|Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski poses for a photo with scholarship-winner Michaela of Napa High School.|
Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, Oakland Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski surprised Napa High School senior Michaela by presenting her with the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Award during class. Michaela was selected by the Raiders to receive a special honor awarded to only six students in the Bay Area. Gradkowski acknowledged Michaela's achievements while also taking the time to motivate her classmates to continue their success beyond high school.
The Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Program receives applications from schools in nine Bay Area counties annually. Student advisors recommend two female and two male seniors who have displayed outstanding achievement in the classroom, community, and in sports.
Michaela's community work was at the core of her scholarship essay. "I wrote about starting a club my junior year called Care Compassion and Rejuvenation for the Elderly, so I wrote about my experience doing care," said Michaela. "I also wrote about my trips to New Orleans. I've been going for the past four years to rebuild houses there. I also spoke about playing water polo." Michaela will be using the scholarship when she attends Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in the fall.
Gradkowski, a graduate of the University of Toledo, is no stranger to hard work and dedication to be successful in school and on the field. The Raiders quarterback was excited to make an appearance at Michaela's high school to present the prestigious award. "To be able to present to her today and to see the excitement was very cool," explained Gradkowski. "I think it was an awesome thing for Michaela. That's a great achievement as a high school senior to get a scholarship to help out for college."
This was Napa High's first student to receive the scholarship and having an Oakland Raider visit made the moment even brighter. Principal Barbara Franco was thrilled for Michaela. "We are really proud to have Michaela be awarded the scholarship being that we've submitted names of kids for a number of different years," said Franco. "It's a local scholarship supported by the professional sports teams in the Bay Area and I think it's really an honor for our school to have somebody recognized by athletes."
Michaela's student advisor Jeanette Mulgrew explained it was "because she's awesome – academically, athletically, as a person and a community service volunteer. She is one of the few of that quality."
While the award was being presented to Michaela in a room full of excited Napa High seniors who are only days away from graduation, Gradkowski offered the students advice. He explained how it is important to continue to focus on education and learning, and to also focus on time management. He wanted to make sure the students took Michaela's achievements as an example and to continue those accomplishments in college.
"We need to remind kids how important their education is because nowadays you have to go to college," explained Gradkowski. "Getting that high school education, doing well and then moving on to college is always good. It's good to see such a good school like Napa High with someone achieving that."
For Michaela, having Gradkowski present the award made receiving the scholarship even more extraordinary. For the graduating seniors, having Gradkowski visit their classroom added some extra excitement to their last days at Napa High.