2017 APIASF Scholar Profiles

APIASF/3M Scholarship


Nou Lor
Hometown: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Institution: Hamline University
Major: Criminal Justice

I'm a Hmong boy who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. At the age of six, my family immigrated to the U.S. in 2006, landed in Minnesota. My view of America was different from where I was born. More education and opportunities for kids and parents. But, one thing I felt the most struggle is learning how to speak and write in English. Today, I still struggle. I can't write professionally. I cannot use big vocabulary. I still have grammatical errors and I still misunderstanding of the many rules of English. Learning English, it took years. From first grade to now, I'm still not perfect, but each year, I see myself improving. As a person who like to challenge myself, I didn't give up.

Being the only Hmong person in AP English Language and Composition, I was the only one that struggled. My classmates, they worked their butt off. But me, I was like a turtle that finished last and didn't understand the materials. However, being the only Hmong, helped inspire me. I asked myself, "I can be like them. If they can do it then I can do it. Why I cannot do it and why they can?'' After seeing my AP Exam score, a one, I felt happy. I am proud of the work I've done- the 30 essays I had written nights and days for it, and plus, I finished this class with an A-. I trust this class will be useful for my future life.

My dream job is to become an FBI Agent and a police officer. Why? First, I was inspired and got motivated by my grandma. She wanted me to becoming a police officer, which is a good career job and I see myself fit best to this jobs. I am a person who cares and want to help and protect others. I know becoming an FBI Agent is hard, but I won't give up, I believe myself that I can do it.

When I saw the congratulatory email, all I felt was happiness. My College Possible Coach, my teachers, my friends, and my family were super proud of me. They said, "Because of your hard work, Nou, you deserved this scholarship." All I can said, "Thank God for believing in me."

As a low-income student without much parents support on financial needs, this scholarship is a door that opens opportunities for me to succeed my career goals and future aspirations. Thank you so much for this opportunity, 3M. This scholarship will open opportunities for me to pursue my long-term goals, such as attending the dream college of mine, and majoring in criminal justice- the road that will lead me to become an FBI Agent. Plus, with a college degree in one of these areas, I hope to impact my community in various ways. I plan to help out young teenagers who are in their transition to high school. In today's society, there are many negative factors that influence teenagers. For example, I have seen many high schoolers slacking and becoming addicted to drugs. Many of these students smoke in bathrooms, and skip class to do negative things. I want to help them understand the importance of setting goals and how the future is important. Lastly, I hope I can inspire them and make a change in their life that they can become great role models for their children and other young people. This is what I dream to accomplish in the next ten to twenty years. Again, thank you so much for making my dreams possible.

APIASF/AT&T Foundation Scholarship


Anjana Lamichhaney
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Institution: University of Texas - Arlington
Major: Biology

I am a girl who once felt like a bird whose wings were clipped and could not fly. My society rejected the idea that women could express ideas or have careers; instead, they believed we were created to work in the home. I grew up in a small village, where without vehicles it was difficult to reach hospitals, so people used wisdom from elders to treat injuries and delivered babies at home. Without sanitation, disease kept spreading and causes lots of death. Living through this sadness inspired a passion and lifelong career goal that would never have been possible in Nepal, becoming a physician.

Therefore, we moved to the United States when I was only 10 years old in a hope for better life and education. When I walked into school I realized I had a problem; I didn't know the language of my new country. It was hard to connect with people and frustrating to never understand the lessons. Then I realized I had a choice: to take advantage of my opportunity or throw it away. I decided to take it. I began reading every day and forced myself to interact with English-speakers from different backgrounds. In high school, I volunteered, earned a summer internship, joined Debate, and became the first girl from my culture to play volleyball.

Life was going well until my father decided it should change. Watching me speak English and make friends from other races made him nervous. He became convinced I was taking the wrong path, forbade me from the activities I loved, and told me to focus on housework. Quitting the groups was depressing, but it was sadder that my dad was stuck on traditional gender roles beliefs. Instead of giving up, I advocated for myself. Finally, he agreed I could continue with Debate and when we won the Dallas Urban Alliance, I showed him I was more than what our society believed; I could be a champion.

With so many negatives, it would have been easy to quit dreaming about a future. Instead, my culture shaped me into a strong, determined woman enthusiastic about the challenges ahead. Next year I will attend T-Arlington to major in Biology, then continue my path to becoming a cardiologist. Once I had no choices but now, I choose to focus on my goal and never stop. I choose to be myself, listen to my brain, and follow my heart. I choose to be my own motivation and never let anyone pull me down. I choose to be the bird who can fly. I choose to believe in me.

This is happening because of a magnificent people like AT&T's members who have such a big heart to listen to a small girl like me and my story. Thank you very much for considering me for this scholarship. This will definitely help me in a very long term and lot more. I am very grateful for this opportunity. When I first received an email saying I was selected, I was screaming and hugging my parent because I was extremely happy. At that time, I felt acceptable and capable of achieving thing in life. So Thank You once again.

APIASF/Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship


Michelle Chang
Hometown: Rosemead, California
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
Major: Biology

Education is one of my highly held values because my refugee parents never had a chance to pursue education due to the Vietnam War. At a young age, I learned how education promotes social mobility from watching how hard my parents worked in order to support our family of seven. As a low-income, first-generation student, my greatest accomplishment and challenge in life is being the first in my family to attend college. Though I struggled navigating and retaining myself in higher education, I continue to persevere in receiving an education despite financial and personal setbacks along my journey.

I plan to become a physician-scientist who works with under-resourced communities. I view health as a human right, not a privilege. Witnessing the preventable health complications that my immigrant, refugee family developed, such as hypertension and diabetes, I committed myself to the field of medicine and public health since high school. After losing both my grandparents due to the lack of cultural understanding from the health professionals, I acknowledge the importance of having culturally sensitive health professionals. Furthermore, my passion for research developed from my experiences working with Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum in creating the first cancer health briefs that disaggregated Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders data for 21 states with the highest Asian and Pacific Islander populations.

Thank you Coca-Cola Foundation for supporting me in pursuing my educational dreams and journey to medicine. This scholarship alleviates my financial burdens of attending university and gives me the opportunity to commit more time serving immigrant and disadvantaged communities through service, research, and education.

I am looking forward to continuing my education at University of California Berkeley this fall after having been away for two years. I am majoring in Public Health and Integrative Biology because I am interested in the intersections of human and environmental health and how one affects the other. Pursuing my passions would have been more difficult without the support from Coca-Cola Foundation. Once again, I am very grateful and blessed to be a Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar!

APIASF/Cox Enterprises Scholarship


Oanh Nguyen
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
Major: Neuroscience and Neurobiology

My name is Oanh Nguyen. As a first generation college student, first high school graduate, and first generation immigrant, it has been a life changing journey. At the age of four months, I emigrated from Vietnam with my parents to the United States. We had arrived in America with about $200 and nothing else, but the clothes on our backs. Even at a young age, I understood that my parents worked extensive hours through long nights to be able to provide me with a roof over my head and a comfortable life. Therefore, I am truly grateful for my parents who have always supported me and have constantly been by my side.

In the fall of 2017, I will be attending the University of Texas at Austin as a neuroscience major and could be happier to pursue my career as an emergency physician. I would like to thank the Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Foundation and the Cox Enterprises Scholarship Foundation for awarding me with $2,500. This financial support will allow me to study with a better financial wellbeing as I start college in the fall.

APIASF/FedEx Scholarship


Natasha Reberungun Loochaz
Hometown: Yap, Micronesia
Institution: Canisius College
Major: Mathematics

Coming from a poor family, I have learned to be more appreciative of the help I get. This scholarship may seem like a small help to some, but to me, it is life changing. It is the key that has unlocked the door to a countless amount of opportunities that wouldn't have been possible for me if it wasn't for this scholarship. My family faces many financial struggles because both my parents are self-employed. Our only source of income is from a small store which we own in the village. Although we are struggling, my parents want me to have the best education possible. They have made an infinite amount of sacrifices just so I can have a better future. Every day I put my best effort into my academic studies because I do not want all their hard work to go to waste. Everything I do, I do in hopes that one day I would be able to give back to my parents for all they have done for me. Because I know how hard my parents have struggled to support our family, financially, I am determined to succeed so all their hard work and sacrifices would have been worth it.

When I go to college, I want to major in mathematics. I have always been passionate about math. I haven't decided what career I will have, but I am not worried because mathematics can be applied to almost every situation. My plan is to major in mathematics, then to come back to Yap to help my island. When I get my Master's Degree in mathematics, it will be around the time that the Compact of Free Association comes to an end. I am planning to get a job that will allow me to help the government in areas such as budgeting and finances. Yap is my home, and it is one of the many factors that has shaped my life into what it is today. Yap has taught me that even the smallest things can make a huge difference. It has always been a goal of mine to help give back to my island. Everything I do, I do it for my family and my home island.

Words cannot even begin to express how grateful my family and I are for this scholarship. It has made it possible for me to pursue a higher education in hopes that it will help me achieve my goals. I want to thank the scholarship donors for their generosity because if it were not for them then it would be impossible for me to achieve my goals.

APIASF/Frances Sonn Nam Memorial Scholarship


Chloe Qi Pan
Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: International Relations

As a child, I learned about magic from dim sum. Each day after twelve hours of work, my mom would bring home her victorious spoils: fresh leftovers from the day, nicely packaged into takeout boxes, occasionally topped off with an extra almond cookie as treat. We'd sit around our dining table with its mismatched chairs and broken lights, and the room would be awash in laughter and warmth. My mother showed me the power of resilience and the importance of understanding "existence as resistance" - to thrive in a world where the odds aren't always stacked in your favor. I grew up in a low-income, first-generation immigrant household that was rampant with domestic violence and drug abuse. My mother raised me and my younger brother in what was virtually a single-parent household. Her strength taught me the importance of being unapologetic about my narrative. This has strongly influenced my passion for a career in public service in order to challenge the systemic barriers that exist for historically marginalized communities.

As a high schooler, I became involved with then-President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. This ignited my interest in policy innovation through a framework of social justice and I became involved with local restorative justice efforts. During this time, I also interned at the Michigan 48th District Court and the Office of the Township Supervisor. I eventually graduated high school after four years of leadership in our student government, policy debate team, and law club.

I'm currently a rising senior at UCLA pursuing a double major in International Development and Asian American Studies. Having the opportunity to have an education in ethnic studies has been pivotal to my understanding of movement-building rooted in solidarity and love. In the last three years, I've served on our inaugural Student Advisory Board to the Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; successfully advocated for the creation of UCLA's first Public Service Living Learning Community as a Resident Assistant; and was most recently elected to serve as Student Body External Vice President.

I've also spent my last three summers working in community advocacy-related efforts in Washington, D.C; first as the youngest intern at the White House Initiative on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, later as an OCA Summer Scholar at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and now as an intern for the House Judiciary Committee. None of these opportunities would have been possible without the support of my communities and the generations of activists who came before me to pave the way for women of color.

It truly takes a village, and I'm so grateful for the support of programs like the APIASF/Frances Sonn Nam Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is especially meaningful because of how much public service has shaped my life thus far, and I hope to give back one day through pursuing a law career at the nexus of civil rights advocacy and policy reform.

APIASF/Hong Kong Scholarship


Mia Dao Brozovich
Hometown: Carson City, Nevada
Institution: University of Nevada - Reno
Major: Business

Hello my name is Mia Dao Brozovich and I am from Carson City, Nevada. This upcoming fall of 2017, I will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno a part of the business major. I am honored to be selected as a 2017 APIASF Scholar. Throughout my 18 years of living, I have gone through many hardships and challenges. At 4 days old, I was rushed to the Sunrise Hospital where I had to undergo a heart surgery that led the doctors to the youngest heart surgery conducted and I only had a 25 % chance of living. 11 months later, I was an older sister to my younger sister named Kaeli. Growing up together has always been fortunate because I always had a friend to help me through my hardships. This year marks 13 years since I have had contact with my biological dad and his family. I will always remember the times I got verbally and physically abused. Now at 18 years old, I am fortunate and more than glad that this happened to me because I would not be who I am today. I am thankful that I spent every day, every hour and every minute with my mother's side of the family because they are the one to help me strive for my success and are the people I am glad to call family. I was raised by my grandparents, Uncle and Aunt this past year and I could not have been more thankful for them. I am thankful that they stood by my side everyday pushing me towards when I needed it to be where I am today.

I am onto my next adventure to pursue my dreams of becoming and International Business Marketer. I have always been raised to believe in culture and business. This profession is believed to be mine. I am currently trilingual speaking fluent Vietnamese and English while being an advanced student in Spanish. One day I want to be able to be a part of a huge corporation in the federal government or be a part of an organization where I can serve people by giving back while being passionate of being a translator. Being in leadership and community service positions has and will always been my passion and I want to take it further by socializing and speaking for what I love. I want to travel the world and go through many experiences while loving the job i pursue in.

As an Asian and Pacific Islander, education and culture is important to me because it is a privilege to have and should not be taken for granted. Being raised in today's society, I have learned that we are stereotyped to do certain jobs or being labeled but as we all know it is not true. I have been raised through culture and I have learned that culture becomes a huge part of you whether you speak another language or not and it can be lost within you if you don't practice and appreciate it. I have learned that education is a privilege not given and we can do anything if we do it with 110% effort. Together we can stand as a bullet and prove these people wrong. I have been stereotyped to only grow up to do nails because my family does it and I am Vietnamese. I am a proud Vietnamese and have grown up to have what I want because of that profession but will not let this stereotype stop me from being successful. At school, I am an involved student in almost every extracurricular activity holding an officer position. As you can see, I have stood with success the past 4 years as an Asian Pacific Islander student and everyone is capable of doing what they want if they believe in success, faith, and culture.

APIASF/Hope Foundation Scholarship


Jennifer Loo
Hometown: New York, New York
Institution: Georgetown University
Major: Public Policy

Hi! My name is Jennifer Loo and I'm from New York City, NY. I am a community organizer and a theatre and film artist. I come from a low-income Chinese immigrant family that constantly inspires me to take initiative and make the world a better place. My mother and father have overcome immense adversity to be in America, and have taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I'm so grateful for them, as well as the incredible mentors I've been lucky to have in my high school career.

I became interested in local activism while interning at the W.O.W. Project, a discussion space for NYC's Chinatown residents to talk about the future of the neighborhood. Here, I had the opportunity to connect with my community members about their biggest concerns—most notably, displacement from gentrification. I learned about the rising price of rents and groceries, the pain of families forced to move away, and the continued efforts of local organizations to stop this. Though I witnessed their pain, I also witnessed their strength in how they supported each other and protested awful circumstances. The resilience of NYC's Chinatown, and immigrant communities all across the country, will never fail to amaze and inspire me.

I'm beyond grateful to the APIASF/Bank of Hope Scholars program for helping me achieve my college dreams. As I head off to college, I will not forget the community that first inspired me to act. Urban gentrification is not unique to New York City; it is an issue that is displacing families' worldwide, worsening income inequality and race and class tensions. At Georgetown University in the fall, I hope to gain the policy knowledge and analytical tools to be able to come back and address those concerns, both locally and worldwide.

APIASF/Minnesota Community Scholarship


Christina Vo
Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota
Institution: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Major: Kinesiology

My name is Christina Vo and I am a second-year student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I have always had a passion to be in the medical field, so I am currently pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Medical Laboratory Science in hopes of going to medical school and becoming a physician. It has been my dream to be a pediatrician so I can help with the health care of children. I want to work with children because I am an only child, but I have a very large extended family. From my family background, I have always felt a sense of protecting and caring for my cousins any way I can.

An adversity I had to overcome was figuring out how I would pay for my education. Education is something that my family and I will always value because education is a luxury. My parents immigrated from Vietnam for better opportunities for their family, so they never got the luxury of education. For this reason, I will never take my higher education for granted.

The University of Minnesota Twin- Cities is a very diverse institution, so I joined many student organizations such as the Asian Student Union, Pre- Med AMSA, and the Minnesota Student Association. It was also an honor to serve as a Senator in the University Senate as a first-year student.

Giving back to my community has always been a priority of mine. I was a Mayo Clinic Young Volunteer throughout my four years of high school. This past year, I was able to volunteer with Feed My Starving Children, and I will be volunteering my time this summer at the Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. In the future, I hope to open a free clinic in Rochester as a way of giving back to my hometown community. When I become a physician, I hope to open this free clinic to help anyone who is need of health care. Whether it be the flu or someone who does not have health insurance I want to help provide as much as I can.

I want to thank APIASF/ Minnesota Community Scholarship for helping me with my higher education journey with this scholarship. Financial aid has always been an ongoing adversity my family and I are trying to overcome, so my family and I are beyond grateful for the APIASF/ Minnesota Community Scholarship. When my family and I found out that I was a recipient of the APIASF/ Minnesota Community Scholarship we were thankful and appreciative. It is important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because we deserve the equality, successes, and opportunities that higher education provides. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students need a chance to prove that we are just as smart, diligent, and brave as anyone else. We should be proud of our culture and how our families have raised us to be. Family income, immigration status, or anything in general should not get in the way from a student and their education.

APIASF/MUFG Union Bank Scholarship


TerrillJames Williams
Hometown: Chula Vista, California
Institution: University of California, San Diego
Major: Education

Higher education is important to me because my mother was very influential in instilling the value of education in me; due to opportunities for higher education not being made available to her in Hawai'i because she is a Kanaka Maoli woman, she enlisted in the United States navy. Because of her being unable to receive her education, she made sure that I had her support in my educational journey. This academic school year was a great mixture of financial instability because of increasing costs of tuition and students' fees, my mother's separation and divorce, and rapidly changing housing situations which made it much more challenging to fully focus on my academics because of working multiple jobs and commuting long distances all the while being a full-time student.

I will be entering into my senior year at the University of California, San Diego as an Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies double-major, predominantly focusing on law and human resources, and minoring in Education Studies. In the context of the University of California, San Diego, there is a large disparity in the demographics of Pacific Islander students present at the University where there are less than sixty self-identified Pacific Islander students out of a 33,300+ student population.

I would like to thank APIASF/MUFG Union Bank Scholarship for this opportunity as it will help me in continuing to be academically successful. As a first generation Pacific Islander student, this scholarship is truly critical as it helps to make higher education a reality for students of Pacific Island descent. Once I complete my undergraduate education, I plan to pursue graduate school and will be looking into the following universities as potential avenues: University of California, Irvine (UCI), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California, Berkeley (UCB), University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UHM), and the University of Hawai'i at Hilo (UHH).

APIASF/NBC Universal Scholarship


Zoe Kintaro
Hometown: Koror, Palau
Institution: University of Guam
Major: Communications

My name is Zoe Kintaro, and I come from a small island in the Pacific, called the Republic of Palau. Growing up, my parents constantly emphasized the importance of education and that education in itself is the key to succeeding in life. My mother always stressed how there is no time to take breaks from school, because anything can happen to interrupt or put a stop to your educational career. I grew up with both parents around, supporting me every step of the way in my educational journey, instilling values in me from a very young age. In the summer of 2015, my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and was set to leave to Hawaii for a medical referral. My father took my place as my mother's escort and care taker, and both of my parents insisted I stay home, watch over my sisters and continue the school year at my college. Being a full time student while working part time and taking care of my sisters was not as smooth as I had expected it to be. Despite the hardship and heartbreak that that year had brought my family, I came out of it stronger, and so much more motivated to take charge of my life.

I am aiming to enter into a career that can enable me to become a voice for my community and its members. I want to be able to help not only the little people, but everyone in my community have their voices and stories be heard. Pursuing a higher education is very important because I will provide me with the means to reach my career goals. With the help of this scholarship, I am sure that my first year at a university will be much smoother and that I will be one step closer to achieving my goals. Thank you so much to APIASF and NBC Universal for this opportunity and for supporting my educational journey.

APIASF/NFTA-USA Giving Circle Scholarship


David L. Alejandrino
Hometown: Torrance, California
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: Mathematics

I grew up in a low-income family of six that lives in a two-bedroom apartment. My dad is a drafter at an architectural firm, whereas my mom is a homemaker. The financial struggle created by my family's circumstances is felt on a daily basis. However, by sharing my past and explaining the roots of my values, I have been able to connect with others on an entirely new level. What I had believed to be a challenge formed by socio-economic difference was merely a obstacle I had created in my mind. Overcoming this mental obstacle has allowed me to act with more compassion, become a better leader, and view things from different perspectives.

I am a current senior in high school, and as a current senior, I am frequently asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" When I was younger, I often found myself uncomfortable with the fact that I did not know how to answer this question. Overtime, I've come to realize that it's okay to not know exactly what it is I want to do. What I do know, however, is that I can utilize the tools given to me on my journey to help reach my destination. I can seek support from peers, receive guidance from mentors, and maintain the motivation to keep learning, doing, and inspiring. Whatever career I may end up in, it is my utmost desire to be a leader and create an uplifting environment in which my fellow employees not only feel appreciated and valued, but also carry a sense of purpose in what they are doing to help better society. My aspiration is to continue growing both personally and intellectually, while also remaining passionate in my profession.

In addition to my future profession, my hope for the future is to focus on a specific group of kids-- the KIWIN'S members of a particular school-- and to help them build character. I am currently the President of my school's KIWIN'S, and it truly warms my heart to see the members falling in love with serving others wholeheartedly. I wish to take this role to an even greater extent by becoming a KIWIN'S advisor one day. Through my mentorship, I would want the kids I work with year after year to become leaders on a quest for service and for spreading the ideals of compassion and team-building. I aim to leave a broader impact on the community by deeply impacting the younger generations, who will in turn continue to have a positive effect on the people they come across in life.

As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I look forward to living independently and establishing new relationships with my classmates, professors, and counselors. Most of all, I am eager to grow as person. Beginning in the fall, I plan to pursue an education in applied math. Throughout my life, I have excelled in math and I cannot imagine myself following any other field of study. I would like to take the time to explore different mathematical perspectives while in college and absorb as much information as I can so that I may be able to improve upon my own skills and discover how I can contribute to society.

I was dancing with my school's Hip Hop Club when I received the email notification that I had won the scholarship. I was moved with a burst of emotion as I went to hug the friends that were around me at the time. Later, I came home and told my family and they were very proud of what I had accomplished. I believe it's crucial for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because with each and every student that stops his/her education, the world is losing the next Albert Einstein; it's losing the potential to cure cancer, or to create the next ground-breaking invention. Every student has a new perspective to offer, and has the capacity to change the world. In my community, education is the key to helping young students widen their perspectives and further our society in the years to come.

It is an incredible honor to be receiving the APIASF/NFTA-USA Giving Circle Scholarship. I would like to personally thank those who took the time and consideration in selecting me to receive this scholarship. This investment in my education will go towards furthering my college experience, possibly going towards a new laptop that I can use in the classroom and any textbooks that I may need. Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

APIASF/Southern California Edison STEM Scholarship


Nhi Khanh Ly
Hometown: Garden Grove, California
Institution: University of California, Irvine
Major: Engineering

Academic Decathlon is definitive of my high school career. I learned how to time manage between studying for my AP courses, getting involved in other extracurricular activities, and learning the ten subjects of Academic Decathlon. I polished my public speaking skills until stage fright was not even a part of my vocabulary, and even achieved second place at the Academic Decathlon competition. Through this club, I learned how to be a leader- to delegate the workload to other board members, to take initiative with new ideas, and to resolve issue calmly and effectively.

Utilizing my experience in Academic Decathlon, I want to be an engineer leader and take charge of my own projects. Instead of working at a day to day normal desk job, I want to lead a team of fellow civil engineers to create grand structures that strike awe in others. I want to display to others the art that exists beyond the canvas- of the mathematical beauty and grace of each bridge and building. But before I can even hope to achieve any of that, I must go to college. Therefore, I am honored and very appreciative to APIASF/Southern California Edison STEM Scholarship for the opportunity to take that first step towards my goal.

APIASF/TAAP (A Toyota Giving Circle) Scholarship


Roy Kwon
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Major: Biochemistry

My name is Roy Kwon and I am the valedictorian of Orthopedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School. I will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, and will be majoring in biomedical engineering to pursue a path in cardiology as a cardiac surgeon to alleviate the pain that heart diseases bring to both the patients and their loved ones.

I came to America from Korea when I was twelve, so it was hard for me to overcome the language barrier. I was still speaking Korean at home and didn't have other opportunities to use English enough for me to familiarize myself with it. Classes such as English and history, where I was forced to read, write and speak English, were a struggle for me. I was falling behind in many social science and English classes, losing confidence not only in those classes, but also in other places that required me to apply knowledge of the language. However, I slowly but steadily got used to the terms in English and gained knowledge about English sentence structures through word problems in math. Eventually, the sentences did not seem as threatening as they had always been, and I was able to replicate some of the sentence structures that I had seen in books. The point where the language sparked in me did not come until tenth grade summer when I attended a summer college math program at Stanford, where I chose to take additional English programs in professional development periods. Overcoming the language barrier ignited a passion in me to better myself as a writer and a thinker. Once I became as fluent as everyone else, I no longer had any excuse to fall behind.

Free from the language barrier, I started to actively participate in contributing to my community. Instead of waiting for opportunities, I started making my own: assuming leadership roles, tutoring underclassmen, and founding clubs that reflected my values. With the level of academic rigor in the summer program fueling me throughout junior year, each time I encountered a challenge or thought that I should settle, I remembered how my friends from Stanford never ceased to better themselves as individuals and learners and tried to mimic their behavior. Even though we all live in different countries, we developed strong bonds, still keep in touch and share stories that make us reflect on our experiences. Today, learning any new challenging material reminds me of the summer program and motivates me to overcome the challenge while keeping a humble attitude.

About a month ago, I was notified that I was admitted to MIT. Words cannot describe how much love and support my loved ones including family, friends and teachers provided for me to get into such a prestigious school. Coming from a low-income background, it also worried me that the cost of attendance for MIT is over 68,000 dollars. So I thank you, TAAP, for giving me such generous scholarship to help me in my path to a career field that I chose influenced by witnessing first-hand what patients with heart diseases had to suffer. I believe that with this scholarship, I will be able to attend MIT without worrying about financial hardships and focus on my academics so that I can become a successful person and provide opportunities like this scholarship to other students who need financial assistance just as much as I did.

APIASF/Target Foundation Scholarship


Tha Leh
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Institution: Metropolitan State University
Major: Social Work

My name is Tha Leh and I am originally from Thailand refugee camp in Southeast Asia, but had to flee with my family to America to be relocated when I was 16 years old. Having a chance to go to college and having the freedom to do what I wanted is the biggest change I have faced in my life because I am the first person in my family to graduate from college and attend university. I never thought I would get to go to college back home. College was something that I never dreamed of when I lived in refugee camp. Even though I was able to go to school in refugee camp, there was not enough teachers, school supplies, and class rooms. Things changed when my family found out we were coming to the United States.

I have faced many challenges as a refugee and immigrant to the United States. One of the biggest challenges I have faced I don't get enough support and encouragement from my parents and family.

My career goal is to get a job in human survives related files to help people. I want to work in these files because I want to help people and also because I believe my ability to understand both the Karanni and English culture will help to close the gap in human survives disparities here in the U.S. and aboard.

I am delighted to have received the APIASF/Target Foundation Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic school year. I sincerely want to thank you for your support. As a refugee from Thailand, my family has little financial resources. Your help means a lot to me and my family appreciate your help. Your help will help me to complete my long-term personal, educational and career goals. I plan to major in Human Survives and get a job after I graduate from Metropolitan State University to help people in the community. I will help my community after I have completed my education by interpreting for them and help them to read a letter from mail. Because in my community there are many people that don't know how to speak English and they need help. Even when they go to the hospital or clinic there isn't enough interpreter for them. So if I work in the human survives, I will be ready to help them anytime. Again thank you very much for your help and your help made me to confident and ready to go to college.

I think it is important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because education is a life changing opportunity.

Lastly, thank you again for your support.

APIASF/Toyota Scholarship


Steven Vinh Luong
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Institution: University of California - San Diego
Major: Biochemistry

I have grown up in Lincoln Heights in East Los Angeles. I am the youngest of eight and the only male child. I live in a small, cluttered bedroom shared with two of my sisters and work on a small desk located not too far from my noisy living room. The clamor of my family members conversing on the phone and the noise from the television set is always present during my studying time. Despite these challenges, I have succeeded at becoming a top ranked student at my school and have learned to never take my education for granted. Due to my parent's uneducated background, I took charge of my education and sought out the best possible path by becoming part of the magnet system. Being in a magnet environment has enabled me to take advantage of educational opportunities such as Science Bowl and Science Olympiad. My participation in these competitions developed my passion and desire to pursue a career in the field of science.

With this being said, I aspire to become a physician with a major in biochemistry. My ultimate goals are to return to my own community, provide healthcare to those in need of medical attention and help communities live a long, healthy, and prosperous life. I believe that with a higher degree of education and expansive knowledge base in the field of medicine, I will be able to provide health care many communities are lacking in. I see education as a path that will allow me to overcome the struggles my parents have faced, aid my parents in the future, make new connections, and explore the world.

Not only do I have an aspiration of helping those in need medically speaking, but I wish to continue the volunteer work that I have previously done at my public library: educating and tutoring elementary and middle school students in their school work. I desperately yearn younger students from impoverished communities to take advantage of educational opportunities. With this being said, I hope to teach a vast majority of students of how education is the single most important aspect in life and hope they set education as their highest priority. I aspire to become a mentor for these students because I not only want to assist them in their learning, but also inspire them to not let their disadvantaged background define who they are or who they will become. Offering this kind of help will allow these students to develop the skills to think for themselves and in turn hopefully one day they too will give back to their community.

Being awarded the APIASF/Toyota Scholarship is truly an honor. This scholarship will allow me to advance my educational journey and help me fulfill my aspiration of becoming a physician. With this scholarship, I have the opportunity to help those in need and help younger generation of students become motivated and inspired to learn in the future. Thank you for selecting me for the APIASF/Toyota Scholarship!

APIASF/United Health Foundation Scholarship


Adrian Gilhang
Hometown: Brea, California
Institution: Cyprus College
Major: Nursing

My life completely changed when I moved from the Philippines to the United States when I was ten. Knowing little English and having to adapt to a new culture I never knew before, I had a difficult time adjusting my life during the first year. I developed more friendships and relationships as I grew older in junior high school. I played all different types of sport that are available to my reach including basketball, baseball, volleyball, football, and tennis. I was a student-scholar and the captain of the tennis team in high school and also won the city baseball league. I was part of many clubs in high school such as Red Cross, California Scholars Foundation, Ecology, Asian Pacific Islander Club, Anime Club, and Sports Club. I was also working part-time at a local pizza place in order to help pay for my school necessities instead of asking from my parents. I was ecstatic to have graduated in high honors, but my family moved to another state after I received my diploma.

During the first year of my college, I lived with one of my grandparents. Since my closest family moved to Texas, I had to adapt once again living by myself as an adult. I looked forward to developing more friendships in college. I've decided to attend Cypress College because of my financial situation. I wasn't able to afford to attend the University I've dreamed of going. So I worked two jobs in order to pay some bills. I worked at the school Transfer Center and a fast food chain. At first, I declared my major as Business, but I realized in myself that I've always wanted to help others around me just like my parents took care of me. I wouldn't be able to be who I am now if it wasn't for them. I want to repay them back by finishing a higher education and giving hand to others who are in need.

I, Adrian Gilhang, would like to personally say thank you to the United Health Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship surprised me in an amazing way. I was having a stressful day because of studying for finals. I looked at my email and read the award information then happiness burst in me and relieved all my stress as well as my family. Because of this, I was able to do well on my finals. This will also help me with my financial expenses in the future. I plan to volunteer my time with Red Cross and Homeless Helping Programs as well. Lastly, it's important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because it can change the community to a better place. We can invent new things, reach out to those in need, and open closed doors of opportunities to those who aren't able to open it. It doesn't matter what ethnicity you are, education is a powerful tool that can shape our communities for the better.

APIASF/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship


Andrew Tissera
Hometown: Blandon, Pennsylvania
Institution: Pace University
Major: Business

Prioritizing family is a quality that my mother exemplified all throughout my childhood, and I have come to identify closely with this trait. My maternal family has been and continues to be a major driving force in my growth as a person. With the knowledge that my mother and her siblings immigrated to this country in order to create better lives, I find inspiration to achieve my fullest potential. I grew up watching a family of strong-minded colored women work tirelessly to establish stability for themselves in times of systemic misogyny and racial oppression. They taught me true resilience; what it means to persevere even at times when the world seems to be working against you. All of these aspects only made hardship more apparent in my family's life. I witnessed the ongoing financial struggle that everyone in my family works to overcome. Like many immigrant families, my relatives stressed education as a means of survival in a rapidly advancing world. "You don't want to end up working manual labor like us..." was a common narrative that my aunts used to emphasize their point.

Aside from this, my upbringing ingrained in me the value of hard work and dedication. It was also something with which I did not completely agree because of the work ethic they epitomized. By applying that mentality to my life, I have been able to balance academics, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job. Regardless of their insistent dismissal of their accomplishments, I am humbled by the countless sacrifices my family has made so that I have the chance to pursue a better life. While American ideals were prominent at home, my heritage was never undermined. As I am grateful to my family for pushing me to create pathways and solutions, I am endlessly thankful to the APIASF/ Wells Fargo Scholarship. This scholarship will enable me to further myself not only as a student, but as an Asian-Pacific American. In a world that is plagued with inequality and injustice, I am honored to represent a minority with the opportunity you've made available to me. Thank you, once again.

The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship


Ke'olani Kahale
Hometown: Kailua, Hawaii
Institution: Chapman University
Major: Biological Sciences

I would like to immediately start off by saying how utterly thankful I am to the APIASF/The Walt Disney Company Scholarship.

My name is Ke'olani Kahale. I am classified as an independent student, meaning that preparing for college was exceptionally difficult for me financially. Being one of four children under my grandparents' legal guardianship was a struggle and forced my grandmother to put her career on hold to care for us, while my grandfather spent his days hard at work to ensure we had enough to live comfortably. Their dedicated mentalities have created such an impact on my life, and I aim always to make them proud. Throughout my time in high school, under gracious financial aid, I was able to focus on my academics and challenge myself in and out of the classroom. This year I have graduated with an academic honors diploma and several letters of recognition that I am proud to have earned. I am also an active member of my community and always strive to remain heavily involved in extracurriculars through being a part of clubs and volunteering.

Not wanting to burden my grandparents with any additional costs, I took on three jobs while I was in high school so that I could care for any personal costs and begin to save for my future college education. This fall, I will be attending Chapman University and major in biological sciences. I intend on applying to veterinary school after my undergraduate studies. To accomplish this goal, I will have to work diligently. This scholarship serves as a strong sense of foundation for me and my goals because it motivates me to pursue my studying without having to worry about going into debt. I have been interested in working with animals clinically for as long as I can remember. Throughout my childhood, my family has encouraged me by fostering my love for animals, and through more recent research experiences, I have been able to strengthen this aspiration further.

Coming from a Native Hawaiian background, I would also like to work on giving back to my community. I would like to be able to utilize the knowledge that I learn about working with wildlife not only to educate but also to take care of my home's endemic species like the endangered monk seal, etc. Work like this is essential to ensure that these factors in our community are around for generations to come. Finally, I believe that it is extremely important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education so that they may create better options for themselves and also experience critical exposure; they can share their unique cultures and diversity and celebrate its integration amongst the majority in the United States.

My family and I cannot thank you enough for granting me with this amazing scholarship. I hope to convey my appreciation through success in and out of school, so that I may represent not only Pacific Islanders but also this scholarship organization well. Mahalo.

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