May is a very special month for South Pasadena’s Oneonta Club. May is when the Club presents an Oneonta Club Foundation $10,000 Swan Scholarship to each of three South Pasadena High School graduating seniors, and $2,000 in grants to Teachers
By Dean Sheldon Serwin
The Oneonta Club has awarded nearly 140 deserving SPHS students with cash scholarships since 1955. Once more this year, the master of ceremonies at the meeting this past Monday, May 9th, was Dan Evans, one of the 1955 winners (although Dan only received $100 back then).
The Foundation selected the three students from more than three dozen highly-qualified applicants. “It is a relief that I don’t have to pick between the finalists,” confides Foundation president Bill Cullinane, “because the candidates are all so remarkable, and this year was no exception”.
ALYSSA CHAN aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, learned surgical skills in a summer internship at Stanford, and volunteered at the Huntington Hospital. Alyssa also played on the HS basketball team where she served as captain, was named 2022 defensive player of the year, and was selected for the All- Rio Hondo League First team. Alyssa plans to study molecular and cellular biology at UC Berkeley.
LAURIAN LIEN intends to become an aerospace engineer, and an astronaut. Laurian has developed an enthusiasm for mathematics, and volunteered for “Calculus for a Cause”. She served as captain of the SPHS varsity swim team, where she twice won the Coaches Award. Laurian also became a professional sound engineer for The Way, received awards for graphic design, served as president of the Urban Sustainability Club, and for three summers flew to Kyrgystan where she taught English. Laurian will study aerospace engineering at Purdue University.
CONNOR WANG has already taken all the mathematics courses offered at PCC, where he “discovered a side of math filled with artistry”. Conner has developed a passion for the capability of computer science to contribute to other fields, like the summer research program at Caltech analyzing genomic data to research codon usage bias. Not limited to math, Conner has a passion for rock climbing, and has secured two separate grants to provide rock climbing sessions for underprivileged youth. He also explores the music of Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi on the piano. Conner will study applied mathematics at UCLA.
The other May meeting tradition honors the South Pasadena Unified School District’s teachers of the year. Elementary Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Detterich of Monterey Hills School was introduced by MHS Principal, Dr. Laurie Narro. An educator for about 20 years, nine of those at Monterey Hills, Detterich was recognized for her caring work with 3rd – 5th grade students who need specialized academic instruction.
Introduced by SPHS John Eldred, Maryann Nielsen, the South Pasadena High School teacher is also a graduate from SPHS, returning to teach in 2005. In addition to teaching History and Government classes, Nielsen serves as the Social Studies Department Chair, member of the Tiger Bingo Committee, and leads a group of students to Washington D.C. each year through Close Up Washington.
In addition to being named South Pasadena Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year by their peers, these teachers each received a $1,000 honorarium and commemorative plaque from the Oneonta Foundation. “We are all proud to be part of this great community and to honor both its outstanding students and amazing educators, like Jennifer and Maryann,” remarked Oneonta Club president, Tom Polansky. “What thrills me is how tight our community is. One of the principals taught a Scholarship winner’s mother, and several Oneonta Club members were themselves teachers or principals for Maryann.
Dean Serwin, an attorney based in South Pasadena, is a board member of the Oneonta Foundation.
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)