GU4LA Student Wins $20K Warren Christopher Scholarship

GEAR UP 4 LA sophomore Gisselle Delgado-Velarde has overcome a lot of suffering in her life, including enduring years of struggles while growing up in a tumultuous home. Still, she has never given up on her dreams of attending a university and making a difference in the lives of others.

Now living in a loving home with her aunt and uncle and excelling in her classes, Gisselle recently received the surprise of her life. She is one of 15 scholars – out of 128 nominees across Los Angeles Unified high schools – to win the coveted $20,000 Warren Christopher Scholarship, which will help cover college tuition and other educational expenses.

“This scholarship means everything,” Gisselle said. “It gives me the opportunity to pursue my dreams, my career, and make my family proud. I am honored to win this award and makes me proud of myself.”

The program, which began in 1994, recognizes students at LAUSD who face real risks that their education will be cut short by circumstances beyond their control. The scholarship is awarded to 10th-grade students with the goal of motivating them to excel throughout high school and attend and graduate from college.

“I admire and respect Gisselle so much,” said GEAR UP Counselor Angela Jimenez, who helped the scholar throughout the entire submission process, which saw Gisselle work on her application and essay before school, lunchtime, after school, and anytime in between classes for hours over several days.

“She was able to focus all her energy into school and all that has paid off,” added Jimenez, who will join Gisselle and the other scholarship winners at an awards dinner later this year.

My experiences have made me stronger, more resilient. I know it can be tough to recover from certain situations and I want to be able to help people and show them how to use their struggles as a motivation to keep going.

Gisselle Delgado-Velarde, #GEARUPworks Class of 2024 Student

She is the first Green Design STEAM Academy student to ever be awarded the prestigious scholarship, proudly representing the caliber of students at the Diego Rivera Learning Complex campus.

“Gisselle is an outstanding student in every way,” Principal Dr. William Lupejkis said. “This achievement speaks to her and her family, to her counselor and teachers, and to her dedication to academics and citizenship.”

A GEAR UP student since middle school, Gisselle holds a 4.29 GPA, has participated in GEAR UP’s Jaime Escalante Math (JEM) program, is enrolled in honors and Advanced Placement classes, and is part of campus clubs and committees.

With GEAR UP’s support and her own perseverance to succeed, Gisselle has learned to face challenges head on.

“My experiences have made me stronger, more resilient,” she said. “I know it can be tough to recover from certain situations and I want to be able to help people and show them how to use their struggles as a motivation to keep going.”

“Gisselle is an outstanding student in every way. This achievement speaks to her and her family, to her counselor and teachers, and to her dedication to academics and citizenship.”

Dr. William Lupejkis, Green Design STEAM Academy Principal

Gisselle, a GEAR UP peer mentor, is considering attending UC Berkeley, UCLA, or USC.

“A majority of my college knowledge comes from GEAR UP,” Gisselle said. “They help us become familiar with college and give us the opportunity to see that environment and see what is available to us.”

She is interested in pursuing engineering, health, or law and using her experiences to make a difference in her community.

“At Green Design we try to foster student achievement, giving them a platform and a safe space to prepare for the choices to come after high school,” Lupejkis said. “We are so very proud of Gisselle and her achievements – it is always a bonus that others get to see what we have known since she enrolled in the ninth grade.”