News Releases » Seaside High Student Named 2022 Bezos Scholar

Seaside High Student Named 2022 Bezos Scholar

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News release published by the Bezos Scholar Program.

Sarah Lester Guzman and Jaqueline Ballestre

Media Contact: Sara Billups [email protected] 




MAY 5, 2022, SEASIDE —Today, the Bezos Scholars Program (BSP) is proud to announce Seaside High School student Jacqueline Ballesteros Martinez and educator Sarah Lester Guzmán as part of the 2022 Scholars cohort. The Bezos Scholars Program inspires and challenges young people to address issues they are passionate about in their communities.


Jacqueline is passionate about addressing inequalities in her community. She said, “I hope that my experience as a scholar gives me the tools and opportunities to work more efficiently to reshape Seaside.”


Jacqueline is a first-generation Mexican American student at Seaside High School. She is president of the Ocean Defenders club where she works with community members and peers to implement beach clean-ups for her community. Jackie is part of the Nationals Honors Society and Latino Club. She works alongside these clubs to engage and involve more students in caring for their community and the environment. She aims to help them be more conscious and conscientious of how they can tangibly reduce waste and make a positive impact on the climate crisis.


The applicant pool is competitive; students selected are one of twelve Scholars representing eight states this year. Scholars are selected based on commitment to their education, demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and the desire to create positive change in their communities.


Jacqueline will be supported by her educator scholar Sarah Lester Guzmán, an educator at Seaside High School.


Sarah grew up on an organic walnut farm in Northern California and has worked in the city of Seaside since 2001. She is a National Board-certified World Language Teacher, teaching Spanish and supporting other educators in a highly diverse coastal community sandwiched between

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the agricultural center of Salinas Valley. Sarah values experiential learning through project-based instruction weaving real-world topics into her Spanish language instruction. During the past couple of years, she has been the ocean guardian lead teacher and participated in the Monterey Bay Aquarium Plastic Pollution and Climate Change Summits. More recently she has been working on educating and implementing waste improvement programs that urge community members to rethink and reduce their plastic consumption.


Sarah said the following about the opportunity to support these young leaders, “I am excited to be a Bezos Scholar because I look forward to developing a solid understanding of how to carry out a community-wide campaign and taking a student's project to the next level.”


The Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program in 2005 to provide young people a platform to design solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing their communities. The program begins with an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival. The week is filled with leadership training, panel discussions, and exclusive conversations with many of the world’s most acclaimed scientists, journalists, artists, and global thought leaders. This experience sets the stage for the challenge ahead: launching sustainable projects, known as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs), to transform their communities.


The topics and themes of LIFs are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and are designed to align Scholars’ passions with an existing community need. Many address inequities in education, advocating for the rights of minorities and underrepresented communities, and the need to create space for civil discourse. Since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 attendees have participated in these change projects.




The Bezos Scholars Program is a year-long leadership development program for rising high school seniors and an educator from their school. It begins with an opportunity to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival and continues through the following school year when Bezos Scholars return home, participate in virtual trainings, and launch sustainable community change projects which transform their schools and communities. For 17 years, Scholar teams have mobilized communities around a range of critical issues.