2018 Buck Fellows

selected from high schools throughout Northern California, the Class of 2018 Fellows represents a diverse spectrum of passions and background. Each representing the best and brightest of the upcoming generation of leaders.


Christian Ramos-Ambriz

Cristo Rey high school (Sacramento, CA)

Christian is a straight-A student at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento who was highly recommended by his school’s principal. He serves in student government as the representative of his class; loves theater and is involved in his school’s Drama Club; works part-time; and collaborated with a group of his fellow sophomores to independently prepare for the AP Environmental Science exam, even though the course was not offered at his high school. In person, he impressed the Selection Committee with his curiosity, enthusiasm, and charisma. He comes from a single-parent family with roots in Mexico. Christian dreams of attending UC Berkeley, becoming a pediatrician, and helping break the cycle of poverty.

Christina Mazzi

Concord High School (Contra Costa County)

Christina was born in Uganda, and sent to America at the age of 9 to live with her grandmother, a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. She speaks perfect English, her native language of Luganda, some Swahili from time spent living in Kenya, and is learning Spanish; she is passionate about the study of language and culture. She feels a deep sense of responsibility to excel academically and seize all of the opportunities available to her. She is highly articulate, and sparkles with optimism and energy. We were impressed by her deeply held convictions, resilience, and drive. Christina has straight A’s and is aiming for a top tier school. She hopes to use BSA funding to support a teen peace corps experience volunteering in Guatemala.



Fatima Lizarde

Alhambra High School (Martinez, CA)

Motivated by her experience growing up in an immigrant family, Fatima has a palpable passion for creating “safe haven” communities for children around the world. Over the past year, she teamed up with her medical biology teacher to charter her school’s first UNICEF Club, where she regularly holds presentations about the program’s global initiatives. Under her guidance, the club has run two successful fundraisers and grown to over 30 members. But she cares about more than just numbers; in her own words, she plans to “make sure to find others who will continue this club” once she graduates.

Fatima is interested in the law, and she yearns for mentors or role models who could challenge this interest, or whom she could ask for advice. Realizing this, she found a Stanford Institute for Legal Studies program last summer and put together an application that earned her a full scholarship to attend the program.

Hawi Abraham

Middle College High School (Richmond, CA)

Hawi is a hardworking young woman who is passionate about her studies and about life.  The only daughter of parents from Ethiopia, she learned from her grandparents (who never attended college) that education is a privilege.  As a participant in the prestigious Ivy League Connection Scholarship Program, she studied at Vanderbilt University.  

Inspired by her mother’s health challenges, Hawi desires to pursue a joint MD/PhD degree and attend Carnegie Mellon University.  As a Black woman wanting to enter a STEM field, she is constantly seeking mentors and role models to assist her with achieving her goals.  Hawi describes herself as having clarity about what she wants to do with her life, but lacking in direction on how to get there.  As a Student Representative on the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, she has advocated for a parcel tax (which will appear on the November 2018 ballot) to raise money to increase teacher retention. Hawi’s hobbies include playing the steel pan and the cello.   


Marcos del toro

Winters High School (Winters, CA)

Marcos is an intelligent and humble young man who is determined to achieve his goals and aspirations. Growing up in a single parent household, he has overcome many adversities and continues to exceed expectations placed on him. He is enrolled at Winters High School and excels in band and robotics. He is passionate about giving back to his community and currently mentors middle school students on the robotics team. Marcos' goals are to be the first in his family to attend college, become an engineer, make his family proud, and continue to give back to his community.

Shreejal Luitel

Middle College High School (San Pablo, CA)

At age 7, Shreejal immigrated to the United States with his family from Nepal.  Speaking no English, Shreejal struggled in elementary school, but his life changed when one of his middle school teachers introduced him to the field of computer science.  Computer science proved to be an ideal outlet for Shreejal’s desire to learn and create, and helped him build not only programming skills, but transferable skills in in English language, mathematics, and problem-solving. Shreejal has also endeavored to create opportunities for other young people from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds to learn about computer science and technology in the hope that they, too, will gain inspiration and transferable skills from their exposure to these important fields.