Rising Tide Leadership Award Provides Summer Leadership Opportunities to High School Students

The Portland Public Schools and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools are thrilled to announce the winners of the 4th annual Rising Tide Leadership Awards. This year, Sophia Kapita, a student at Casco Bay High School, and Jose Lusinga Sasenga, a student at Portland High School, were selected from six outstanding applicants representing all three Portland high schools. 

The Rising Tide Leadership Award was created by educators to honor Linda Ward, a staff member at Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual and Multicultural Center, and to celebrate the life of her son, John Williams Burgess. In honor of Linda Ward’s lifetime of work with immigrant populations and John’s lifetime legacy of scholarship and experiential learning, the award annually provides two immigrant high school students from Portland Public Schools with a range of opportunities to pursue academic and personal interests, strengthen college applications, and develop leadership skills through unique summer program experiences.

Both of this year’s winners are outstanding students engaged in a wide range of extracurricular and civic activities. Sophia, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hopes to become a doctor and open a hospital some day in the DRC that can serve anyone, regardless of income. She plans to use her Rising Tide award to attend a two week, pre-college program at Duke University in the summer of 2022.

Jose, who immigrated from Angola, is also interested in pursuing a career in medicine. He hopes to either attend a summer program in medicine at Harvard University or the University of San Diego this summer.

The Rising Tide award will cover all costs of these summer programs as well as travel expenses.