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Poet, actress and volunteer Erin Valoroso ’18 receives four-year college scholarship

When she was younger, Erin Valoroso ’18 was one of those kids dragged by her parents from museum exhibit to gallery space.

Those trips through the museums paid off for Valoroso, who is a poet, writer and publicist, active with both The Quill and SI Live.

But it was her leadership and generosity as a volunteer with Breakthrough San Francisco that led to her receiving a four-year scholarship to the University of Puget Sound. Valoroso is the first student in the history of SI to receive this prestigious scholarship, awarded by The Posse Foundation. 

Valoroso’s passion for creativity stems, in part, from her parents, who, when they came to San Francisco from Hawaii, joined an artists’ collective that incorporated indigenous Filipino history and modern art. 

“It was cool growing up with parents who are artists,” said Valoroso. “They took me to many openings and asked me to look deeper into the works displayed. At first, I resented it, as I was surrounded by art that I didn’t understand and that I needed my parents to explain to me. Later, I found it cool seeing a world that not a lot of kids my age knew about. Often I was the only kid in these galleries, and that experience shaped my interests.”

Valoroso’s artistic expression comes through poetry. She serves on the editorial board of SI’s literary magazine, The Quill, which also honored her for a poem she wrote in her sophomore year. That same year, she took second place at the Battle of the Beach poetry slam competition at Gateway High School. She is also a leader in SI’s Slam Poetry Club, which made it to the semifinals last year in a regional competition. 

She also writes and acts for SI Live, a sketch comedy club at SI modeled after Saturday Night Live. This past year, she spearheaded the publicity team that promoted the show to fellow classmates.

Her experience helping others began in middle school, where she received a silver Presidential Service Award for completing more than 100 volunteer hours. At SI, she continued her tradition of service both with Miss Unlimited — a pageant for girls with developmental differences — and at Breakthrough San Francisco, which helps students with limited educational opportunities attend college. 

“I was volunteering, serving as a teacher’s aide during the summer of 2017, when some of the administrators noticed me,” said Valoroso. “They heard of my experience and later learned what I was doing at SI. They thought I’d be a good candidate for the Posse Scholarship.”

To apply for the scholarship, she went through a lengthy interview process. “It was more holistic, almost like a retreat,” she noted. “We sat in groups and talked about life. It reminded me of my junior and senior retreats, and I was able to use some of the skills that I picked up on those retreats. My history of art helped too. I spoke about the designs I did for the SI Live t-shirts and my work as a poet and writer.”

Eloisa Almaraz, program director for Posse Bay Area, praised “Erin’s mature demeanor and thoughtfulness. Throughout her leadership journey, Erin emphasized community and relationship building. The well-rounded leadership qualities that Erin has explored as a young adult are the building blocks necessary for success in the classroom and in social settings. Erin has the potential to inspire people and create community.”

Valoroso’s college counselor, Anna Maria Vaccaro, added that “ever since she entered the doors of SI, Erin has been bursting with energy, advocacy and positivity. She continues to model for others the importance of being your own person. She is a woman of action, not just words, and those actions have propelled her to be a person who will elevate our consciousness and motivate us to rise up.”

At Puget Sound, Valoroso plans to use her scholarship to study environmental science and anthropology and enter the school’s Southeast Asian Studies Program. 

Posted by Mr. Paul J. Totah on Monday April 2
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