Meet Our 2020 Scholars

How do you define character? Grit? We decided it would be by letting our 2019 Moe123 scholarship recipients share their stories. Their stories are stories of rising to the occasion, never quitting, gratitude, and lots of grit. Bright futures await each of our scholars through their hard work, dedication, and tenacity. We are proud to introduce our scholars below.

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Lauren Seeger is no stranger to getting involved to elevate her cause and fight for what she believes in. A senior at Osseo, Lauren transformed her frustration about inequality within her school district into the beginning of something big: Project Pass It Down, a grassroots system of mentors dedicated to providing resources and opportunities that connect students to educational and communal pathways to success. In March of 2020, Lauren and PPID will introduce a new initiative called In-TURN-UP (pronounced “intern up”) that will focus on each mentor reaching out to local businesses that are looking for interns and sharing interview skills that PPID’s students can use to secure these internships and prepare them for other similar opportunities in the future. This fall, Lauren will attend Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City to study history and psychology and hopes to participate in the school’s Harlem Semester which offers students the opportunity to gain insight into the causes of educational disparities as well as help create solutions for Harlem’s school system. The Moe123 Scholarship she has been awarded will help cover the costs of the Harlem Semester. 

LAUREN SEEGER

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A senior at Maple Grove Senior High, Madison Stoltzman understands the value of education in a personal and profound way that is wise beyond her years. An adopted, first-generation Chinese-American, Madison was directly affected by China’s one-child policy and landing on American soil represented the opportunity to begin again. Madison has expressed that “[her] ambition to be worth more than [she] came from outshines everything,” which has become the defining drive behind her momentum to take advantage of the opportunities before her and to show gratitude while doing it. Influenced by parents’ career paths and a desire to combine her loves of science and making a difference in others’ lives, Madison plans to pursue biomedical engineering in college. Through this field, she will strive to offer others a new opportunity to live through biomedical research, innovations, and treatments that will transform the way that America helps and serves the people who need it most. 

MADISON STOLTZMAN

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Education is the driving force in Lucy Lezama Espinoza’s life and she strives to position education as an empowering force in her community as well. A senior at Park Center Senior High, Lucy maintains a strong GPA a s full-time PSEO student - all to ensure she is in a position to make a difference in her community and world. She has already advocated for the Latino community by being a leader of Latino Circle, a group that seeks to create a safe place for Latinos to share their obstacles, fears, and find support. She has made it a priority to reach out, motivate, and be a role model to her Latino peers and every single person who needs one. As a member of Latino Circle, Lucy makes a point to bring any information she has collected back to the group so the entire community can benefit. While the journey might not be an easy one, she is intent on showing the future generations that it is possible. She aims to be the change she wishes to see in the world and is beginning right at home. Lucy aspires to become an immigration lawyer to help alleviate the burdens of others and continue to change the lives of people in her community for the better.

LUCY LEZAMA ESPINOZA

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For Emily Ellis, the road to college began long before her senior year. A senior at Osseo Senior High School, Emily has poured herself into AP and HP classes and has taken college credit courses since her freshman year all while maintaining over a 4.0 weighted GPA and working 25 hours a week in retail to save for college. With her mom as her inspiration and example of strength and diligence, Emily’s tenacity will pay off when she graduates high school with over 30 college credits ready to transfer. In addition to pushing herself academically, Emily also pushes herself on a personal level whether that means working to be a patient older sibling or her trip to Costa Rica in the summer of 2019 where she served and loved people in the country’s poorest communities. That kindness and desire to lift up not only her immediate community but the world’s community has inspired Emily to pursue human services and pre-counseling at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. In the future, she aspires to work with young women in situations of domestic and/or sexual abuse. No matter where her path brings her, Emily knows that she wants to be an advocate and support system and has vowed to do everything in her power to fight for, protect, and rehabilitate those who need it. .

EMILY ELLIS

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At one time, robotics might have conveyed stiff moving robots with computerized voices, but Sahana Vandayar has managed to smash those preconceptions through the power of connection. Her interest in computing science emerged from a challenge from a male classmate who told her, “girls don’t know anything about computers.” She transformed her hurt into an action plan and set out to prove him and anyone else who dared to doubt her wrong. After embracing her own love of STEM, Sahana set out to provide STEM-based education for students throughout the globe. As the first female Outreach Captain and Drive Coach of Maple Grove Senior High’s robotics team, Crimson Robotics, she has led FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League, Jr. programs in schools across Brooklyn Center (including Fair Oaks, an elementary school connection she shares with Mostafa!), Brooklyn Park, and even thousands of miles away in Singapore. All of this because she recognized the importance of providing STEM opportunities to the public - in all communities - not just the socioeconomically fortunate ones. In addition, she has used her platform to support a mentorship model that allows high-school mentors to visit schools in the area so that those students can experience robotics in their own classrooms for the day without fees or complications. Sahana anticipates that computing and technology will continue to be at the epicenter of her passion and eventual career has been accepted to Northwestern University’s McCormick Scool of Engineering and Applied Science where she will continue on her journey to continue spreading STEM opportunities on a wider scale.

SAHANA VANDAHAR

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