Accolades: Local students honored
by TP staff
May 30, 2014 | 5847 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHS grad wins scholarship to finish college

Rodrigo Tellez, a 2011 graduate of West High School, has been named a winner of the Scholarship America Dream Award, a renewable scholarship that will pay for the rest of his college education.

Tellez, who grew up in a family of migrant farm workers, attended San Joaquin Delta College and transferred to University of California, Berkeley. He expects to graduate next year with a degree in chemical engineering.

His ambition is to earn his doctorate and become a community college professor.

Top Bulldog named National Merit Scholar

Aditya Dutta Gupta, who will graduate Saturday as valedictorian of Tracy High School’s Class of 2014, has received a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship from University of Southern California.

The scholarship is worth $1,000 a year, renewable for four years.

Gupta plans to major in biomedical engineering at USC and may pursue a career in surgical medicine.

About 8,000 high school seniors will receive awards worth more than $35 million this year through the National Merit Scholarship Program, selected from 1.5 million students who took the PSAT as juniors in 2012.

West alumnus receives law degree

Dan Tavares Arriola, who graduated from West High School in 2007, was awarded his Juris Doctor degree Friday at University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

He will return to San Joaquin County to work for the district attorney’s office after taking the California Bar Exam in July.

He studied political science at University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 2011, and was student body president at his law school.

THS alumna to begin pharmacy residency

Benicia Ortiz, Tracy High School Class of 2006, graduated magna cum laude with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy on May 17.

A member of the Rho Chi honor society, she will begin a residency with Kaiser Permanente in June.

Ortiz is the daughter of Brenda and Richard Ortiz of Tracy and granddaughter of former Tracy residents Sharon and Jim White of Keaau, Hawaii.

Tracy High alumna earns high honors

Amanda Goad, Tracy High School Class of 2010, has graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in animation from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Goad, a member of the honors program for four years, also received an award for achieving the highest GPA in the School of Film and Television.

Her senior thesis film, “Sun Requited,” will debut Sept. 27 at the school’s Film Outside the Frame festival at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles.

Sophomore selected for leadership seminar

Priscilla Cifra, a sophomore at Millennium High School, was chosen to attend the EDGE Youth Leadership seminar during the Memorial Day weekend at University of California, Berkeley.

The 11-year-old seminar, formerly the Northern California Youth Leadership Seminar, connects teenagers with leaders in business, nonprofit and government and helps them build communication and leadership skills to benefit their communities. The new name stands for “explore, develop, grow and empower.”

Tracy native graduates from military prep school

Brandon Van Patten, an Eagle Scout from Tracy’s Troop 515, graduated Saturday from Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas.

He also received the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States Award in recognition of academic and military excellence.

Van Patten will attend Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., where he plans to study psychology and criminal justice. He plans to join the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer after college.

In Tracy, Van Patten attended Monticello Elementary School, Jefferson School and Kimball High School, transferring to Marine Military Academy after his freshman year. He is a second-degree black belt in taekwondo.

He is the son of Liz Nonato De Jesus and the late Phil Van Patten.

• Accolades runs in Our Town whenever we hear about someone who has done something noteworthy and deserves kudos for it. If you have news for Accolades, send information by email to, or drop off a note at the Tracy Press office, 131 W. 10th St.

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