Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Fortuna High School student Risa Balcom has plans to attend Stanford University, study hard, and become a doctor of internal medicine and diagnostics. “I have very high expectations of myself, and huge goals,” she said, “and attending Stanford takes determination, dedication, excellent grades, high SAT scores and much more. I believe in myself, that this is an obtainable goal.”

The Fortuna Kiwanis Club also believes in Risa, and recently gave her a laptop computer to assist in her pursuits. Risa and several of her teachers at Fortuna High School wrote letters to the Fortuna Kiwanis Club asking for assistance in “bridging the gap of technology and the lack of ability to financially obtain it.” That's how Social Science teacher Rachel Heavilin described the situation. “A laptop computer would help Risa be even more successful academically,” Heavilin said. “In addition, it would go a long way in aiding her personal goal of attending a university and becoming a doctor.”

Until she received the laptop, Risa was trying to complete all her computer-related homework in the school library, which is only open during school hours. “A home computer would be a tremendous help to me for my senior year,” Risa said, “because of various typed essays and projects and online quizzes I am going to have to complete for nearly all of my classes.


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Moved to tears when she received the laptop from the Fortuna Kiwanis Club, Risa expressed her gratitude for the generous donation. Risa has an overall GPA of 4.45 and holds several leadership positions at Fortuna High School. She is the Youth Alive president, California Scholarship Federation treasurer, and a member of the Ski Club and Fortuna Creeks Project. Risa was also selected as the Girls' State delegate for the 2010-2011 school year. “Girls' State inspired me,” she said. “I had the opportunity to learn about the processes involved in our state government.”

Risa has also been a member of the high school tennis team, earning her Varsity letter during her junior year. She was also selected as Most Valuable Player by her teammates during the 2010 tennis year.

”I know that I can be and do whatever I want to do because I am a talented, strong, and smart Individual,” Risa said, a statement echoed by her teachers and representatives of the Fortuna Kiwanis Club who presented her the laptop computer.

photo caption:

Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

The Fortuna Kiwanis Club made a special presentation to Risa Balcom, a student at Fortuna High School. Risa received a donation of a computer from the club, based on her letter and those of some of her teachers, that were sent to the Kiwanis. From left, Fortuna High School Science Teacher Pam Halstead, Fortuna High School student Risa Balcom, and Fortuna Rotary representatives Don Brown, and Sally Conley.