Verizon Wireless Awards $30,000 in Scholarships To Phoenix High School Seniors

PHOENIX, AZ — Five Phoenix high school seniors were rewarded this week for their exceptional scholastic efforts and community commitment, each receiving a Verizon Wireless Latino Scholarship. Awards were presented in ceremonies at their schools to Lily Bermejo, Agua Fria High School in Avondale, $5,000; Patricia Gutierrez, Westwood High School in Mesa, $7,500; Nancy Hernandez, Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, $5,000; Patricia Olaya, Alhambra High School in Phoenix, $5,000; and Alma Zárate, Tempe Union High School in Tempe, $7,500.

"Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless provider, is pleased to help these young people move forward with the opportunity to continue their education and achieve their career goals," said Jerry Gallegos, regional president. "They represent the best of America's future leaders, and we are proud to contribute toward their success."

"Verizon Wireless is committed to giving back to the Latino community, whose members have been such loyal customers," stated Nick Montes, who heads Verizon Wireless' Hispanic marketing effort throughout the Western United States. "Education is important to us and to the Latino community. We are eager to help Latino young people attend the college or university of their choice."

Student Profiles

Lily Bermejo/Agua Fria High School, Avondale

Lily Bermejo wants to be a veterinarian, and is a volunteer at the Agua Fria Animal Clinic, where she assists with caring for the animals. She supports anti-smoking efforts as a member of Western Tobacco Prevention; helps the needy through her church; is a member of the Drama Club and Swing Club and the International Thespian Society, and is involved with the Mi Peru folkloric group. She is also an honor roll student with a 3.52 grade point average.

In his letter of recommendation for Lily Bermejo, Tom Broccolo (Director of Bands at Agua Fria High) wrote:

"Even though Lily is involved in many activities around the Agua Fria campus, she continues to maintain an intense work ethic."

"She has volunteered her time … to take care of sick animals. She has also offered her assistance at St. Thomas Aquainis church to help the needy in local neighborhoods by donating clothes and food."

"I couldn't think of a better or more qualified student than Lily."

Patricia Gutierrez/Westwood High, Mesa

As a member of the Air Force Junior ROTC Program, Patricia Gutierrez has achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant. She was named Cadet of the Semester, and was a member of the Junior Varsity Competition Drill Team. Through her Latino Club involvement, she has served her community through food drives and helping at shelters.

Paty works part-time and is active in her church. She teaches a Sunday School class for 3 year olds, and assisted with the children's ministry for three years.

In a letter of recommendation, Col. William Sanford, senior aerospace science instructor, wrote:

"Paty is one of our finest cadets. She continually demonstrates a high level of maturity that has enabled her to serve extremely well as a student role model ... She is definitely a team player who focuses her energies on success and makes positive contributions to any endeavor that she undertakes."

"She has faced and overcome adversity (and) has maintained . . . an optimistic outlook that is evident every day."

Nancy Hernandez/Carl Hayden High School, Phoenix

Nancy Hernandez worked 30 hours a week yet found time to be involved in many school activities at Carl Hayden High School, including peer counseling and mentoring; took a leadership role in student government and on the yearbook staff; volunteered her time for intramural programs for young people through "Every Kid Counts;" and helped with the Isaac Middle School multicultural festival.

Nancy has been accepted at the University of Arizona, where she will major in secondary education.

In his letter of recommendation for Nancy Hernandez, Jobs for Arizona Graduates Coordinator Alex Rosalez wrote:

"Nancy has always been a conscientious and responsible individual. She is an outstanding student and person. She excelled in all her assignments and has spent extra hours working after school. Nancy has spent many hours related to community service. She has led her group to over 1800 hours of community service. Nancy participated in a vital role in contributing to a local project with one of our feeder schools. The goal of the project was to help reduce violence in our community. "

"Nancy will no doubt . . . be an outstanding citizen and make major contributions to our society."

Patricia Olaya/Alhambra High School, Phoenix

Patricia Olaya was class president in her freshman, sophomore and junior years, and elected Student Body President of Alhambra High School in her senior year. She is active in sports and in numerous clubs, and holds down a part-time job as cashier and sales associate.

She has been a very active volunteer, helping the community through many and varied ways including feeding the hungry and homeless, participating in walkathons, volunteering for painting projects and as a junior leader for the City of Glendale Parks and Recreation. She has also organized drives to gather food, clothing and books.

In a letter of recommendation, Biology Teacher C. K. Imes wrote:

"Patty displays leadership skills and has the ability to initiate and lead others. . . . She has a tremendous amount of integrity and her honesty and trustworthiness surpasses many of her classmates. It is her ability to empathize with others that has made her a sincere and compassionate young woman." "As a result of seeing her dedication inside and out of the classroom, I am confident that Patty will reach her goals and will excel in any endeavor that she pursues."

Alma Zárate/Tempe Union High School, Tempe

Alma Zárate is an accomplished photographer who has earned both a second and third place award in the Tempe Sister Cities Art Show. She is vice president of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan Club, a group that helps unite students of all races through community involvement. She has contributed many hours as a volunteer for Teen Court, health fairs, the Tempe Block Party, and other community activities.

Alma plans to attend Arizona State University with a major in forensics/criminology and a minor in photography.

In his letter of recommendation, photography instructor Michael A. Garcia wrote:

"Alma is a very focused person who sets goals and follows them to completion."

"In my advanced photography class Alma has built a strong portfolio which would rival any professional."

"I have no doubt that Alma can and will succeed. . . "

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 27 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at