Atherton PAL awards $20,000 in scholarships


Four high school seniors from Atherton schools have been awarded $5,000 scholarships by the Atherton Police Activities League: Clairesina Fifita and Mirian Melendez from Sacred Heart Preparatory, and Joseph Lohmann and Jenny Ruiz-Venegas from Menlo-Atherton High School.

Fifita threw the discus and shot put on Sacred Heart's track team and played junior varsity soccer. She also sings and plays the trumpet and ukulele, and is trilingual -- speaking Tongan, Spanish and English. Fifita said she wants to go into the medical field, and will attend the University of Hawaii.

Lohmann played lacrosse, ran cross country and played AYSO soccer while at Menlo-Atherton. He was the founder and president of the Ronald McDonald House Club and won the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Social Justice award for his strong grades, commitment to difficult social issues and leadership in community action.

Lohmann also received a National Merit Scholar Commendation and a President's Volunteer Service Award, was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, and was a member of the California Scholarship Federation and National Honor Society. He plans to study pre-med biological science and either international relations or anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ruiz-Venegas received awards for having a high GPA and tutoring third-graders. She also participates in her neighborhood's annual canned food drive. She will attend the University of California, Merced, with the goal of entering the medical field.

Melendez participated in soccer, drama, chorus and the girls a cappella group at Sacred Heart. She will attend Loyola Marymount University to study sociology with a goal of going into law or public policy.

The PAL program started in 2004 and has awarded more than $170,000 in scholarships. All funding is donated by Atherton residents.

For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Frew at 650-752-0503 or

Note: No photo of Ruiz-Venegas was available.


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