Culver City Observer -

Six Local Students Win Culver Elks Scholarships


By David W. Myers

Contributing Editor

Six local high-schoolers, including three from Culver City High, have won the Culver City Elks’ annual “Most Valuable Student” scholarship contest.

Three of the six scholarships went to young women, and the other half to young men. All six will head to college this fall, pursuing degrees ranging from engineering to medicine and law.

“It’s a privilege for the Culver City Elks to honor these outstanding students,” said C. Michael Melton, who chaired the Elks’ Scholarship Committee and hosted the awards ceremony last week at the Elks Lodge on Washington Place.

“These young women and men represent the future of America,” Melton told the crowd of about 60 who attended the event. “All of us have a stake in their success.”

Winners of the Elks’ annual contest are chosen based on a variety of factors, including scholastic achievement, financial need, and voluntary service to their community.

Culver High’s Jaimal Ichharam, 17, ranked highest among the young men who entered the local contest. He lives in the city’s Arts Districtwith his parents, Meera and Rajesh Ichharam.

The teenager is actively involved in Culver High’s award-winning Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) program and also tutors children from several local elementary schools in math skills.

The teenager will attend Harvard University this fall and will seek degrees in both math and physics. He plans to become a university professor.

Culver High’s Emma Kurihara, 18, also won an Elks scholarship. A volunteer for many community-service projects, she lives in the Lindberg Park community with her parents, Carol Inge and Jack Kurihara.

The young woman will attend Brown University in Rhode Island in autumn to pursue degrees in both sociology and math. She plans a career in social work that incorporates economic principles and planning.

“I’m very grateful to the Elks for this scholarship,” Kurihara said after the ceremony. “College is such an expensive proposition, and every bit helps.”

Sterling Salvaterra, 17, is another senior at Culver High who participates in several community-service efforts. He also is a standout player on the school’s water polo and badminton teams and lives with his parents, Joan and Mark Salvaterra.

Sterling Salvaterra will go to the prestigious UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering, on his path toward a career in video software production, design and development.

Genevieve Javidzad, 18, is a senior at Beverly Hills High. Her parents, Rebecca and Shawn Javidzad, are proud of her “straight-A” grades and the volunteer work she’s doing at UCLA Medical Center.

The teenager will enter UCLA this fall, planning to get a degree in science and begin a career in medicine or law.

Elana Stroud, 18, lives in Culver Crest and is a senior at the private Harvard-Westlake School. She will attend John Hopkins University this fall and pursue degrees in computer sciences and international relations, planning to become a cyber-security analyst for the military.

Alan Grusky, 18, is a Westside student at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. His mother, Hedy Zhang, said that her son will enter UCLA later this year to study physiology and plans to become a doctor.

The annual competition involves the 2,000 Lodges of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks across the nation. Culver City BPOE Lodge 1917 operates the program on a local basis for seniors who attend Culver High and other nearby schools.

Local winners can then progressively advance to the district, state and national competitions. The 500 winners of the nationwide contest can receive up to $15,000 each year from the Elks to attend a four-year college or university, part of the nearly $4 million that the Elks National Foundation awards in scholarships annually.

The Culver City Elks Lodge is one of the oldest community-service groups on the Westside and is part of a network that has more than 870,000 members across the United States.

Information about the next scholarship competition, other Elks-sponsored community events or joining the local Elks Lodge can be obtained by visiting its facility at 11160 Washington Place or by calling its on-site office, (310) 839-8891.


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