By Pixie Sulser
Class of 2012 Ramona High School graduate Caitlin Choy was one of the 11 young people chosen from approximately 310 applicants from around San Diego County to receive a Sunflower Scholarship organized in remembrance of high school student Chelsea King. Of the 11, she was the only one to receive the Sparkle Scholarship.
King, a Poway High senior murdered two years ago, was known as an outgoing and vivacious young
woman involved in her school and community. The Sunflower Scholarship Foundation was established in her memory to honor young people who reflect King’s desire to make the world a better place.
As part of the application process, Choy had to write an essay describing her choice of a super power. Choy chose the power of communication.
“My super power was to have the ability to talk to everyone in the world,” she said. “The gist of my essay was the importance of communication. We need to be nicer to one another and be willing to listen to others if we want to make positive changes. The essay was a huge part of the application process.”
After several readings by community readers, foundation organizers and the King family, the final choices were narrowed to 22. The essay finalists were then interviewed by a panel that included King’s parents to pare the list to 10 spots.
“Actually, this year they had 11 spots,” shared Choy. “From those 11, one student was chosen to receive the $5,000 Tyler King Changemaker Award, and one person, which was me, was selected to receive the $10,000 Sparkle Scholarship. Each of the other finalists received $2,000. But when we were at the award ceremony, they surprised all of us by doubling our scholarships, meaning I actually received $20,000!”
Each finalist also received a sweatshirt from his or her future school and a laptop loaded with software.
“All of the finalists were amazing people,” said Choy. “I couldn’t believe they selected me! I do a lot of stuff, but nothing like what some of the other students have done. But the King family said I reminded them a lot of Chelsea, which is why they chose me for the Sparkle Scholarship.”
In addition to the Sparkle award, Choy received two $500 scholarships from the California PTA, a $500 award from Ramona Rotary and a $200 scholarship from the Association of California School Administrators. She said she will use all of it to fund her education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she plans to study biology before attending medical school.
In high school, Choy maintained over a 4.0 GPA while participating in cross country, track, soccer, Academic League, ASB, National Honor Society, and the Invisible Children’s Club.
“When I first came to Ramona my freshmen year, I just wanted to meet people, and everyone in Ramona was so welcoming,” she said. “I joined everything I could fit into my schedule, and I have loved it.”
Outside of school, Choy has participated in the Girl Scouts of America since first grade, earning the organization’s highest award, the Gold Award, this year. Recipients of the Gold Award must develop a project with enduring value.
“The Girls Scouts want the undertaking to be something that will last past the initial project and that will continue to impact others,” explained Choy, who chose to establish a running program at Ramona Community School. “I wanted to get kids active and also encourage them to think about participating in track as they get closer to high school. Starting a running program gave me the opportunity to share my love of running with others as well as promote a healthy activity for younger students.”