Two Blue Valley students named Coca-Cola Scholars

Two Blue Valley students’ mission to serve their community while excelling in the classroom have earned them national recognition and a $20,000 scholarship each. Blue Valley Southwest’s Yaseen El-Demerdash and Blue Valley West’s  Manya Gauba were selected as 2021 Coca-Cola Scholars, an honor that only 150 students in the nation can claim annually. Coca-Cola Scholars are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities.

While attending Blue Valley Southwest, El-Demerdash co-founded Heartland STEM Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization offering grants to educators across Kansas and Nebraska to support robotics and STEM activities. He also created and coached two FIRST robotics teams after securing $100,000 in funding to start robotics programs at all five high schools in the district. In addition to his passion for robotics, El-Demerdash is a distinguished athlete. He is a swimmer on the Southwest swim team and the US Paralympic National Team. He currently holds 4 American Records, is an 8x Paralympic All American, and 6x record holder at Blue Valley Southwest.

“Yaseen is an outstanding student, athlete and leader at our school,” said Scott Roberts, Blue Valley Southwest principal. “He has been a tremendous asset to our entire community!”

Manya Gauba, a senior at Blue Valley West, is pushing for change and empowerment of girls in education. Gauba is the founder and CEO of GiSTEM Co., a nonprofit on a mission to bridge the STEM gender gap. While active outside Blue Valley, Gauba is also very active within the Blue Valley community. She is the founder and president of Blue Valley West’s Girls in STEM and UNICEF clubs, promoting diversity and human rights. She also has a biological patent pending to mitigate global warming, further showing her commitment to change.

“What sets Manya apart is her commitment to serve others and make the world a better place and the drive she has to take action,” said Brett Potts, Blue Valley West principal. “She deserves this honor so much and is absolutely exceptional!”


El-Demerdash and Gauba were the only scholars selected in the state of Kansas. To see a complete list of scholars visit the Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation’s website.