The Buck Fellows




2019 Buck Fellows

selected from high schools throughout Northern California, the Class of 2019 Fellows represents a diverse spectrum of passions and background. Each representing the best and brightest of the upcoming generation of leaders.


Anita Chinwuba

Pinole Valley High School (Pinole, CA)

At the age of 6 years old, Anita and her family moved from Nigeria to the United States to seek a better life. Anita is one of three children and currently attends Pinole Valley High School in Contra Costa County. Anita is incredibly passionate about addressing the disproportionate injustice faced by communities of color in the judicial system.

Anita believes that “education is the most powerful tool that anyone can possess.” Her extra-curricular activities include the African American Student Union and the National Honor Society. She dreams of attending college after high school and becoming a lawyer to change public policy. Anita believes that “education is the most powerful tool that anyone can possess.”

In person, she impressed the selection committee with her deep commitment to ending police brutality and passion for social justice.

Gabriel Conejo

Mesa Verde High (Citrus heights, ca)

Gabriel is a young man who is beyond his years. A student at Mesa Verde High School in Citrus Heights, he demonstrates an incredible work ethic both in and out of the classroom. Gabriel is captain of various sports teams, the VP of the Key Club, and the VP of his school’s inaugural Brown Issues club. It’s easy to see why he makes a natural leader. He exudes maturity, humility, and the drive to better himself - so that he can better serve those around him.

His ambition to become a detective stems from a desire to serve his local community, and to serve as a role model for future generations. Gabriel’s recommenders describe his character as exemplary, standing out amongst the many students they’ve worked with over their entire careers.

When the selection committee asked Gabriel whether he had any questions for us, he asked us how he could best live up to the ideals that the BSA Fellows Program embodies. When we told him that he was already doing so, he then asked us how he could go above and beyond that. We are thrilled to support Gabriel on his journey!



Kieu Anh Nguyen Le

rosemont High School (sacramento, CA)

With a passion for saving the planet and promoting the literary arts, Kieu Anh complements her vision of sustainability with her appreciation of education. Born in Vietnam, she currently attends Rosemont High School where she already takes and excels in AP Biology and AP World History as a sophomore. Outside of the classroom, Kieu Anh currently serves as secretary for her school's environmental club. Under her leadership, she has helped recruit and retain members to encourage and manage recycling efforts at Rosemont. It has been through her involvement with this club that she has decided to focus her career path towards environmental engineering.

When the Selection Committee asked Kieu Anh how she would spend her stipend as a Buck Fellow, she shared in detail how she would use a portion to fund fully a literary magazine to distribute to her school. She admitted recognizing the difficulty in having students pay for the magazine, but she believed in the importance of sharing an appreciation of the literary arts to the student body. BSA will be looking forward to hear how Kieu Anh continues to leave her imprint on the world!

Maryam Qazikhani

rio americano high school (carmichael, CA)

Maryam is a recent refugee from Afghanistan and started her studies in the US during the second half of her freshman year at Rio Americano High School. She has been amazingly successful after such a brief time to adjust to her new life in California. As an English language learner, her teachers shared that amidst the turbulent state of her home country, Maryam started an English Language, Math, and Science tutoring course for students who didn't have means to pay for it. Maryam is active in the student organization, Stolen Childhood, which supports refugees.

Maryam has a huge heart and is eager to use her voice to make a difference in the world. She hopes to become a doctor. She told us in the interview that when she was growing up, she experienced how hard it was for women to be taken seriously; she feels that as a doctor, she would be, and she would also be able to make a critical difference in the lives of people in developing countries. Her passionate commitment to making a difference shone through all of her interview. We are thrilled to Support Maryam on her Journey.



RAFAEL Castellanos

Lathrop high school (Lathrop, CA)

Rafael is a first-generation American, and as the eldest of three siblings, he is well on his way to becoming the first member of his extended family to earn a college degree. But his aspirations do not end there; Rafael plans to proceed to medical school to train as a physician. In so doing, Rafael intends to pay back the sacrifices his parents have made to put him in a position to pursue these lofty goals, blaze a trail for his younger siblings to follow, and build a career oriented around helping others. He is a student-leader in his high school’s band program, club president of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council, and a committed volunteer in the Give Every Child a Chance Program, through which he mentors younger students seeking to follow in his esteemed footsteps.

Rafael’s greatest mentor has been his father, a Mexican-born agricultural laborer who has persistently inculcated him with an appreciation for the value of education. His father’s own story of growing up in poverty and pursuing an opportunity in the United States through sheer force of will inspires him to set his own aspirations at the highest level. But Rafael’s father did not attend college and Rafael needs a mentor who can help him orient his skill and determination more specifically toward achieving his highest educational ambitions. We are excited to support Rafael on his Journey.

olga Selena Tellez

American canyon high school (american canyon, CA)

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Selena feels that “the only way to evolve is to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.” To this end, she enrolled in English Honors classes both semesters of her freshman year. Although her ultimate career goal is undecided, she knows she wants to help inspire adults and youth to eliminate any barriers that hold them back from excellence. Selena’s teachers describe her as “dynamic, perseverant and compassionate.”

She is extremely passionate about the visual and performing arts and believes that supporting visual and performing arts education is fundamental for growth in all aspects. Selena has been involved as an actress as well as behind the scenes with costumes and makeup for her high school’s performing arts productions. Selena continues to volunteer with arts productions at her former middle school.

The Selection Committee was impressed with Selena’s passion and commitment to the arts as a form of self-expression.