Onward Scholars at SMA » Scholar Spotlight Archives

Scholar Spotlight Archives

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Jewel Cox!


Last week’s SMA Belle of the Week, Jewel Cox, is this week’s Scholar in the spotlight! 


Jewel is a member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  Graduating valedictorian of her 8th grade class at Westside Global Awareness Magnet and earning the highest composite score on the High School Placement Test (HSPT) of this year’s freshman class, the expectations for Jewel as a new Belle were high. She has not disappointed.


Jewel is in the Health Careers Pathway and is maintaining As in all of her courses, including her 3 honors courses in Biology, English, and Geometry. She is a member of the SMA Cheer Team and is the president of the Culture Club, which she founded to “educate ourselves about our differences so that we may grow closer together”.


Jewel’s leadership was recognized this summer during the California Youth Think Tank (CYTT) at USC for “her invaluable contributions to the program and commitment to service in her community”. Most recently, Jewel was instrumental in the class of 2022 earning their gold ties by helping mobilize her classmates and taking the lead on writing their class song. Her efforts earned her the distinction of Belle of the Week. 


Jewel is also active in her Church, regularly performing as a liturgical dancer and participating in community service projects. She is someone who brings out the best in people through her encouragement and example. 


Continued success to you, Jewel!  You have a very bright future ahead. We are so proud of the young woman you are in and out of the classroom!   

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Victoria Edwards!


Last week’s birthday girl, Victoria Edwards, is this month’s Scholar in the spotlight! 


Victoria is a member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  She is a graduate of Aspire Centennial College Preparatory Academy.


Victoria is in the Media Arts Pathway at SMA but also qualified for, and is excelling in, Honors Biology. She has earned a weighted GPA of 4.0.  One of her teachers recently commended Victoria for her honors-level work and for the manner in which she raises the bar for classroom discussions.  A skilled artist, Victoria’s talents will be on display on one of this year’s SMA Christmas cards that are mailed to stakeholders and friends of our school community.  Here is her design:




Outside of the classroom, Victoria is generous with her talents on the court and at her church.  She is a member of the SMA basketball teams; her talents in the backcourt have been contributing to both the JV and varsity teams during the preseason.  Victoria is also active in her parish, St. Odilia, where she regularly volunteers her time.


Continued success to you, Victoria!  We are so proud of you! 

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Julissa Cruz!


Julissa Cruz is this month’s Scholar in the spotlight! 


Julissa is a member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  She is a graduate of St. John Chrysostom (SJC), our beloved partner school next door.  While an eighth grader at SJC, Julissa took Geometry at SMA.  Her performance in that class along with her excellent HSPT scores earned her a place in the Honors Algebra II class as a freshman.


Julissa is in the Health Careers Pathway at SMA. She has earned a weighted GPA of 4.3 to date.  She receives high praise from her teachers for “always being ready to start class with a positive attitude”; giving responses in class that “move the conversation forward in a way that is intelligent, relevant, and fruitful”; “asking questions, answering questions, and volunteering to solve problems on the board and explain her work to the class”; and being among the top students in her sophomore-level religion class.


A talented actress, Julissa will be auditioning for SMA’s Spring production of Sister Act.  She is also in the process of getting ready to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. She recently returned from her Confirmation retreat, grateful for the opportunity to relate and connect with her fellow candidates.  She is excited about “officially becoming a Catholic” and the extent to which the process has helped her relationship with God.  We are so proud of her commitment to her faith and of her living a life that reflects that commitment! 


Congratulations and continued success to you, Julissa! 

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Imyni Seals!


Imyni is this month’s Scholar in the spotlight! She is a graduate of Resolute Academy and member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  

Imyni is in the Health Careers Pathway at SMA and earned a weighted GPA of 3.5 last semester.  She receives high praise from her teachers for being:

  • a curious student who always wants to know more, asks great questions in class, and is enthusiastic about all of the experiments we do;
  • very quick to get topics in Math and understanding the connections very well;
  • attentive and a willing participant in class;
  • a student who moves the conversation forward in interesting and relevant ways through her questions and shares;
  • a joy to have in class, always eager to contribute positively and give new things a try; and
  • someone whose intellectual abilities match her curiosity

A talented athlete, Imyni has been making valuable contributions to the JV basketball team.  What she enjoys most about being part of the Belle basketball program are “getting to create a bond on and off the court” and “experiencing new things together”.  Imyni attributes her academic success to “being open to learning new things, paying attention, breaking down material into small chunks, and asking for help if I need it”.  She also says she consistently reads the comments that teachers provide on her assignments and incorporates the feedback into future assignments.

We are so proud of the big strides you made during the 1st semester- the hard work and grit you demonstrated paid off, Imyni.  Keep up the great work! Congratulations and continued success to you! 

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Isabella Bravo!


February's birthday girl is this month’s Scholar in the spotlight! Isabella is a member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  She is a graduate of St. Lawrence of Brindisi. 


Isabella is in the Engineering Pathway at SMA and has consistently maintained a 4.5 GPA this year.  Coming off of National Engineers Week and preparing for this week’s FIRST Robotics competition at the Orange County Fairgrounds, the Engineering Career Path Director (Ms. Bubis) and Robotics Coach (Mr. Condrat) have this to say about Isabella:


Isabella is doing well in both Introduction to Engineering Design and Algebra 2 Honors. She is an active participant in the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program. In addition, Isabella will represent SMA as one of the three members of our team for the Chevron Design Challenge. 

Isabella consistently demonstrates a high level of interest and dedication to the robotics team and has become one of the key members of the team in her first season and will also co-pilot the robot at the regional event this week.


Isabella states. “It is really fun to be able to experience mechanical engineering early on in my academic career.  The opportunity to go out and compete also really helps develop my leadership skills. I love the fact we really get along; when we see each other on campus we always say hello to one another.”


Isabella is active in her community through her involvement in the Girl Scouts. She is currently working toward her Gold Award, the highest award earned by a Girl Scout. 


We are so proud of you, Isabella!  Keep up the great work! Congratulations and continued success to you! 

Scholar Spotlight: Meet Cori Chapman!


Cori is this month’s Scholar in the spotlight! She is a member of Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA.  She is a graduate of Transfiguration School. 


Cori is in the Arts Pathway at SMA.  She recently showed her versatility as a performer, successfully playing a mobster AND a nun during SMA’s recent spring musical, Sister Act.  Cori can also regularly be seen (and heard) as a member of SMA’s liturgical choir.  We are so proud of the strides she has made in her time management and her grades-especially in Algebra where she recently received a 97% on her last exam!


Cori has also been praised by her teachers:  


Cori is a great contributor to our biology class. She always has something thoughtful to say and asks great questions. She is also a very talented artist, which she uses to make her notes and assignments stand out. She has also greatly improved her performance in biology in semester 2 by committing to strong study skills.


Cori has some done some great work this year. Right now, I am extremely proud of the work that she has done with her social justice project and I can't wait to see what she presents on May 2.


Recently on our field trip to The Broad, Cori wrote some fantastic poetry inspired by the artworks we were discussing and really put herself out there by being the first to volunteer to read them in front of the entire group!


She is always ready to be a leader in prayer and in group sessions.  She extends her help to anyone who asks for it but does not impose.  She has a kind heart and cheerful spirit.


She is the first to volunteer to do problems on the board.  She is very inquisitive and is able to make some good connections to things we have already learned with new topics. 


Cori states, “St Mary’s has helped me grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is one of the best things that I have ever experienced”.


Cori is also active in her parish and community through her involvement in the Daughters of the Knights of Peter Claver at Transfiguration Church.


We are so proud of you, Cori!  Keep up the great work! Congratulations and continued success to you! 


Scholar Spotlight: Meet Samantha Gonzalez and Vivian Martinez!


Samantha Gonzalez and Vivian Martinez are this month’s Scholars in the Spotlight! They are graduates of St. John Chrysostom and St. Agnes, respectively.  Both have a 4.0 GPA, including an A in Honors Algebra II!  Both are exceptional and caring leaders.  Both were recently accepted to the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Academy for their academic excellence, character, and demonstrated leadership. Through the Caddie Academy, students have the chance to earn money, meet role models, and learn invaluable life lessons on the golf course.  After successfully completing three summers, they become eligible for the Evans Scholarship, a full tuition and housing college scholarship (https://wgacaddieacademy.org/info/).


Samantha and Vivian have made their mark in the classroom at SMA, as evidenced by the following feedback from their teachers:


Sam and Vivian are top students in my Spanish class. They both try their best in helping other students. They are also great leaders in different activities in class.

Samantha is a leader amongst her peers. She always produces exemplary work, but is also willing to help out those who are struggling to ensure they are understanding the concepts.


Vivian has a very positive spirit and her leadership qualities are extraordinary.  She enjoys learning and has the appropriate questions when it comes to any topic.  


Vivian is very enthusiastic and loves to learn. She isn’t afraid to ask questions and her positive energy inspires her classmates. She loves to help others and her smile can brighten anyone’s day. 


Vivian has overcome some major challenges this year and I am proud of her progress. In our Social Justice unit earlier in the semester, Vivian chose to study dogfighting. She completed a service project where she hosted a cat and dog necessities drive at the school, the proceeds of which were donated to a local animal shelter. Most recently, she wrote an excellent poem about her experiences as an only child and scored very high (A) on her recital.  Samantha joined up with a team to write and perform a relevant and touching slam poem for which her group scored very high. This unit was great for Samantha as it allowed her to showcase her strong writing skills. Previously, Samantha studied domestic violence as part of her Social Justice Project. For her related service project, she worked with a group to put on an Easter Egg Hunt for children at The Alexandria House. Obviously, I am extremely proud of their performance and their service. 


Vivian is a member of SMA’s volleyball and basketball teams, Campus Ministry, and was recently selected as Athletics Commissioner for SMA’s Student Leadership Council.  Samantha recently helped spearhead a series of activities in support of Alexandria House, a transitional home for homeless women and children founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She is looking forward to joining SmartBots, SMA's robotics team.


We are so proud of you, Samantha and Vivian!  Keep up the great work! Congratulations and continued success to you!