Bertha Kalm Scholarship Recipients 2020-2021

Find out more about our Bertha Kalm Scholarship recipients and hear what drives their passion to make a difference.

Recipient Response

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Paloma Contreras

Counselor Education

“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to give back to my community by working as a School Counselor Intern at Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD). However, through this work, I saw that there was a shortage of school counselors and many unaddressed needs in this community. Thus, I look forward to using my counseling, grant writing, and research background to assist the ARUSD Student Services administration in advocating for this community’s need for more school counseling and early intervention resources.

I am lucky that I can do my part in helping the community and work with passionate and hardworking educators and administrators. Hopefully, as I become a school counselor in the future, I can continue to advocate for other communities in San Jose and beyond.”

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Briann DeOrnellas

Applied Anthropology

“There are many things that have contributed to my desire to make a difference in the world.  Some of it is personal experience, but it also includes the knowledge of the struggles or suffering of others, awareness of injustices that contribute to that suffering, and education about the systems and ideologies that enable the perpetuation of these injustices.

I also have strong feelings of empathy and a responsibility to contribute positively to society, especially among those who need support the most. I strongly believe the words that my (at the time) seven-year-old son had written on his sign for a protest: “Everyone needs to participate.  Make the world a better place.”  All of these feelings, sentiments, and experiences fuel my passion to make a difference.  Finally, I want to say: Black lives matter.  And capitalism is toxic for societies and the planet.”

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Lupe Franco

Environmental Studies

“My passion to make a difference in this world stems from an ongoing battle that many before me have fought. As a first-generation latinx student, I was brought up in an unjust society where Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), as well as low-income communities, have inequitable access to high-quality resources. And in turn, this oppresses and diminishes our quality of life. Through my work, I intend to address these injustices placed on marginalized communities as I aspire to fight for the inclusion of unhoused individuals and their voices, as they are consistently excluded from the conversations that affect their livelihoods. As climate change continues to disproportionately affect the global population, we must develop an equitable plan where all individuals, including unhoused communities, are included and protected.”
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Elizabeth Hutton

Public Administration


“I have always had an inherent propensity towards fairness, a belief that all people have worth, and that diversity should be celebrated. 
As an undergraduate and graduate student, I discovered the National Association of Social Workers’ and American Society for Public Administration’s Codes of Ethics which articulate a set of values and principles that align with my belief system and aspirations.

My passion for a meaningful career that promotes social justice, being of service to others, and advancement of the public’s interests over my own is driven by a deep-rooted certainty that all people deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion under the laws and constitutions of government. I believe society has an obligation to develop policies and programs that protect and care for the older adult population. I feel a personal obligation and need to be a democratic participant in the ongoing efforts striving to make that happen.”

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Diana Zamudio-Garcia

Chincana/o Studies

"As a working-class Chicana with a disability from Salinas, California, the reality of the systemic practice of racial and ethnic marginalization within my comunidad has been a part of mi cultura y identidad.

I have experienced the burdens of systemic oppression first-hand, and I have learned about structural processes that disregard different members of our society; hence, I am dedicated to continuing my growth as a scholar in the service of my community and as an ethical and critical thinking educator in our multicultural and increasingly interconnected global society to be a community leader who uses education to solve pressing societal issues. I am very passionate about new pedagogical approaches that revolve around the promise to connect the social sciences to cultural expression, identity formation, and community empowerment, and I strongly believe we can accomplish the betterment of la comunidad and community empowerment through acquiring higher education and expanding these opportunities to those who come after us. 
In this light, I strive to use my education to provide opportunities to youths from underserved communities, and to create learning spaces that develop cultural practices, ontologies, and epistemologies to inspire underrepresented communities to overcome burdens, achieve their full potential, and to strive for transformative resistance without losing perspective of the individuals represented."