The San Jose Sharks, as part of the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Team (BAASST) program, chose student-athlete Cindy Bautista of Downtown College Prep as the Sharks' 2010 BAASST scholarship recipient.
Selecting this year's Sharks BAASST recipient from a faction of students boasting lofty grade point averages, impressive athletic ability and strong community involvement is an intimidating, yet inspiring process.
This year, the Sharks received 30 applications from premier student-athletes across Santa Clara County, each contending for the $3,000 scholarship to help offset their daunting college expenses.
With so many admirable scholars, the task of narrowing down the applications to just one took careful consideration and deliberation.
"This program has been around for over a decade," explained Sharks Fan Development intern, Kelly Esrey. "Each year the applicants are increasingly impressive, making the selection process even more difficult for the panel assembled. We would love to be able to honor every student, as they are all worthy of this award."
The Sharks surprised Bautista with the news March 26 during her school's weekly school-wide assembly and presented her with a $3,000 college scholarship along with an authentic San Jose Sharks jersey.
"DCP is honored to have BAASST at our school this morning," said Activities and Athletic Director Anthony Macino. "The energy and enthusiasm generated at our assembly was amazing."
The entire Downtown College Prep population in attendance erupted in applause and cheers upon hearing the announcement of their fellow peers being recognized.
"I'm still in shock," she repeatedly admitted to the crowd, holding her check and Sharks jersey out for her classmates to admire.
"The look on Cindy's face was priceless when they announced her name," Macino said. "We are very proud of Cindy for all her hard work."
Macino was one of two members of the DCP administration to write glowing letters of recommendation for the scholarship application on behalf of Bautista.
Following the assembly, she received praise from her peers, teachers and coaches, many of whom congratulated her with warm hugs and tears.
Since moving to the United States from a small Mexican village, Bautista faced significant obstacles en route to an ultimately successful high school career.
In addition to being a dedicated cross-country runner, student government participant and Advanced Placement scholar, Bautista also works six days a week to help support her family. With English as her third language, she has devoted tremendous effort to not only survive, but excel in both school and extracurricular activities.
Bautista aspires to be the first in her family to graduate from college and to serve as an exemplary model for her siblings and fellow classmates.
Being named the Sharks' 2010 BAASST scholarship recipient, all signs pointed to Bautista moving one step closer toward achieving these goals.
She plans to continue her education at Mount Holyoke College this Fall.
Bautista will have the opportunity to attend a home game of each of the six Bay Area sports teams including the 49ers, Raiders, A's, Giants, Warriors and Sharks where she, along with the other five BAASST winners will be recognized for their academic and athletic achievements.
In a collective effort to support youth working towards the goal of higher education, Bay Area professional sports franchises, including the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants and San Jose Sharks, have teamed up for the 14th year of BAASST. As part of this program, six high school seniors are selected to receive a $3,000 scholarship to be applied toward their college education.
Established in 1996, the BAASST honors college-bound seniors who have achieved a minimum 3.0 grade point average, displays leadership qualities in the classroom and/or inspirational qualities on the athletic field and demonstrates the value of education, good work ethic and community outreach. Public high schools within the Bay Area's nine counties were provided with detailed information about this scholarship opportunity and were encouraged to nominate worthy students for this honor.