CalRTA Division 43 (California Retired Teachers Association) this year awarded seven $1,000 scholarships to Deserts Sands Unified School District students.

Winners are Katherine Dolan, Kathryn Fisher, Sophia Gonzalez, Emma Ortiz, Jessenia Perez, Greta Tauferner, and Aidan Wilson.

CalRTA is an organization of retired educators from throughout eastern Riverside County. Each year they award scholarships to students whose parents are in the business of providing and supporting education.

Recipients of the scholarships are:



Aidan Wilson

Aidan Wilson, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Meredith Wilson, Las Palmitas Elementary School (Coachella Valley Unified School District)

Aidan will be graduating Summa Cum Laude from La Quinta High School this year. In addition to his academic success, Aidan was a member of the varsity swim and water Ppolo teams. He participated in

“Read Across America” for four years and was president of the Teachers Club, a member of Thespian Society, and the Environmental Club. He plans to earn his degree in the sciences of climate change, biology, or ecology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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Greta Tauferner

Greta Tauferner, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Meredith Wheeler, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Greta participated in the International Baccalaureate Program, lettered all four years on the honor roll, participated on the dance team, and did community service with the National Charity League in which she volunteered at the Narrow Door, Bianca Rae Foundation, and Safe House of the Desert. She has not yet decided on a major, but thinks perhaps a career in engineering like her grandfather, insurance/risk management like her step-father, or a business in which she uses math. She will be attending Oregon State University in the fall.

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Jessenia Perez

Jessenia Perez, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parents: Michele and Jesus Perez, Desert Mirage High School (Coachella Valley Unified School District)

Jessenia not only excels academically, but is involved in many extra-curricular activities as well. She was captain of her volleyball team, a member of the Spirit Club, MEChA Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Interact “Rotary” Club. Jessenia participated in many community service activities through the National Charity League Desert Cities and volunteers with the Young Woman Leaders Program of Coachella Valley. Jessenia’s dream is to become a speech and language pathologist at an elementary

school that serves children in low socio-economic communities. In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Jessenia wants to earn her Masters and perhaps her Doctorate degree so that she can have her own private practice, in which she could offer free speech services. She will be attending University of Hawaii in the fall.

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Katherine Dolan

Katherine Dolan, Palm Desert High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Mary Dolan, Lincoln Elementary School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Katie completed the Capstone Diploma at Palm Desert High School, which demonstrates a student’s commitment to mastering research, argumentation, and communication skills that are at the core of college academic readiness. This College Board program is a series of two one-year Advanced Placement classes. She has volunteered during her summer at Palm Desert Public Library and two years as a Junior

Volunteer at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. Katie wishes to become a physical therapist by studying at the University of New Mexico where she plans to attend in the fall.

♦ ♦ ♦

Kathryn Fisher

Kathryn Fisher

Kathryn Fisher, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Laura Fisher, Assistant Superintendent Student Services (Desert Sands Unified School District)

“In the beginning, school was a means of going to college. Now, school is why I want to go to college.” Kathryn’s words depict her academic goal. After completing the International Baccalaureate Program at La Quinta High School, she is poised to begin the process of completing her doctorate degree in science. Her goal is to help people by deciphering biology’s intricate universe. Kathryn has applied to the University of California at Davis and the University of Oklahoma.

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Emma Ortiz

Emma Ortiz

Emma Ortiz, La Quinta High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Kimberly Ortiz, Mountain Vista Elementary School (Coachella Valley Unified School District)

Emma’s participated in the La Quinta High School Environmental Club, recycling and planting flowers and bushes on campus. In addition to her academic achievements, Emma has been a member of the LQHS tennis team. She also volunteers at the La Quinta Public Library. Emma plans to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara and earn her degree in biology. She plans to become a physician’s assistant.


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Scholarships Awarded to 7 DSUSD Students

Sophia Gonzalez

Sophia Gonzalez, Shadow Hills High School (Desert Sands Unified School District)

Parent: Conrado Gonzalez (Coachella Valley Unified School District)

Sophia balanced her time among Advanced Placement classes, the water polo team, and Girl Scouts. She also volunteers to serve at her church, setting up audiovisual equipment, and assisting with the toddler and pre-school classes. Sophia will attend the University of California at San Diego to study in the medical program. She plans to become an endocrinologist and return to the Coachella Valley to help improve people’s lives through a free wellness center where people are able to learn about the Latino population’s diseases, especially diabetes.

For more information on CalRTA Division 43 click here.


Image Sources

  • Aidan Wilson: DSUSD
  • greta-tauferner: DSUSD
  • jessenia-perez: DSUSD
  • Kathryn Fisher: DSUSD
  • Emma Ortiz: DSUSD
  • Scholarship: Shutterstock