Saray, Trish and Cesar helped create elephant toothpaste during a recent visit to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Discovery Center, experiencing first hand what a chemical catalyst does.  Creating toothpaste was one of a number of science experiments the three sixth-graders, along with other former Marylin Avenue Elementary School alum, participated in while being entertained and educated by Nick Williams, LLNL’s Fun with Science presenter.

The students and one other Marylin Avenue School classmate are enrolled in the inaugural cohort of Pedrozzi Young Scholars – a new Pedrozzi Foundation initiative.

 “The goal of the program is to support and encourage high-achieving, socioeconomically disadvantaged students throughout middle and high school so that they are academically prepared for college upon high school graduation – whether they choose that path or another post secondary program,” says Gina Bonanno, Pedrozzi Foundation Board Member.

Marylin Avenue Principal Alberto Solorzano was the catalyst for the Pedrozzi Young Scholar Program.  As a former Livermore High School Principal, Alberto was concerned that Marylin Avenue alum were not heading directly to universities upon high school graduation.  He recognized that, just like chemical synthesis, purposefully support was needed to get the desired results.

“As a start,  we invited the eight 2016 Marylin Avenue Principal Honor Roll students to be recognized at our annual scholarship award ceremony,” shares Gina.  Discussions with Alberto and school district administrators then lead to the creation of the Pedrozzi Young Scholar program.  During the initial years, Marylin Avenue Honor Roll scholars will be invited to enroll in the program annually.

Front Row: Cesar Gutierrez, Maliyah Rivera, Saray Espinoza, Trish Pedeglorio, Aleidy Jimenez, Mariana Gutierrez | Back Row: Lourdes Magana, Dr. Monica Moya, Carolyn Siegfried, Alberto Solorzano | Not pictured: student Anthony Martinez

The students, now at three different Livermore middle schools, met Dr. Monica Moya, LLNL Biomedical Engineer and Pedrozzi Foundation Outreach Committee Member, when she congratulated them during the 2016 awards event and reconnected with her following the Fun with Science presentation.  Monica shared her story with these students: high achieving  student to first-generation college student to Ph.D. candidate to Biomedical Engineer doing cool and important research. She provided perfect words of encouragement. “She is a great roll model; her story can be their story” says Carolyn Siegfried, Pedrozzi Foundation, Executive Director. “The students look forward to learning more from Dr. Moya in the coming years.”

Through periodic events for the scholars and their parents, the Foundation plans to be a continual catalyst and support network for these high-achieving students, and looks forward to when these young scholars are recognized as Pedrozzi Scholars at the Foundation’s 2023 awards event.