Message from the Superintendent
June 14, 2022
The Class of 2022, Part 2
Dear PUSD Community,
Graduates in the Class of 2022 have accomplished amazing things.
As promised, we’re sending you part two of our special graduate edition with part two featuring Pasadena High School, Blair High School, and Rose City High School.
If you missed part one or you’d like to reread their remarkable stories, you can find the link here.
CAPS OFF TO THE CLASS OF 2022
PASADENA HIGH SCHOOL
Brianna Gaughn, Valedictorian
Multitalented is an understatement when it comes to Pasadena High School (PHS) Valedictorian Brianna Gaughn. An outstanding student, Brianna is also a figure skater, violinist, and dedicated volunteer who also happens to speak Armenian and Russian. She plans to attend UCLA this fall to study chemical engineering.
Brianna is a member of the National Honor Society, a California Scholarship Federation seal-bearer with the highest honors, a College Board AP Scholar with distinction, and a potential AP National Scholar. Brianna has maintained a GPA of over 4.6 and was in the APP Academy at PHS up until senior year. She served as Vice President and then President of the PHS Astronomy Club.
Over the course of two summers, Brianna interned at Caltech’s astronomy and physics labs as a part of the Summer Research Connection program. A dedicated STEM student, she has also taken several courses at Pasadena City College including: precalculus, linear algebra, and multivariable calculus (not to mention four semesters of Russian).
A violinist since the age of three, Brianna has performed in the string orchestra, symphony and philharmonic ensembles of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra. She also began figure skating at 15 years old. When life begins to spin out of control, Brianna relies on her support system.
“PHS taught me that community is the most important thing to get through difficult times. Even when it felt like things would never get better, my classmates and our school spirit have shown me – that's not the case,” she said.
Brianna also worked to promote STEM education at school through the construction of an observatory on campus. After school, she volunteered at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, accumulating over 200 hours of community service.
At UCLA Brianna hopes to work in a research lab and compete for the university’s figure skating team. She was accepted to UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Diego, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Michigan for chemical engineering. She is not certain of her career plans but is interested in exploring the medical field. Congratulations Brianna!
Tosten Pearson, Valedictorian
Pasadena High School graduate Tosten Pearson is heading to Brown University this fall after becoming a PHS Class of 2022 Valedictorian. A writer for his school newspaper since freshman year, his academic success story will go down in the pages of Bulldog history. For the last year, he has also led the school’s “Pasadena Chronicle'' as Editor-in-Chief.
As a student interested in pursuing an education and career in STEM, he has also served as co-founder and vice president of the PHS Science Olympiad Club/Team for all four years.
“I cannot begin to express the full extent of my gratitude towards the Bulldog community, including its teachers, counselors, administrators, staff, and students,” Tosten said.
Tosten was named a National Merit Scholarship winner and was awarded the UC Berkeley Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship. He is a recipient of the Pasadena High School Class of 1967 Scholarship and the Pasadena Educational Foundation 2022 Pasadena High School Wark Scholarship.
Outside of the classroom. Tosten has volunteered at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens for over two-and-half-years, accruing over 170 hours of community service. During his summers, he has interned through the California Institute of Technology’s Summer Research Connection program and has taken multiple classes at Pasadena City College.
In addition to Brown, Tosten was accepted at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Occidental College, Middlebury College, Amherst College, Georgetown University, Lewis and Clark College, and Brown University.
He will have a concentration in Chemistry. However, he is also interested in exploring various disciplines of engineering through Brown’s Open Curriculum and plans to continue learning Mandarin Chinese. Congratulations Tosten!
Cristian Garcia, Salutatorian
Cristian Garcia will soon be a biology major at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) after becoming the Pasadena High School (PHS) Salutatorian. Eventually, the exceptional student hopes to pursue an equally exceptional career in the medical field.
As part of the Sports Medicine Program at PHS, Cristian became one of the sideline athletic responders at PHS athletic events. It peaked his interest in becoming a nurse, doctor or physical therapist but he says “only time will tell.”
“As long as the profession works on helping those in need medically, I will be very happy with it,” Cristian noted.
With a cumulative GPA of 4.57, Cristian has a stellar academic record and received awards from the California Scholarship Federation and the National Hispanic Honor Society. Cristian is also an AP Scholar, on the Principal’s Honor Roll with Distinction, a Questbridge College Prep Scholar, and a National Education Equity Lab College-In-High School Scholar.
Outside of the classroom, Cristian didn’t stop moving forward, joining the PHS Cross Country team and running the 800m and 1600m for PHS Track. A fluent Spanish speaker, Cristian became treasurer for the Spanish Club and National Hispanic Honor Society. He helped organize successful fundraisers and celebrate Hispanic culture as much as possible. He was also part of the PHS Puente Club and the Jesus Club.
Cristian worked part-time in the restaurant industry but also volunteered with the Pasadena Educational Foundation, handing out free meals during the peak of COVID.
He has taken five dual-enrollment courses with Pasadena City College including: Kinesiology, Health Ed, African American History, English and Composition, and Speech. He’s also taken a concurrent course through a partnership between Yale University and the University of Connecticut called “Psychology and the Good Life.”
Cristian appreciates his own “good life” and says he’s grateful for his mom who works so hard so he can succeed and his twin brother Erick who is always by his side.
“Honestly, not only did PHS provide amazing academic opportunities, but being at PHS helped me grow as a person. I’ve met great people at PHS who all gave me great advice that I will take with me throughout my life.”
Cristian only applied to nearby colleges to be “close to family.” His other college acceptances are: UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State University Northridge, Cal State Poly San Luis Obispo, and San Diego State. Congratulations Cristian!
BLAIR HIGH SCHOOL
Jonathan Ong, Valedictorian
Blair High School Valedictorian, Jonathan Ong, is heading to the College of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) and is a candidate for the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD).
Jonathan has always excelled in mathematics, taking AP Calculus in ninth grade and completing several courses at Pasadena City College (PCC) where he began concurrent enrollment classes in the summer before ninth grade. Last summer, Jonathan participated in California Institute of Technology’s Summer Research Connection by working in a lab modeling bacteria metabolism.
Outside the lab and/or classroom, Jonathan dove into several extracurricular activities. A part of the Blair water polo community since sixth grade, he began practicing with the team before he could compete and was also the manager of the Girls’ Water Polo Team at Blair Middle School. He was the Blair High School Boys’ Team Captain for the last three years and even though a shoulder injury derailed his final season, he did not allow the injury to drag him down. He enjoys playing flute and was a member of the Blair Jazz Band. He was also a member of the Associated Student Body (ASB) throughout high school and rose through the ranks from ASB Freshman Class Secretary to President as a senior.
Jonathan received his Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish but also speaks Chinese. A member of the National Honor Society, he is also the recipient of several awards including the IB Learner Profile Award, the Knowledgeable Viking Award, and the IB Outstanding Student Award. He received the PTSA Scholarship ($500), ASB’s Jimmy Cetina Award ($50) and the Joyce Davis Memorial Scholarship ($2500).
His teachers and peers have commended Jonathan for his energy, positive attitude and time management skills, never missing an IB deadline. Jonathan received a merit scholarship to study Computer Science at USC and he hopes to eventually become an engineer in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Congratulations Jonathan!
Gabrielle Muña, Salutatorian
Blair High School Salutatorian Gabrielle Muña is heading to Tulane University with several outstanding achievements under her belt through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at Blair. She is one of three PUSD seniors who have been selected to receive a four-year full-tuition leadership scholarship from the Posse Los Angeles Foundation. She is among 90 students in the Los Angeles area to receive the prestigious Posse Leadership Scholarship this year from a pool of 2,200 nominees.
Originally from Guam, Gabrielle came to California and completed the tenth grade remotely through the Academy of Our Lady of Guam and then enrolled at Blair in eleventh grade. In a very short time, Gabrielle has earned four IB certificates, completed two dual enrollment classes through Pasadena City College, maintained a 4.36 grade point average and is now ranked second in a class of 125 students.
Outside the classroom, she is dedicated to her new community. She completed over 200 hours of community service with Day One, a local nonprofit organization providing high quality and culturally-sensitive public health education, intervention, and policy development.
"From the island of Guam to the city of Pasadena, life has taught me to adapt to, learn from, and love every phase of life as it is presented to me,” she says. “I take these values with me as I pursue higher education in psychology and philosophy in the hopes of giving back to the communities that have molded me.”
At Tulane, she plans to major in Psychology. Her goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology and become a counseling therapist. Congratulations Gabrielle!
ROSE CITY HIGH SCHOOL
Rose City High School Senior Kyle Hsu plans to study engineering at Pasadena City College (PCC) next fall. He enjoys swimming, water polo, and golf which he started playing at the tender age of two. He has already taken college-level courses in Electronics and Speech at PCC through the dual-enrollment program, a joint partnership between the college and Pasadena Unified. Students are enrolled in college courses during the day in their own high school.
“Rose City allowed me a chance to cool down, rethink my process, and helped me build strong work habits,” Kyle said. “They are making sure my future is secure and giving me the proper resources to succeed.”
Kyle has been a 2022 Student of the Month and a Student Site Council Representative. While at Marshall in 2019, he was a member of the Junior Varsity Swim Team. He was also Speech Team Captain, placing third in a competition through the Tzu Chi Foundation. Kyle is a Harry Potter fan but you’d have to ask him which house he favors. One of his all-time favorite movies is “Grease” and you can find 80s music on his playlists. Kyle makes us #PUSDproud “to the max.”
Rose City High School Senior Koreel Morris is hoping to devote her life to the care of others. After graduation, she plans to attend Pasadena City College to study nursing and hopes to become a midwife. Koreel should be proud of her many achievements. She is the recipient of the Pasadena Alliance of African American School Educators (PAAASE) Scholarship Award as well as a Rose City Student of the Month. Koreel says she’s glad she attended Rose City because of the kind teachers and because it allowed her to explore so many opportunities.
“Rose City High School has really motivated me by pushing me to do better,” Koreel says. “The PCC dual enrollment class helped me get prepared for college and my teacher showed me what classes I need to take for my future job as a midwife. I am really going to miss all the teachers and fun I had at this school.”
Koreel likes to sing and listen to pop music - her favorite artist is Justin Bieber. Congratulations, Koreel!
Rose City High School Senior Edward Rangel is a budding photographer and filmmaker whose future is looking picture perfect right now. Edward will attend Pasadena City College (PCC) after graduation and would like to study film editing. As a student in the PCC Dual Enrollment program, he had the opportunity to take college-level Photography and Speech courses through a joint partnership between the college and Pasadena Unified. Students are enrolled in college courses during the day in their own high school. Edward says Rose City has provided many opportunities that will help him in the future.
“I am grateful for Rose City because it has impacted me in so many ways. They have helped me with becoming a better student and getting better grades,” Edward said. “I've chosen my career path to be a part of film making and editing. Rose City has helped me look into which courses to take and they helped me with scholarships that I will use for college.”
He has gained valuable experience during an internship at Guide Dogs of America. He is the recipient of impressive awards including the Association of Pasadena School Administrators (APSA) Scholarship and the Angela Parris Scholarship. The annual award goes to a graduating Rose City senior who has overcome significant obstacles to succeed academically, and who is planning to pursue a college education. It is named in honor of Angela Parris for her longtime and devoted work at the Pasadena Educational Foundation. Congratulations, Edward!
We are incredibly proud of all of our graduates. They all have their own unique talents and abilities. We hope their stories will make you smile and will serve as a source of inspiration. Caps off to our 2022 grads!