Horizon Class of 2020 Student Receives Full-Tuition Ivy League Scholarship
With a full-tuition, 4-year scholarship in hand, Horizon Charter Schools graduate Juliana (Julia) Luna is on her way to Columbia University in the fall where she will study creative writing and human rights on a pre-law track. After that, she plans to go to law school and get a Juris Doctorate, then become either a professor or a district attorney.
Of her options, Julia enthusiastically said, “Either way, I know I will be doing a lot of writing and activism!”
The Road to Columbia University
Julia came to Horizon from a small private school. With a desire to attend an ivy league university, she chose to switch to Horizon so she could take Advance Placement (AP) classes and participate in dual enrollment at a local community college.
“Horizon was a crucial part of me getting into Columbia. I left my school to come to Horizon because I could take AP and college classes. Showing colleges that you can handle rigorous classes is really important to admissions,” Julia explained. “I knew my college application was lacking Advanced Placement classes. I was looking at colleges and admissions officers were constantly talking about how they look for students who push themselves. I had an immense amount of extra curriculars, but I just felt I needed to do more academically to really be in the running for these schools.”
Julia took three classes at American River College during her senior year at Horizon: public speaking, astronomy, and psychology. She enjoyed being in classes with people of various ages and backgrounds and feels it helped to prepare her for going to Columbia. She did so well in her community college classes that one of her professors wrote her a letter of recommendation to use for her college applications!
The Benefits of Independent Study
“My heart’s desire was to attend an Ivy League school because I had grown so fond of Columbia University’s esteemed writing program,” Julia continued. “Horizon just seemed to open the door to tailoring what I needed to manage my time and take more challenging classes. For me this was the best fit and allowed me to show how dedicated I was to learning.”
While at Horizon, Julia participated in the independent study program and took all of her high school classes via distance learning. She appreciated the flexibly independent study gave her, which allowed her to take AP and community college classes as well as gave her time to apply to the 20 colleges that interested her.
“It is very time consuming writing multiple essays per university and my grades, standardized tests and essays were a high priority to me in order to get in the schools I wanted,” Julia noted. “With a freed-up schedule, I was also able to participate in the Sacramento District Attorney Youth Academy which was excellent opportunity to learn more about the justice system.”
She also attended summer programs at California State University, Sacramento through Academic Talent Search and a creative writing intensive at Stony Brook University in Long Island called the Young Artists and Writers Project.
When reflecting upon her time at Horizon, Julia noted, “Horizon definitely helped me get in to Columbia University by providing the room to challenge myself. Even though Horizon is a charter school, and I did Independent Study, I still got to experience the best parts of a traditional school. I’ve had amazing teachers, a wonderful guidance counselor in Melora Klusnick, got to be secretary at CSF, and made some sweet friends I’ll stay in touch with.”
Scholarships and Honors — Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work
All of her hard work paid off. Julia was accepted by Columbia, and they awarded her a full tuition scholarship for four years! In addition, Julia received a variety of awards and recognitions, including:
- National Hispanic Scholar Award
- National Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Northern California Region, 2019 Scholarship
- Horizon Charter Schools Education Foundation Scholarship
- 2-time State Senate Scholastic Achievement Winner for Academics, Leadership and Writing
- 3-time State Senate Scholastic Gold Medal Winner for Speech — earning a perfect score in April 2019
- Highest Honors 4.0+ GPA
- Golden State Merit Diploma
- California Scholarship Federation (CSF) Life Member
- CSF Seymour Memorial Award
- A-G Completer
Given her impressive list of recognitions and awards, you might assume Julia did little else but study. However, she also makes time for several of her passions, including embroidery, performance art and anything that lets her be creative.
“I’m so excited for the various art, community outreach, and writing clubs at Columbia,” she said. “I can’t wait to go to the museums and be immersed in the City of New York. Plus, my sister attends NYU, so we are excited to be near each other in New York.”
Helping Her Community and Feeding Her Creative Side
In 2015, Julia’s sister, Hope, founded Center Stage Productions which offers low-fee theater camps. Hope was the Artistic Director and Julia taught dance and acting. When Hope left for college a few years ago, Julia took over as Artistic Director. As part of her duties, Julia writes scripts and choreographs dances. She also oversees all aspects of the student learning experience and added art and sign language to the curriculum.
“It is so rewarding seeing them grow in confidence and helping them find their talents. Center Stage Productions camps have hard lives. Students come who have learning disabilities, financial instability, and incarcerated parents. There are kids who come hungry and ones who will not let go of our hands starving for attention,” Julia said. “Being able to teach them self-confidence and creativity is the most rewarding leadership experience I’ve had.”
Independent Study Graduate is a True Inspiration
In December of 2019, Julia was selected as one of Inspiring Teens Magazine’s “Outstanding Teen Leaders and Influencers.” In her nomination, Alicia Crosson from Alicia Crosson Photography noted, “Julia is passionate about writing, social justice and making a difference. Her work ethic, creativity and leadership abilities are so inspiring!”
Julia definitely is an inspiration! We are proud to have played a part in helping this amazing and talented student achieve her goals. We know many great things are in store for her future, and the world will definitely be a better place because of Julia Luna.