lipsync Battle of the Classes; and her time with teammates on the tennis courts. Pauline’s most memorable high school experience is founding the first high school chapter of Project Vietnam at Bolsa Grande, a service-based medical club that serves to better the lives of the Vietnamese community. The club’s more than 150 members provided COVID-19 testing events, mask packing and vaccination opportunities. A resident of Garden Grove, Pauline is the daughter of Andy Vuong and Tran Tuyet Lam.
Bolsa Grande High School: Thao Do will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to major in Mechanical Engineering. Her academic accomplishments include winning first place in a Math Escape Competition and second place in a Civil Structure Competition. Thao’s favorite high school activities include International Week which featured cultural food and performances, Matador Games and STEM Club MESA Day. Thao’s most memorable high school experience was a mask packaging service with Bolsa’s student club, Project Vietnam. Thao said the club is special to her due to her Vietnamese heritage and the unique services provided, including sending masks and filters to areas with little access to protection against COVID-19. She highly recommends the club to others. A resident of Garden Grove, Thao is the daughter of Tina Tong and Tunhan Do.
Garden Grove High School: Amy Trinh will attend UC Irvine in the fall where she will major in Civil Engineering with the goal of becoming a professional engineer before the age of 26. Amy’s accomplishments include being named an AP Scholar with Distinction, earning the UNA-USA Ambassador Community Service Award, helping people get vaccinated as a team member of VaccinateCA, and researching political finance records and lobbying for climate education through YCAT Inc. Amy enjoys volunteering with Red Cross, Kiwin’s and National Honor Society; chemistry labs including the acid-base titration, colorimetry and potato clock labs and dedicating time to tutoring students virtually. Her most memorable high school experience was making and trying food from different countries as part of a cultural activity after the AP Human Geography and AP World exams. A resident of Garden Grove, Amy’s parents are Myly Nguyen and Henry Trinh.
Hare High School: Jim Juarez plans to attend Santa Ana College in the fall to pursue a career as a broker and an auto mechanic. The academic accomplishments he is most proud of are making Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll. His favorite high school activities are playing basketball during lunch and going on class walks. Jim’s most memorable high school experience is being named valedictorian, seeing his grades go from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s and winning Top Dawg (Student of the Week). Jim’s parents are Andres Juarez and Julisa Camarillo.
La Quinta High School: Tommy Nguyen will major in Computer Science at UCLA in the fall with the goal of becoming a software engineer and retiring early. His accomplishments include serving as co-founder of the school’s Robotics Club, receiving the National Merit Commended Scholar award and not being 5’1” anymore. Tommy’s favorite high school activities include Cross Country, Boys’ League Talent Show and Student versus Teacher Faculty games. His most memorable high school experience was running down to the beach after his first cross country race at Laguna Hills with his friends. A resident of Garden Grove, Tommy is the son of Henry and Tiffany Nguyen.
La Quinta High School: Giang Pham will attend UCLA in the Fall to major in Computer Science. He plans to pursue a career as a software engineer and hopes to some day start his own business. The accomplishments he is most proud of include graduating high school, reading and listening to nonfiction books over quarantine which led him to become more responsible and forward-thinking, focusing on his fitness, and tutoring another student so that his grades and habits improved. His favorite high school activities were a Knott’s Berry Farm trip in March of 2020, Boys’ League Talent Show and Fall/Spring Fest. One of his most memorable high school experiences was junior year before the pandemic when he would spend every Friday afternoon enjoy long walks and conversations with his close friend. A resident of Westminster, Giang’s parents are Son Pham and Tiffany Dang.
Los Amigos High School: Sebastian Lozano will major in Mathematics at Harvard University in the fall with the goal of becoming a mathematics professor and conducting his own research. He has numerous academic accomplishments including being a Simon, USC Bovard, and Gates Scholar as well as being named an AP Scholar with Distinction. His favorite high school activities include Water Polo and Swim, Dr. Mafi’s mentoring program, serving as president of Boys’ League and vice president of Latinos Unidos. His most memorable high school experience was a trip to Krispy Kreme’s at 4 a.m. with a group of friends. The students were given a box of free donuts and congratulated for their academic accomplishments. Sebastian cherished this time with friends while they are still together in high school. A resident of Santa Ana, his parents are Alejandro Lozano and Teodula Evaristo.
Los Amigos High School: Kenny Dao will attend Stanford University in the fall to major in Economics with the goal of being a Hedge Fund Manager and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. His accomplishments include attaining academic awards such as National AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction because these awards showcase the hard work he’s invested into his education as well as being named a Simon, Questbridge and Gates scholars because these organizations made his dream of attending college become a reality. Kenny’s favorite high school activities include tennis, volunteering and Key Club. His most memorable high school experiences were late night strolls through the beach with his friends because the calm rhythm of the waves and his friends’ joyful laughter created a tranquil mood he will always cherish. A resident of Westminster, Kenny’s parents are Liem Dao and Tina Tran.
Pacifica High School: Rushika Weerackoon will attend UCI in the fall to major in Neurobiology with the goal of becoming a behavioral neuroscientist researching areas such as learning, memory, and emotion with special regards to Alzheimer’s Disease or working in the CIA Directorate of Operations. Rushika has numerous accomplishments including being named UCI Regents Scholar and Campus-wide Honors Collegium Student, National AP Scholar, Empire League State Champion and Most Valuable Player of the JV Girls’ Soccer Team as well as receiving the Outstanding Chemistry Olympiad Student Award from the American Chemical Society, ACE awards for Human Geography and Psychology, and Scholar of the Quarter and participating in the Orange County Spelling Bee. Her favorite high school activities were playing high school soccer and winning Empire State League, tutoring math students as part of CSF, and being a Mariner Mentor. Rushika’s most memorable high school experience was screaming her lungs out dramatically in a performance of the play, “No Hay Que Complicar La Felicidad” for her AP Spanish class. A resident of Cypress, Rushika’s parents are Richard and Rosanne Weerackoon.
Rancho Alamitos High School: Yến-Nhi (Nina) Nguyễn will attend Stanford University in the fall with a major in Human Biology and possibly a double major in Management Science and Engineering. Her career goal is becoming an Obstetrician-Gynecologist. Nina has earned numerous awards and accomplishments including: playing varsity tennis for four years, and being co-captain for two years; receiving admission to UCLA and UCI, and early admission to UC Berkeley, USC, and Stanford; receiving the English Department Award and Science Department Award; being part of Rancho’s first AP Capstone cohort; being named a Finalist for La Vaquera (Senior of the Year); being named AP Scholar, National AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, and recipient of the AP Capstone Diploma; completing 14 AP classes while also participating in Model United Nations, Key Club, Student League, California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society, Girls League, and the Simon Scholars Program; and completing one internship at Advanced Dental Care and working four jobs at Cafe 949, Somi Somi, Ding Tea, and 360 Clinic. Her favorite high school activities include tennis game days, hosting the 2020 Food Drive and collecting more than 2,000 pounds of food for families in need; and attending Rancho’s football games and watching their three-peat league championships. Her most memorable high school experience was traveling to San Bernardino for a CIF tennis match, stopping at a park for a picnic and going home with another win as well as other great memories made that day. A resident of Anaheim, Nina’s parents are Vinh and Faith Nguyễn.
Santiago High School: William Hin will attend Yale University in the fall to major in Political Science with the goal of pursuing a career as an attorney. William’s accomplishments include AP Scholar with Distinction, Scholar of the Semester, being selected as Robert F. Lucas Outstanding Lieutenant Governor from Key Club International and Distinguished Lieutenant Governor from the California-Nevada-Hawaii Key Club District, as well as raising $5,800 for the pediatric trauma program. His favorite three high school activities include Key Club, Associated Student Body and serving as the Student Board Representative on the Board of Education. His most memorable high school experience was attending the Orange County Leadership Camp with Santiago’s ASB to develop leadership skills, and enjoy dance and spirit battles. He enjoyed performing a skit in front of hundreds of student leaders that helped him become more confident and extroverted. A resident of Garden Grove, William is the son of Sotta Huch.
2020-2021 GGUSD Salutatorians
Bolsa Grande High School: Julie Lam will attend University of California, Los Angeles and is planning to major in either Psychobiology or Cognitive Science with the goal of becoming a physician. Julie’s academic accomplishments include serving as president of Project Angkor and CSF as well as co-editor-in-chief of the school yearbook; receiving the Regents Scholarship at UCSD and UCI; being named AP Scholar of Distinction, Woman of the Month, and Athlete of the Month; and playing three years of varsity tennis. Her favorite high school activities include devising fun and creative English projects with her friends, planning Winter Formal and fun socials with an amazing Women’s League board, and participating in fundraising and events with Project Angkor. Her most memorable high school experience was losing track of time at school or school events and being able to have meaningful conversations and exchange advice with underclassmen and upperclassmen. A resident of Garden Grove, Julie is the daughter of Alvin Lam and Dai Nguyen.
Garden Grove High School: Ethan Dao will major in Computer Science at UCLA in the fall. His academic accomplishments include being named a Simon Scholar, Questbridge College Prep Scholar, Gates Scholar and class clown. In high school, he enjoyed various building projects. A resident of Garden Grove, Ethan is the son of Phuong Vu.
Hare High School: Natalia Leon will attend Santa Ana College in the fall. She is proud of earning a spot on the Principal’s Honor Roll from Hare High School. Her favorite high school activities were choir, art, and graphic design because she could really harness her individual creativity. Her most memorable high school experience was the school assemblies because she enjoyed the fun activities and seeing all of the school clubs in action. A resident of Garden Grove, Natalia is the daughter of Joan Leon.
Hare High School: Amy Valencia’s career goal is to work with wildlife in Australia as part of the Wildlife Warriors organization. She’s proud of coming to Hare, improving her grades, and finishing the year strong. Amy’s favorite high school activities were Spirit Week, going to assemblies, and participating in Poetry Club. Her most memorable high school experience was joining the junior varsity cheerleading team her freshman year because she worked hard to make the team, ended up loving it, and made many great friends along the way. A resident of Santa Ana, Amy’s parents are Samuel Valencia and Esmeralda Jaimes.
La Quinta High School: Edwin Montalvo will major in Biochemistry at UCLA in the fall with the career goal of becoming a physician. His academic accomplishments include 2nd Team All League in Water Polo, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, and Garden Grove Education Association Scholar. His favorite high school activities were playing water polo, Physics Day at Knotts Berry Farm and creating events for the Future Medical Leaders Club. His most memorable high school experience was at a KIWIN’s event called Liquid Run where he and his friends were able to compete on an inflatable water obstacle course. A resident of Fountain Valley, Edwin is the son of Edwin Montalvo and Elena Bazauri.
La Quinta High School: Kenneth Tran will attend the University of California San Diego to pursue his career goal of becoming a software engineer. He is proud of his nomination as “Most Likely to be the Grinch” superlative for winter festivities and raising his own strawberry plant which he named Yui Yuigahama because he became more responsible in caring for it each day. Kenneth’s favorite high school activities include tennis, Fall/Spring Fest and Homecoming 2019. His most memorable high school experience is playing tennis with his friends every day during the summer from morning to early evening. A resident of Westminster, Kenneth’s parents are Kevin Tran and Kristy Pham.
Los Amigos High School: Jessica Bui will attend University of California, Irvine in the fall. Her academic accomplishments include getting accepted into the six schools she applied to and receiving the Regents Scholarship from the University of California, Riverside. She is also proud of her leadership positions in Key Club including Secretary and Member Relations and Division News Editor for the Division Leadership Team. She is also proud of achieving more than 300 hours of community service through Key Club and National Honor Society. In addition to enjoying volunteering, Jessica enjoyed attending musical showcases and spending time in the library with her friends after school. One of her most memorable high school experiences was a field trip to Discovery Cube’s OceanQuest with her AP Environmental Science class because her knowledge about environmental science was broadened and she enjoyed engaging in experiments and taking a boat into the bay to learn about marine life. A resident of Santa Ana, Jessica is the daughter of Nhung Hoang and David Bui.
Los Amigos High School: Justina Bui will attend University of California, Irvine in the fall. Her academic accomplishments include accumulating over 300 community service hours and earning Silver Member Recognition for Key Club. She is also proud of receiving the Chancellor’s Scholarship for the University of California, Riverside and an acceptance to all the universities she applied to, some of which include UCLA and UCI. Her favorite high school activities include attending service events or socials for National Honor Society and Key Club, performing for orchestra as first violin, and spending time with friends. Her most favorite high school experience was a field trip to Discovery Cube’s OceanQuest with her AP Environmental Science class because it was her first high school field trip and she enjoyed spending the day in Newport Beach with her classmates and friends. A resident of Santa Ana, Jessica is the daughter of Nhung Hoang and David Bui.
Los Amigos High School: Iris Hong will attend UCLA in the fall where she will major in Environmental Science with the goal of becoming an ecologist or environmental manager. Some of her academic accomplishments include recognition as an AP Scholar with Distinction, acceptance to UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCI and graduating amidst a global pandemic. Her favorite high school activities were serving as Treasurer of KIWIN’s Key Club, volunteering with Kiwanis and National Honor Society and running track and field. Her most memorable high school experience is going to Pasadena to volunteer for the Rose Float parade. A resident of Fountain Valley, Iris is the daughter of Bok K. Hong and Sung H. Hong.
Los Amigos High School: Kimberly Vu will attend UCLA in the fall to major in Mathematics and is interested in exploring academia, actuarial sciences, and engineering fields. Her academic accomplishments include being accepted to UCI, Chapman and Occidental with the highest admittance scholarships, receiving an award from the Social Science Department and sharing the stage with her close friends who are also being celebrated as valedictorians and salutatorians. Her top three favorite high school activities include attending Fall Rally at Knott’s Berry Farm with KIWIN’s, attending pep rallies and watching dance and color guard perform and volunteering with clubs like National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation. Her most memorable high school experience was celebrating the valedictorian/salutatorian announcement with close friends with a late-night trip to Krispy Kreme and the beach. A resident of Santa Ana, Kimberly is the daughter of Tuyet-Mai Nguyen and Phillips Vu.
Pacifica High School: Thomas Bui will attend Brown University in the fall to major in Computer Science and/or Engineering. The accomplishments he is most proud of include serving as Executive Officer for Naval Junior ROTC, being named Naval Junior ROTC Cadet of the Year and competing in Naval Junior ROTC Nationals in three events (Drill, Orienteering, Brain Brawl). His three favorite high school activities include Naval Junior ROTC, tennis and basketball and community service through the National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation. His most memorable high school experience was participating in the Naval Junior ROTC Drill Season in 2019-2020 including weekend competitions, 5 a.m. practices, long bus rides, challenges, and stress and tears that were all worth it because of the shared experience with his team mates. A resident of Stanton, Thomas is the son of Tuong Tom Bui and Francine Dao.
Pacifica High School: Lucia Le will attend UCLA in the fall where she will major in English. She is considering pursuing a career in law. Lucia has many academic accomplishments including salutatorian of PHS Class of 2021; acceptance to Brown, UCLA and UC Berkeley; and has received a letter of Academic Accomplishment for Business and Entrepreneurship from UC Berkeley, NSLC; was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by Senator Janet Nguyen in 2018; and received a letter of academic accomplishment from the California legislature. She also served as Girls’ Varsity Tennis Captain (Empire League Finalist, 2021); NJROTC Cadet Commanding Officer; Honor Cadet of the Honor Platoon at NJROTC Leadership Academy in 2019; and NJROTC Brain Brawl three-time champion and sixth in the nation. Her most memorable high school experience was being selected as the top cadet to represent Pacifica at the Area 11 Annual Leadership Academy held at Camp Pendleton. During one week of intense training, she earned the role of Platoon Commander, leading a platoon of 40 cadets to win the Honor Platoon Award (most disciplined and accomplished platoon out of six) and being chosen for the Honor Cadet award, gradating as the top cadet out of 212. She also enjoyed making it the final round of Empire League for Girls’ Varsity tennis, finishing as runner-up to the championship title, along with the love and support she received from her team, coach, friends and family. A resident of Garden Grove, Lucia is the daughter of Gina Tang.
Rancho Alamitos High School: Celine Nguyen will attend UCLA in the fall with a major in Human Biology and Society, B.S. She plans to pursue a career as a physician and is considering neurosurgery or pediatric surgery but understands she has years to explore medical specialties. Celine’s accomplishments include Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award, Best Delegate at the 2020 Tustin Model UN Conference, Honoree at the 45th annual OneOC Spirit of Volunteerism Awards, Delegate at the ALA California Girls State Conference in 2020, and recipient of an AP Capstone Diploma and Rancho’s Social Science Department Award 2020. Celine’s three favorite high school activities are Model United Nations, Girls’ Basketball and interning for Boys and Girls Club of Garden Grove. Her most memorable high school experiences include starting two organizations: Arts for Relief, a community-based organization that uses the arts to encourage donations to mental health funds and helping to eliminate the stigma through infographics and blog articles and GENup Garden Grove, a chapter of a nationwide nonprofit for education reform and advocacy. Celine served on a GENup team that drafted and introduced a district-wide Student Bill of Rights. A resident of Garden Grove, Celine is the daughter of Nhon Nguyen and Amy Pham.
Santiago High School: Van Tran will attend UCLA in the fall to major in English with the career goal of becoming a journalist. Her academic accomplishments include becoming salutatorian, getting accepted into all of the colleges she applied for, being named an AP Scholar with Distinction, receiving the AVID Draper Family Foundation Scholarship, and earning more than 5,000 wins on Gamepigeon Word Hunt and a personal high score of 61700. Her favorite high school activities include volunteering for Key Club, watching basketball games with her fellow ASB members, and playing on the tennis team for four years. Her most memorable high school experience is hanging out in the library with her friends after school. A resident of Garden Grove, Van is the daughter of Huong Huynh.
Santiago High School: Vicky Ha will attend UC Berkeley in the fall where she plans to major in Business Administration at Haas School of Business. Her accomplishments include overcoming adversity during the pandemic and getting accepted to UC Berkeley. Her favorite high school activities include spending time with friends, watching high school games and events and staying out late. Vicky said she has many unforgettable moments from her time at Santiago High School that she will cherish but the most memorable was the last day of school before the pandemic as everyone thought it would be a two-week break, but it turned into a year of isolation. She’s grateful she had her friends through the pandemic. A resident of Garden Grove, Vicky is the daughter of Kim Hong Nguyen and Dung Anh Ha.
Santiago High School: Steven Vargas will major in Psychology at University of California Irvine in the fall with the career goal of becoming a forensic psychologist. Steven said his accomplishments include being part of California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; being named salutatorian; and growing from a quiet student to a slightly less quiet student engaged in his school community. He’s enjoyed participating in community service events; participating in basketball, track and wrestling; and spending time with friends while receiving a high-quality education. His most memorable high school experience was making new friends and enjoying the high school experience with them. A resident of Garden Grove, Steven is the son of Maynor and Noemi Vargas.