Last week, a special event was hosted by Options For Youth Public Charter School to surprise recent graduate, Te’yana Brown, 18, of Altadena, with the news that she had been selected by Southern California Edison as a recipient of a $50,000 college scholarship. The award is part of Edison’s annual Scholars Program which honors high school seniors interested in pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
The event took place on Monday, March 27th, at the Options For Youth (OFY) campus in Pasadena at 3130 E. Colorado Blvd. Brown, who graduated last November, attended without knowing that she was the guest of honor, but admitted that she “kinda had a feeling” that she might be called on stage. OFY Principal, Richard Moreno, began the afternoon ceremony by introducing Heather Rivard, Senior VP of Transmission and Distribution for Southern California Edison, who made the official announcement. Brown was cheered to the stage by her family, friends, and members of the San Gabriel Valley, Southern California Edison, and OFY communities.
After being presented with a check, flowers, and a medal to symbolize her momentous achievement, Brown addressed the crowd with gratitude, saying, “I’d really just like to thank Edison and all of OFY for supporting me in my high school journey. I just want to wish you guys the best and thank you guys so much, I love you.”
The Edison Scholars Program distinction is granted to only thirty students each year. But despite the selectivity and high honor of the award, the teachers, administrators, and support staff at OFY weren’t surprised to learn that Brown had come out on top. “Her tenacity and dedication towards her education and in pursuing her dreams make her an exemplary model of academic excellence,” said Principal Moreno. The Edison Scholars Program award is one of several scholarships and commendations that Brown has received, including the 2023 National Dell Scholarship and the 2023 National SchoolHouse Connection Youth Leadership scholarship.
In her application to Edison, Brown emphasized her ambition, hard work, and dedication to community service. In addition to her involvement with student council, the debate club, the robotics club, various community service projects, and the OFY Pasadena yearbook staff, Brown has held several internship positions at AltaMed, Goodwill, and Comet. She was a mentor and editor for the OFY Lions newsletter, as well as a peer-to-peer resource for dually enrolled high school seniors, and recently founded a non-profit organization called Education is Achievable, which strives to help students overcome barriers to reaching their higher education goals.
Brown also noted the resilience she’s maintained through extreme personal hardship, including overcoming serious medical issues that threatened to derail her academic progress. In her 2022 OFY graduation speech, Brown shared that her family had also struggled to maintain stable housing during her elementary school years, finding themselves homeless at times. She notes that her family’s situation has improved since then, and credits OFY for the growth and outcomes she’s seen during recent years, saying in her speech, “My teachers were kind and encouraging and prepared me for life in more ways than one. Whether it be preparing me for interviews or encouraging me to join student groups, OFY has taught me to express myself in ways I could never before.” Despite these challenges, Brown was determined not to let anything hold her back from her goals.
Karina Castro, one of Brown’s teachers, recognized her potential right away, saying, “I knew I was working with someone who was incredibly bright and very special. One of her greatest strengths is her kindness. It shines through to whomever she interacts with and watching her work with other students has been a true joy. Te’yana greets every opportunity with the most amazing spirit of gratitude and her optimistic mindset and ability to seek out resources has been an inspiration to me and the OFY staff.”
"We are so proud of Te'yana,” said Principal Moreno. “Throughout her time here at OFY, she has overcome numerous obstacles. Now, thanks to this scholarship, she is one step closer to achieving the career goals that she has set for herself. She is a great example of someone who embodies our core values of grit, optimism, responsibility and gratitude." With her scholarship money, Brown hopes to double major in engineering and business at Harvey Mudd or Pitzer College, and plans to continue taking every opportunity to help and inspire those around her.
For more information on the Edison Scholars Program, visit https://www.edison.com/community/edison-scholars. OFY is a non-profit public charter high school serving the San Gabriel Valley community. For more information, visit ofy.org.