Precious Listana ’15 Awarded Prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory is proud to announce the recent naming of Precious Listana ’15 as a Gates Millennium Scholar. The GMS Class of 2015 applicant pool consisted of 57,000 hopeful high school seniors from across the United States. Precious is one of only 1,000 scholars awarded the prestigious honor, which distinguishes her as a Leader for America’s Future™. As the most competitive candidate groups in the program’s history, Precious’ acceptance is a tremendous accomplishment and historical moment for SHC and its Piro Scholar Program. Principal Gary Cannon shares, “Precious has internalized and models SHC’s mission as a service-oriented leader with a commitment to living the Gospel. She is passionate about taking her gifts and using them for the good of others. Clearly, the Gates Millennium Foundation has recognized her accomplishments and is making a wise investment in Precious and her future.” As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Precious will receive a grant to fund her college education at any accredited college or university in the United States. At the conclusion of her undergraduate studies, she will be eligible to continue to receive scholarship funds based on her chosen area of study. Perhaps just as important as the financial support is the network of fellow Gates Scholars that Precious will join, connecting her to other exceptional students. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students to reach their highest potential by reducing financial barriers for minorities, increasing representation of minority groups in certain academic disciplines and developing a diverse community of future leaders.
SHC Director of Student Support Angel-Max Guerrero shares, “Precious’s accomplishment brings her family one step closer to fulfilling the ‘American Dream.’”
Precious entered the SHC community as a graduate of De Marillac Academy and member of the Piro Scholar Program. SHC’s Piro Program provides a Lasallian and Vincentian education to students in need and aims to end the cycle of poverty through significant tuition assistance and tremendous academic and personal support. SHC’s Piro Scholars often hail from some of the most marginalized communities in San Francisco, and the Listana family is no different. The Listana family immigrated from the Philippines in the 2005 after years of persecution under Marcos-era martial law and settled in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Precious, along with her parents, two older brothers, and younger sister have all grown up in this high-crime neighborhood known for its abundance of single-room occupancy hotels, transitional housing and homeless population.
“Growing up in the Tenderloin, you see the drugs, the prostitution, all of those vices every day. Life isn’t fair, but you have to choose to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. This is the one message I want to share with other underprivileged youth: there are people out there who believe in you … you just have to believe in yourself.”
Guerrero sees Precious’ accomplishments as a reflection of an SHC education. “Her incredible success is a testament to the quality of her Lasallian Vincentian education and the efficacy of the Piro Program—the program works. We can’t wait to continue to celebrate her accomplishments as she goes on to Cal in the fall.” Throughout her four years at SHC, Precious has inspired the school community through her academic, cocurricular and personal achievements. Precious was named the SHC Class of 2015 Valedictorian, the very first Piro Scholar to achieve the honor. She is an active member of student council, the Speech & Debate Team, Block Club, the California Scholarship Federation and Cross Country Team. She served as a student-leader for the senior-level Kiva Service-Learning Project, developing vital relationships with her mentors: SHC Instructor of Social Studies Abi Basch and Biba Kavass, a social studies teacher at Southwind High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Both Abi and Biba led their students on a trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during the summer of 2014, a journey that ultimately inspired Precious to participate in the Global Youth Institute conference hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. She was later awarded a Borlaug-Ruan International Internship which will send her to India for eight weeks this summer to research agriculture and food security. Both of these achievements would not have been possible without the support Precious received from her mentors. “Ms. Basch and Ms. Kavass invested so much time guiding me through the application process for the World Food Prize, Borlaug-Ruan and Gates—including over winter break. Their help made me realize how much the adults in my life believe in me, and I made it part of my goal to not only do it for myself, but for them too.” In addition to her accomplishments at SHC, Precious serves as the San Francisco District 6 Youth Commissioner. Precious’ long list of achievements has not affected her sense of gratitude, humility or obligation to her family and supporters. “I told my mom that it was my goal to make sure our family would not be hit by the financial burden of sending me to college. They have worked hard their entire lives for me and my siblings, it just always felt right to follow their example and work hard too.”
“I would not have been able to complete the Gates Millenium Scholarship process without such a loving, supportive community from SHC."
"Ms Basch and Ms. Kavass helped me through every step of the process. All of my classes have prepared me to write application essays. All of my teachers were open to review my application, and I received such warm support from the Piro team that ultimately drove me toward this accomplishment.”

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