Our 2017 Annual Gala on November 15 was a remarkable success! We’re still feeling the glow. Thank you to everyone who joined us on November 15 as a guest, sponsor, or honoree. We raised enough funds to add 525 new students to our program in Summer 2018. The evening wouldn’t have been possible without you, so thank you.

We invite you to relish in the magic of the evening by viewing photos of the event, reading the speeches of our honorees Jessie and Deena, and watching their powerful videos.

Congratulations also goes to all of our drawing winners—your contributions raised more than $45,000 for Aim High students and teachers:

Greig and Sally Lagomarsino – Mexico vacation
Jill Carlson – Canadian Rockies trip with BACKROADS
Gordon Langs – Provence, France trip with Randonnée Tours
Chris Roeder – New York City trip thanks to the Harroch Family
Sherry Smith – Golden State Warriors tickets



Jessie Escobar
Recipient, 2017 Rising Leader Award
Aim High Graduate
Site Director, Mission District

It’s an honor to be in your company to receive the Rising Leader Award. Thank you to everyone who has helped make Aim High possible for myself and thousands of others.

Since 7th grade, I’ve spent my summers at Aim High. Since then, I’ve held every role on site–from student to site director. Those summers shaped me as an educator; I learned what it means to be a leader in education.

Leaders–whether they’re students, teachers, or site directors–do great things by expanding the circle of what’s possible for themselves and those around them.

Over five short years, I’ve learned three valuable lessons. First, teaching is brought to life by collaborating closely with others. Second, leadership requires inquiry into which values we share and how they bind us. Third–and most importantly–the mind holds untold possibilities for creativity, kindness, compassion, and wisdom, all revealed by students and teachers, summer after summer. For this reason, the future is truly promising.

That future–that promise–will be delivered by the brilliant and giving teachers of all 17 campuses. And the spontaneous joy you saw in the faces of my students in the video–the Aim High magic–wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of donors who’ve supported journeys like ours for over 30 years.

Together, we expand the circle of what’s possible for our students and ourselves when we prepare, nurture, and inspire. I humbly accept this award on behalf of the countless leaders who’ve been driven to serve their communities through Aim High.

Together…We Can, We Will, It’s Possible. We are Aim High. Thank you.



Deena Abdelwahhab
Recipient, 2017 Rising Youth Leader Award
Aim High Graduate
Teaching Intern



Good evening Ladies and Gentleman. My name is Deena Abdelwahhab, and I am the proud recipient of the “Rising Youth Leader” award.

I am an Aim High graduate, teaching intern and aspiring activist. Over seven summers at Aim High, I found a welcoming community that transformed my life and gave me a second home. Above all, I gained so much confidence. I learned to see the world in a different way. I found myself.

When I graduated from Aim High, I took that confidence with me. I knew that the empowering environment I experienced as an Aim High student and cultivated as a teaching intern was something I could—and should—create elsewhere. So I did. When I entered Balboa High School as a freshman, I got involved with issues I cared about: I joined the Arab Resources Organizing Center and became a conflict mediator for Peer Resources. Before I graduated from high school this past spring, I was honored as a Rising Peacemaker. I am now a freshman at SF State. And that Aim High confidence? I brought it with me to college.

Had it not been for Aim High, I never would have had the courage to step out of my comfort zone and stand up for what’s right. I never would have even known that was within my reach. Now, standing up for what’s right—and inspiring others to do the same—is an essential part of who I am.

Each day, I do what I can to help the world become a safer place for all people, no matter their national origin, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.  

Inside and outside the Aim High classroom,  it is important for me to serve others and to give them the opportunity to be the change they wish to see in the world. In fact, if everyone lived by Aim High’s Core values, Community, Opportunity, Respect and High Expectations, we all would make a profound impact on the lives of others.

Every day—including today, right now!—we all have the opportunity to make the world a better place. By staying positive and motivated and pursuing our vision of what we want the world to be, we can all make a difference. As we change ourselves for the better, we inspire others to do the same, and we strive to create a society where all people are appreciated, valued, and embraced.

As I accept this award, I would like to acknowledge those who are working to make a difference in their neighborhood, community, nation, and across the world. By being here tonight, you are making a difference in the lives of thousands.

Thank You!


Last but not least, please enjoy our newest video showing how Aim High begins cultivating college-bound mindsets in middle school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *