Palisades Optimists Award Two College Scholarships

by Sue Pascoe

Palisades High School seniors Biniyam Asnake and Ethan Acevedo were awarded scholarships by the Pacific Palisades Optimist Club in June. Asnake will attend Claremont McKenna College and Acevedo will go to Humboldt State.

“My mom [Asegedech Lemma] has always told me that ‘Education is the key to success’ and that has really stuck with me throughout high school,” Asnake said. “I try to give everything I do my best effort.”

Optimist Dan Ackerman presented scholarships to Ethan Acevedo and Biniyam Asnake (right).
Optimist Dan Ackerman presented scholarships to Ethan Acevedo and Biniyam Asnake (right).













Asnake, who was born in Ethiopia and now lives in the West Adams neighborhood, moved with his family to the U.S. at age 5. He attended nearby elementary schools and John Burroughs Middle School before securing an opening at PaliHi, a charter school.

“I took the school bus every day,” said Asnake, whose father passed away when he was 10. “It picked me up at 6:40 a.m. from a nearby school.”

“My favorite subjects are math and history,” Asnake said. During his senior year, he took AP calculus and AP physics. He was one of three seniors to receive a year-end math award.

“Math is straightforward and comes easily to me,” Asnake said. “I got excited taking calculus this year because I got to see all the things I’d learned come together and I was able to tackle real-life problems.”

He likes history because “it’s interesting getting to know about different cultures and ways of life. Learning history has allowed me to have a broader perspective on the world, understand why things are the way they are now and understand people better.”

PaliHi’s tutoring coordinator Melinda Meinen thanked Asnake for his year of volunteering in the counseling center. “You made a significant difference in the lives of many struggling students and I appreciate your service,” she wrote.

Asnake also earned Dillon Henry and PTSA Community Service scholarships to help pay for college. His mom works as a nurse in Clinical Informatics at Southern California Hospital.

Acevedo lives in Hollywood, where, he jokingly says, “the red carpet leads to my front door.”

All four years at Pali, he had to take the Metro Sunset bus to school.“I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to catch the bus,” Acevedo said. “I’m on it for an hour and a half, both ways.” He earlier attended Paul Revere Middle School.

“My parents told me that I can do anything I wanted to,” Acevedo said. “If I can dream it, then anything is possible. I have pushed through so many obstacles and barriers, including waking up at the crack of dawn since middle school, to reach my goals and to keep following my dream.”

In sixth grade, Acevedo read the quote: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That shaped his choice of going to Humboldt to major in zoology and ultimately to UC Davis to become a veterinarian.

Acevedo explained, “Throughout high school my parents pressured me into choosing my major and looking into jobs of the new era or successful jobs such as engineering or computer programming.”

He said his parents were even agreeable to his becoming a videogame designer. “They knew I would sit and play video games all day if I could.”

He took a month-long summer program at USC, where “I learned how to code, make character sprites and how to make a video game.” But he also realized that although videogame design was fun and the salaries good, “I wouldn’t want to do this all my life.”

Reflecting, Acevedo realized the one constant in his life was his love of animals. In high school, his favorite subjects were the sciences, mainly biology.

Acevedo also won PTSA Community ServiceandMasonicLodgescholarships. His father, Mynor, works for the L.A. County Mental Health Department and his mom, Lubia, is a social worker.

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