Back to: Alliance Blog

Meet the 2024 Linked Learning Students of the Year

May 7, 2024 | Linked Learning Alliance

The Linked Learning Alliance is thrilled to announce the 2024 Linked Learning Students of the Year! This award recognizes civic excellence, honoring students who have made meaningful contributions to their community through their Linked Learning pathway experience. Awardees were nominated by educators and partners in their communities.

“The Alliance is committed to centering our work in the student experience. This award underscores how Linked Learning students are making connections far beyond the classroom to enhance their own learning—and that this benefit is mutual, carried into the communities and workplaces where these students are active,” said Anne Stanton, President and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “Our biggest congratulations to these amazing students! We are excited to watch them pursue their college and career dreams.”

Linked Learning is a proven approach to education that integrates rigorous academics with real-world learning and strong support services to prepare students for success in college, career, and life. Through Linked Learning, students learn in educational pathways that intentionally connect the classroom to local business and civic life to encourage students to discover their power and make a real difference in their communities.

Learn more about the 2024 Linked Learning Students of the Year:

Pricila Cardenas, Sports Medicine Pathway
Cajon High School, San Bernardino City Unified School District

Through volunteering and internships with the Cajon Sports Medicine program, Pricila has applied knowledge and compassion to provide essential support on the sidelines of student sports—stretching, taping, hydrating, and comforting student athletes. Drawing on this experience, she aspires to study biology in college with an ambition to enter the healthcare field as a surgeon, pediatrician, or athletic trainer.

In our sports medicine class we learned how to tape and prevent common athletic injuries. It was one of the best lessons because it was hands-on and I got to apply the skills into working the football games. This was one of the first lessons in sports medicine and it kept me intrigued on what was next. Learning a new skill, excelling, then helping others with it, conveyed to me that I enjoyed aiding injuries and pushed me to pursue the medical field. My biggest goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.--Pricila Cardenas

Anely Cortez Lopez, Medical Services Pathway
Gardena High School, Los Angeles Unified School District

As the president of the Medical Services Student Council and ambassador to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, Anely has organized numerous events to promote health equity. She was awarded a scholarship to the SHINE biomedical engineering program at USC, presenting research to local Title I schools. Deeply interested in public health advocacy, she aspires to work in obstetrics, aiding socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in Mexico and the US in overcoming barriers to quality healthcare.

My educational experiences have equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to survey various career fields and figure out my passions, especially those for medicine and public health. If it were not for the Medical Pathway Academy at my school, I would not be obtaining my Nursing Assistant certification or believe that I was capable of going into the medical field as a first-generation student. It opened doors and allowed me to dream beyond my greatest imagination. I intend to be the first in my family to attend a four-year university and pursue a pre-med major, increasing the representation of Latinos in the field. --Anely Cortez Lopez

Alfredo Gomez

Alfredo Gomez, PLTW Biomedical Pathway
Pacific High School, San Bernardino City Unified School District

Known for his tenacity in learning, leading, and challenging circumstances, Alfredo has built invaluable connections between his school and community. He helped establish a student-led team that provides training materials and lessons to local parents, preparing them to support their students in STEAM projects and future success. He also tutors peers in the classroom, has earned EMS and CPR certifications, and represents his school in various ways. Alfredo hopes to attend UCLA or Stanford and become an anesthesiologist.

When I have the opportunity to teach other people all the skills I developed, I feel most connected to my learning. I feel proud when I see how much people value the information I can share. -Alfredo Gomez

Maria Ignatencu, Engineering Pathway
Sato Academy of Math and Science, Long Beach Unified School District

Maria regularly shares her knowledge and passion to spark young students’ interest in STEM fields. She coaches a middle school drone soccer team, helps run summer and winter drone camps for elementary students, and regularly participates in STEM demonstration and outreach events. As she researches and develops plans for younger students, Maria is building her own confidence and capability on her path to the future.

My experiences in school have helped to see all the different engineering pathways I can take after high school. Field trips and presenters have shown me all the careers available and the kinds of education that I need to succeed in different paths that my life can take. I plan on getting internships for more hands-on experiences, and going to college to specialize in mechanical or aerospace engineering. -Maria Ignatencu

Sutter Lautenschlager, Engineering Pathway
Harmony Magnet Academy, Porterville Unified School District

A member of his district’s Energy and Sustainability Program team, Sutter has collected data to identify and resolve issues with solar energy systems and collaborated on a budget to replace the district’s aging HVAC systems. He is also part of the Associated Student Body and he plays a variety of leadership roles across student organizations. Sutter plans to attend College of the Sequoias and the University of California, Irvine, studying computer engineering.

At Harmony Magnet, the pathways program has really made it clear as to what college beholds, and my engineering class closely relates to what I believe may be a future job one day. I want to major in computer engineering and get a masters in either business administration or entrepreneurship. I plan to become a sales engineer, which combines both technical and social skills in order to sell products within the field of technology. -Sutter Lautenschlager

Bibhabari Mohanty, Biomedical/Biotechnology Pathway
Reseda Charter High School Science Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District

Bibhabari is a leader within her school’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Associated Student Body and community. Locally, she participates in green space cleanups and toy and food drives to support local community groups. She is also part of the International Internship Public Health Program, designing public health surveys and workshops for vulnerable communities. After high school, Bibhabari hopes to pursue an M.D. and Ph.D. in biological or biomedical sciences.

Throughout my experiences and academic journey, I felt most connected when I began to take part in a biotechnology research internship at my local community college. Almost instantly, I felt a sense of belonging. I loved everything about going through the scientific process and experimental design procedures that real-world scientists and medical researchers do. I had the hands-on opportunity to conduct lab procedures and learn more about the field of biotechnology and medical research. This program motivated and inspired me greatly to pursue a career in this field. -Bibhabari Mohanty

Amarie-Sanaa Owens, Engineering Pathway
School of Engineering and Sciences, Sacramento City Unified School District

Amarie spearheaded a robotics team initiative that hosts free engineering and science workshops for girls ages 4 to 12 to help increase the number of women in STEM careers. She leads engineering facility tours for participants in a program of the Sacramento Space Society, which sends small experiments into space. She also leads school tours for prospective families. Amarie plans to attend California State University, Los Angeles, and prepare for a career in electrical engineering.

My pathway has always provided me with the plan, tools, and experiences to follow any career I wanted. Through experiences like being a member of my school’s Solar Regatta team, where we built and raced solar powered boats, to joining the robotics team, and learning through class projects, I now know I want to pursue a career in electrical engineering. -Amarie-Sanaa Owens

Ashley Perez Sanchez, Architecture and Construction Academy
Fremont High School, Oakland Unified School District

As part of a college-level woodworking course, Ashley was invited to help build a series of planters to beautify a local Native American restaurant and, later, to create large benches for a memorial garden honoring a district employee. In both cases, this shy student took the lead, organizing and motivating her classmates to create high quality structures that enhance the community. After graduation, Ashley hopes to study interior design at San Francisco State University.

I remember first learning about building chairs and cabinets. I got to use really cool tools which I had no experience working with, but I knew I had fun learning to build and finding solutions to any problem my group had. I felt so connected to the learning, especially working in a group where we all shared our ideas and made it happen. I love working with my hands knowing that I can build something with the skills I’ve learned and am grateful to my teachers. -Ashley Perez Sanchez

Brent Shewfelt, Global Media Studies Pathway
Cleveland High School, Los Angeles Unified School District

Brent served on the Teen Council at the Academy Museum, helping develop and advise programs. As a mentor with his school’s summer bridge program, he helped incoming freshmen become aware of the Global Media Studies Pathway. In addition to these leadership roles, Brent is known for his work in student filmmaking and poetry. After high school he plans to pursue a degree in creative writing.

Reading and discussing our books in class helped me realize how words have much value, and made me interested in reading again. My pathway helped me believe that I am able to make change or have a positive impact in the world. -Brent Shewfelt

Esperanza Soza, Building and Construction Pathway
Cajon High School, San Bernardino City Unified School District

Esperanza has played a leadership role within her pathway and as a member of her school’s e-commerce club, organizing projects, building camaraderie, and leading change. As part of outreach programs, she gained hands-on experience in addressing community needs related to her multiple interests. Already accepted into five colleges, Esperanza is contemplating careers in math teaching and architecture—in either case, aiming to give back and create a lasting impact.

Kids like me need a connection with learning to help them grow. My Building and Trades class not only helped me be creative and make my creativity a reality, but also improved my math skills and most importantly, my communication with my peers--it’s even helped me get a part time job. The teacher made me love and feel a connection with my learning so much, I’d love to be a teacher just like him. -Esperanza Soza

Beau Traxler, Video Production Pathway
Quartz Hill High School, Antelope Valley Union High School District

Beau has grown into a true leader not only with their pathway but also across campus more broadly. An intelligent, inspirational teammate, Beau exudes a contagious positive energy, and often makes time to work with others and prepare for the future. After graduation, Beau aspires to attend the University of Southern California, majoring in the business of cinematic arts.

Being part of the film academy has given me the chance to work on many exciting yet positively challenging projects. This has truly pushed me while simultaneously helping me to grow and connect with my art and love for creating within the world of cinema. It’s shown me that I can pursue a career in film and truly be prepared because of the experience I have collected along the way. -Beau Traxler