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  1. Slide 1

Watts-area Students are Recognized for Community Leadership

“I never planned to be a leader,” said Camren Hudson, graduating senior from King Drew Medical Magnet High School in South Los Angeles. Hudson, who plans to attend Morehouse College this fall, along with nine other college-bound students from the Watts community, took a break from their college preparations recently to be honored with a 2015 Bill Coggins Community Leadership Award for their exceptional leadership skills.

Hudson earned an award for his work helping other students in his community excel, tutoring at a local elementary school and serving as a senior ambassador. He added: “Giving back to my community has taught me patience and humility, and it has made me a better person. Twenty years from now, I plan on continuing my work helping others.”

Hosted at the Watts Counseling and Learning Center, the 2015 Bill Coggins Community Leadership Awards reception celebrated local students who are already proving to be strong advocates for their neighborhoods’ well-being, developing local efforts to end hunger, spearheading campaigns to protect the health of their communities, and serving as tutors and peer counselors.

The scholarship awards range from $1,000 - $2,000 each and are funded by Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit program through the Watts Counseling and Learning Center. By rewarding students for their steadfast commitment to leadership, these awards help cultivate lasting civic leadership and engagement, which create stronger communities.

In addition to serving their neighborhoods, these remarkable young men and women have also remained committed to their studies, earning admission to Yale University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley, Loyola Marymount University and California State University of Long Beach, among others.

Daniel Moreno, who received an award for campaigning and leading the efforts of an alley reclamation project in his neighborhood, is already mapping out his future plans to continue his work positively impacting his community. Moreno will attend U.C. Berkeley this fall, where he will study law. “After I graduate, I plan on returning here as a lawyer or a politician to make positive changes in my neighborhood,” he said. 

The awards reception was attended by the students and members of their family, and also featured a presentation by Bill Coggins, M.S.W., founding director of the Watts Counseling and Learning Center.

The 2015 Bill Coggins Community Leadership Award recipients are:

  • Ruperto de Haro, South East High School, will attend UCLA.
  • Camren Hudson, King Drew Medical Magnet High School, will attend Morehouse College.
  • Ashley Jackson, King Drew Medical Magnet High School, will attend Los Angeles Harbor College.
  • Kris Ordonez Maldonado, South East High School, will attend University of California, Berkeley.
  • Daniel Moreno, Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School, will attend University of California, Berkeley.
  • Elaine Reyes, Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School, will attend California State University, Los Angeles.
  • Jose Rodriguez, Animo Pat Brown Charter High School, will attend Yale University.
  • Karina Rosales, King Drew Medical Magnet High School, will attend University of California, Berkeley.
  • Khalil Sullivan, King Drew Medical Magnet High School, will attend Loyola Marymount University.
  • Evan Thurman, Middle College High School, will attend California State University, Long Beach.

Established in 1996, the Bill Coggins Community Leadership Awards are given each year to a select number of students for their dedication to community leadership. Since the inception of these scholarship awards, the Center has awarded nearly $250,000 to help promote thriving communities.

The Watts Counseling and Learning Center was opened in 1967 by founding director Bill Coggins to bring much needed counseling and educational programs to the Watts community. The Center has continually expanded and diversified its programs to cover a wide range of culturally relevant mental health, educational and youth outreach services to the greater Watts community. The Center is funded by Kaiser Permanente Southern California as a Community Benefit program and families need not be Kaiser Permanente members to utilize the Center’s services.

For more information about the Bill Coggins Community Leadership Award, visit community.kp.org or contact Maria T. Aguirre at (323) 564-7911 or via email.

See how other students are working to make their communities healthier, happier places to live:

http://community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/getting_healthy_and_keeping_fit
http://community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/making-futures-in-health-care-a-reality
http://community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/cool-kid-activates-whittier

[Photo] Pictured from left: Daniel Moreno, Ashley Jackson, Khalil Sullivan, Joanne Robinson, executive director, Watts Counseling and Learning Center, Evan Thurman, Kris Ordonez Maldonado, Bill Coggins, Elaine Reyes, Ruperto De Haro, Jose Rodriguez, Camren Hudson. Not pictured: Karina Rosales.