Meet the 2021 Superintendent's 21st Century Award Winners!
Each year, six graduating SFUSD seniors receive a scholarship for exemplifying characteristics of the Graduate Profile.
Kayvan Zahiri, Balboa High School
As a child, Kayvan enjoyed expressing his creativity through piano, drawing, and doodling. At 9 years old, surgery for a large tumor in his spine hospitalized him for six months and he lost his ability to speak, swallow, breathe on his own, and function from the waist up. He was afraid that without the use of his arms, his creative expressions were not truly his own.
At Balboa HS, Kayvan rediscovered his ability to both draw and design with an animation class, using computer software operated through his feet.
Kayvan has worked tirelessly for the success he has achieved. He quickly adapted to available technologies to return to the classroom in middle school and then navigate the halls of high school. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA for all four years in high school even during distance learning.
An SFUSD staff member said, “His contribution to the community will come from his emotional strength coupled with a focus on his ability and not disability.”
Kayvan is engaged in art, design, psychology, and social/political issues. Outside of his academic pursuits, he enjoys reading, poetry, music, and is actively involved in soccer and cycling.
In his own words, he says, “I will always be ready to create and find solutions for any challenges that I may encounter in the future.”
Irina Tamayo, John O'Connell High School
Growing up in a community where violence was common, Irina was inspired to show more empathy and help others. Instead of adapting to violence, she chose to change her perspective on it.
At John O’Connell she is in the Health and Behavioral Science (HBS) Pathway and pursuing a career as a registered nurse. She has been class president her sophomore, junior, and senior year and used her position to create a positive school environment while promoting resources for students. As someone who faced homelessness, she has advocated for and raised awareness on the challenges of many marginalized students of color, bullying, harassment, and the financial divide. She is vice president of the Sueno Latinx club and still keeps it alive this past year with virtual bi-monthly meetings.
Irina is an outstanding community leader, intellectual, and athlete. She is an empathetic listener, a sharp critical thinker, and a persistent advocate for social justice.
She believes that all her experiences with people from different backgrounds have given her the ability to connect, communicate, and relate to future patients and make a difference in someone’s life.
Romaissa Khaldi, Galileo Academy of Science and Technology
As the eldest child, Romaissa withdrew from school at age 11 to support her family in Algeria. Her mother contracted chronic liver disease from a blood transfusion and with her father gone, this left her with the responsibility of supporting her family. “This stressful period taught me accountability, patience, and resilience in the face of adversity,” she says.
Her mother, although grateful, recognized the value of education for girls and signed guardianship over to an aunt in San Francisco. At 13, she arrived at Marina MS, two years behind in school but quickly adapted, learned English, and in high school became interested in the healthcare industry. As part of Galileo’s Health Academy curriculum, she visits hospitals weekly, shadows medical professionals, and solidified her interest in pursuing medicine as a career. She is dually enrolled in CCSF and will be EMT certified by the end of the year.
She has been called an “authentic and confident learner”, she isn’t afraid to be herself and she expresses her thoughts honestly yet with humility. She achieved her first taste as a published writer through “We All Belong,” a student project with 826 Valencia.
Romaissa has always worked to contribute to her living expenses, yet remains focused on her extracurricular and academic responsibilities. She turned to academics and after-school sports as a means of personal fulfillment and self-investment with the goal of attending college and becoming a healthcare provider.
Lana Nguyen, George Washington High School
Lana started taking on responsibilities for her family at an early age. The strain of major health problems of a parent, combined with financial struggles were challenges that she met by informing herself on different sectors of healthcare, researching poverty, and the lack of affordability and resources that play a role in limiting many people’s well-being.
She asked the question, “How can I help?” and then dedicated herself to work toward increasing access to healthcare within her community. She championed a campaign to engage her peers in the high school’s Wellness Center through surveys, open conversations, communication materials, and a supportive environment that encourages students to seek help when needed.
Lana’s curiosity, diligence, and insight drive her to ask rich questions and then search for an informed answer. She has enrolled in extra classes every semester, maintained all As, held leadership roles in sports, clubs, and community organizations.
In May 2020, Lana co-founded SupplyHopeInfo to mitigate educational disparities and provide school supplies to 2,000+ low-income students. She has raised $40K for this project and has received global news coverage for her work.
Jackson Deng, Thurgood Marshall High School
Jackson emigrated to the US from China at age 9. Lack of motivation at the beginning of high school resulted in failing grades until he sought extra support and developed his own inner drive to succeed. As his confidence grew, he joined the Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC )Upward Bound, program which provided social, cultural, and personal growth opportunities and empowered him to want to lead and help others.
Next, he joined the Youth for Community Engagement (YCE) program at Thurgood Marshall, becoming a Senior Building Leader, and began teaching workshops. His leadership roles prepared him to take bigger academic challenges and risks.
Jackson has never lost sight of his goals and has worked tirelessly to overcome his obstacles. What stands out is his positive spirit, personality, drive, his genuine demeanor, and commitment to serving the children, youth, and families in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Caleb Parker, Mission High School
In 10th grade, Caleb made the decision to create his road map to college. He was raised in Bayview Hunters Point by a single mother. As an athlete, provider, caregiver, and student he struggled in high school until he committed to putting his academic journey at the forefront. He enrolled in San Francisco State University Step to College program and Saturday academic programs and took advantage of all the resources he was given.
He became involved in Project Wreckless (Black students learning mechanics and building cars from scratch), provided social feedback to the National Park and Recreations on ways to better the community, completed a culinary program with the YMCA, and volunteers with his church. Caleb organized feeding the homeless twice a month (providing prepared meals and toiletries) and after seeing how many seniors shop alone, he began assisting them with grocery shopping.
He is a member of the Black Student Union, African American Male Achievement Program (AAMA), Operation Genesis and participated in the Junior ROTC program, SF Achievers, 100% College Prep program and enrolled in AVID classes. His most impressive qualities include his leadership style and constant positivity. His energy transforms people and spaces around him.
This page was last updated on March 15, 2022