Encouraging Creativity in SDUSD and Beyond: The 2024 Larry Baza Scholarship and 2023 Awardees

Do you know an exceptional artistic SDUSD highschool senior looking to advance their education in higher ed? If so, they would be an excellent applicant to our Annual Larry Baza High School Arts Scholarship, which will open in early Spring! 

In celebration of the legacy of arts advocate Larry Baza, the VAPA Foundation proudly awarded scholarships to two remarkable high school seniors from the San Diego Unified School District’s graduating class of 2023. Leslie Pagel and Paulina Perez emerged as shining stars, recognized for their outstanding contributions to the arts and their ambitious artistic aspirations.


Leslie Pagel: A Visionary Visual Artist

From Crawford High School, Leslie Pagel is a multi-disciplinary visual artist whose creativity stems from her life experiences as an LGBTQ+ youth and an immigrant from Tijuana to San Diego. Leslie’s artistic vision centers on illustrating intersectional, queer stories through a graphic novel—a heartfelt homage to her community. She envisions her work as a catalyst for inclusivity and representation. With the support of the Larry Baza Scholarship, Leslie has embarked on her artistic journey at the University of California, Berkeley, shaping a path to bring her narratives to life.


Paulina Perez: A Melodic Maestro

A graduate of Mission Bay High School, Paulina Perez’s musical journey is as diverse as her vocal talents. As a member of The Mission Bay Preservationists, a prestigious traditional youth jazz band, Paulina’s musical prowess blossomed. Her appreciation for Mariachi, Soul, and Jazz has been pivotal in shaping her artistry. Grateful for the support of the scholarship, Paulina has begun the next phase of her musical odyssey at the University of California, Los Angeles Herb Alpert School of Music, where she aims to further hone her vocal abilities and explore new musical horizons.

A Legacy of Empowering Artists:

As Leslie and Paulina embark on their higher education journeys, their stories echo the profound impact of mentorship and support in fostering the next generation of creative visionaries. The scholarship not only honors their achievements but also sets the stage for their transformative contributions to the world of arts.


The VAPA Foundation remains dedicated to continuing the legacy of supporting budding artists, ensuring that the Larry Baza Scholarship serves as a beacon of hope and encouragement for aspiring artists within the San Diego Unified School District.

Be sure to look out for our announcement once the 2024 application is available!

The VAPA Foundation is a local San Diego nonprofit whose mission is to increase access to and enhance the quality of arts education in the San Diego Unified School District. The VAPA Foundation believes that an education infused with the arts transforms the lives of young people. By using data, VAPA targets its programs to schools that demonstrate the most need. Often collaborating with local artists and organizations to bridge the gap between them and SDUSD through its programs. They have served 105,793 students and supported 260 teachers. For more information visit: https://vapafoundation.org/

Please email us at: info@vapafoundation.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *