2011 APIASF Scholar Profiles

photo Shirirang Ajvalia
APIASF / USA Funds Scholar
Hometown: West Orange, NJ
High School: Seton Hall Preparatory
College: Rutgers University
Major: Biology

Anticipation. Concern. Anxiety. Excitement. These are a few words that have described my senior year in looking forward to the college experience. Being a part of the first generation of my family to be born in America, everyone has always stressed the importance of college and getting a good education. Since my parents were immigrants from India I have visited their homeland many times and have seen the poor health and sanitary conditions of rural areas. As such, with the encouragement from my family, I aspire to one day become a Pediatrician in hopes of helping the underprivileged children of the world. Back to my emotions during senior year: I not only was excited in taking the next step toward reaching my goal but at the same time nervous about how my family and I would be able to afford higher education. I remember when my counselor first advised me to apply for the APIASF Scholarship. Despite my doubts about receiving a nationally esteemed award, I wrote the required essays with optimism. This school year began with concern and anxiety but I am happy to say that with the help of APIASF I will be attending Rutgers University this fall and am majoring in Biology for Pre-Med. I would like to thank APIASF for awarding me the USA Funds Scholarship and helping me ease the financial burden of going to college.

photo Ashley Chand
APIASF / Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Portland, OR
High School: De La Salle North Catholic
College: Portland State University
Major: Education

Being an award recipient from the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund has given me more motivation and hope to succeed as a Pacific Islander. My family was very proud to see me being noticed as a winner, it's a huge honor in my home, because I will be the first in my family to leave home, and go to college. I will be attending a four-year university in Oregon. I will be majoring in Political Science, and minor in public health. I want to work toward being an immigrations attorney. I want to be able to assistant and educate people who are not familiar with American laws a way to start and build their lives here in America. My family came here from the Fiji Islands so I can understand how hard it is to start in the United States coming from a different country. I also have a passion for educating the youth, so I would like to work with them as a way to giving back to the community when I receive my education. I am a very hard working student in school. I always push myself to get the highest grade I can get in all my classes. I want to be able to make a voice for myself and family in college as a young ambitious striving woman. I want to gain independence in college being away from home. Asian and Pacific Islander students barely get the recognition as a race; we have a lot of different back grounds and cultures to offer in the higher institutions as leaders.

photo Shong Yang
APIASF / Sodexo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: St. Paul, MN
High School: Harding High School
College: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Major: Computer Engineering

As I plan on continuing my education at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, I plan on majoring in computer engineering. Throughout my college years, I hope to gain more knowledge in the IT industry. Within four years, I hope to receive my bachelor's degree to pursue my lifelong career. Once I graduate from college, I plan on becoming a computer engineer at a professional business. When I received my award letter from Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, I was full of happiness. My heart broke out into a cry of happiness. My parents wouldn't believe me until I showed them proof. I never expected that they were going to be happier than I was. At my high school, I was announced an award winner on our senior honor day. I couldn't feel more proud than I had at that moment. Not only should Asian and Pacific Islander American students pursue higher education, everyone should aim for higher education. As I always say, "education is the answer to everything." With lots of education, one will go further and be more successful in life. With little or no education one will have less success and struggle for a better future. I just want to take this time to thank all the donors of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. Without your generosity, Asian and Pacific Islander American recipients would have less of a chance to continue our education. Thank you for all your support.

photo Marisch Perera
APIASF / AT&T Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Staten Island, NY
High School: CSI High School for International Studies
College: Pace University
Major: Communications

As a first generation South-Asian American, I learned that education is the foundation of a bright and successful future. Knowing that, I strive to accomplish all my educational goals, to live above the influence, and to give back to my community. I will be attending Pace University in Manhattan this fall. As an undergraduate, I will be majoring in Communication Studies. I am interested in learning about mass media and how I can incorporate fields of communications studies and apply them to law, politics, and government, while being qualified for entry-level positions in broadcasting and public relations. In college, I plan to play an active room in my school and local community. As an Asian and Pacific Islander American student, it is important for me to take control of my education and my life. I will not sit back and expect everything to work out, because the responsibility for acquiring the education I seek rests ultimately on myself. When I found out I was selected as a recipient of the APIASF/AT&T Foundation Scholarship, I never felt so proud of all I have accomplished. This scholarship showed me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and it encouraged me to challenge myself to make a difference. Ultimately, the award served as an opportunity for me to go out and achieve my best.

photo Keali'I Ka'aikala
APIASF / Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Kahului, HI
High School: Kamehameha Schools Maui
College: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Major: Horticltural Science

Showing my family and friends that my future goals means something to people that care, and that they're people that are willing to give me a chance to pursue my future career plans by giving me a scholarship such as this. It is important that Asian Pacific Islander students pursue higher education to help make a difference in the world and community. Receiving higher education shows that we are able to compete for important jobs in the community. Education is very important to me because I personally know people who only went to get their high school diploma and the community impact they did wasn't as tremendous as people who got their Bachelor's, Master's, and Associate's degrees. As a Hawai’ian and coming from a background with parents doing drugs, I realize I can make a difference once I set my mind to it. I plan on going through college, meeting new friends and finish my major in Agriculture and Hawai’ian Studies. Using these majors and gaining new experiences as a journey off into the real world, I will become something greater than my parents. My future career goal is to start farming agriculture back on my home island on Maui, teaching others the importance of Hawai’ian agriculture and how it relates to Hawai’ians and the cultural importance.

photo Shao Cong Mo
APIASF / UnitedHealthcare Scholar
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
High School: Abraham Lincoln High School
College: University of California, San Diego
Major: Computer Science

Being a Chinese immigrant was not something I appreciated when I first came to the United States. Knowing only the 26 letters when I stepped onto this land, I could not imagine how my future is going to be. Fortunately, three years ago, my neighbor gave me a chance to apply for a youth scholarship program. There, hope started to shine its light on me. Through the scholarship program, I joined a youth program called Youth for Single Room Occupancy (YSRO). In YSRO, I learned about the history of Chinese Americans and the importance of being active in my community. One of YSRO's projects was to teach Chinese seniors how to use computers. As a youth teacher, I feel that computers are not very easy for seniors to learn and get helpful information. Thus, I was delighted that I was admitted as an incoming freshman majoring in computer science in University of California, San Diego because I want to become software engineer and make computer easier for all ages to learn. Nonetheless, financial burden makes my goal seem unapproachable. My family's low income level will not be able to support my education fully, so I have to rely heavily on loans. This scholarship supports my education and eases my family's financial burden. Meanwhile, my parents and YSRO's supervisor are so proud seeing that I am one step closer to my goal.

photo Joanna Huang
APIASF / Frances Sonn Nam Memorial Scholar
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
High School: Lowell High School
College: University of California, San Diego
Major: Cognitive Science

Finding out that I was a recipient of the Asian & Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund left me in disbelief because I have never received a scholarship before. I am truly honored and thankful for the generosity of APIASF/Frances Sonn Nam Memorial because with the financial assistance this scholarship will provide, I will be able to fulfill my dream of being the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. I am currently attending the University of California, San Diego as a Cognitive Science Major with a minor in Public Service. One of my major goals is to successfully create a Critical Asian American Studies Minor here at UCSD. I realized that it is completely unacceptable for an institution that has an over 40% "Asian" student population to not offer a concentration of courses to inform APIA students about where they came from, their histories and their APIA identities. My career plans for the immediate future is to pursue graduate school in public policy. Ultimately, my all-time goal in life is to start a non-profit organization to serve communities in need such as low-income, underrepresented, under-served, communities of color. I believe that it is important for APIA students to pursue higher education because to me, education opens doors and opportunities for self-betterment and empowerment. APIA students have historically faced many structural barriers to access these institutions of higher education but, if they are able to overcome systems that were meant to exclude them, the process of learning about APIA history and self-identity as well as student empowerment as college students will help them foster spaces of community, take control of their educational experiences, define the process and outcomes of their education and will then hopefully make an impact for future APIA generations.

photo Antoronnie Manglona
APIASF / Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Columbus, OH
High School: Bishop Hartley High School
College: Miami University
Major: Medicine

When I was younger, I used to be embarrassed of being a Chamorro because I believed many of the Chamorro people were poor, uneducated, and overall insignificant. However, I came to a point that I realized that Chamorros are truly beautiful people. They cherish their culture, embracing anyone and everyone. They love life. However, the people in my community (Rota, Marianas Islands) don't experience the breadth of knowledge that lies ahead of them. I want to go back to Rota and advocate the importance of higher education. I don't want the people to lose their roots but to embrace it, not only loving life but also living life. I plan to make a name for myself in Medicine. I am going to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Before I can go back to the Marianas Islands, I want to establish myself as an OB/GYN. Once again I thank ASPIASF/Coca Cola Foundation for giving me some financial assistance to reach my dreams. I am humbled and honored to have the title APIASF Scholar.

photo Andrew May
APIASF / Thai Alliance in America Scholar
Hometown: Midwest City, OK
High School: Midwest City High School
College: University of Oklahoma
Major: Engineering

Thank you again to TAA for this generous scholarship. Although my local Thai community is relatively small, I still have found simple ways to help out where I could. Every year my mother and I assist our local Buddhist temple while they celebrate Thai festivals and honor Thai cultural traditions. During The Songkran festival I assist the temple in setting up for the festivities as well as bringing food to the monks. The temple also celebrates Loi Krathong, beauty pageants are set up at the temple, I help set up tables and tents and as families start arriving at the temple I welcome them and assist any elder that needs help. For the older Thai people who need assistance but do not have family members close, I help them with daily tasks, such as mowing their grass, taking out their garbage, or anything else they need done. During my senior year of high school many choices had to be made, but most importantly I had to decide what college I was going to attend and what my major would be throughout my college career. After much consideration I decided to choose Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering as my major, a very difficult yet rewarding degree to have. I hope to succeed in my college endeavors; to graduate from a university would make my family very proud. My future career plans are to hopefully get my officers commission in the United States Air Force so I can help protect the country that has given my family so much. The reactions I received from my family and community was of amazement, many tear filled congratulations, and joyous well wishes. Once I found out I was chosen I was in a state of disbelief, I was finally recognized for all my hard work and commitment I put into my education. I believe it is important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because most of us didn't have it easy growing up, our parents wanted us to grow up in America to have a better shot at succeeding then they ever did. Finally I want to thank all the donors who contribute to APIASF, without your support many students wouldn't have the means to go to college.

photo Sean Gilmore
APIASF / MetLife Foundation
Hometown: Columbus, KS
High School: Columbus Unified High School
College: University of Kansas
Major: Pre-Medicine

I would personally like to thank APIASF and MetLife for this wonderful scholarship! When I found out that I received the scholarship, I screamed for joy. My twin sister and I both received an APIASF scholarship. We were so extremely happy and my family was very proud of us. This scholarship will help tremendously in my pursuits for a higher education. I will be attending the University of Kansas for a focus in pre-medicine. As of right now, I intend to major in secondary education. I'm very excited for the road ahead! While in college, I hope to be involved in many various activities like marching band, Young Democrats, Campus Christians, and more! I hope to maintain a high GPA and to work to help pay for school. I plan to receive my bachelor's degree and attend medical school shortly after that. After I complete medical school, I hope to become a pediatrician. I would love to open my own business! I also plan to travel overseas to volunteer for educational or health purposes. My goal is to visit places all over the world and to help them with the knowledge and skills that I have been blessed with! I am truly so thankful for your help in funding my education. Thank you to all the contributors that make these dreams possible for many. I want to specifically thank MetLife and APIASF. Thank you for selecting me as a finalist and seeing potential in me.

photo Anthony Nguyen
APIASF / FedEx Scholar
Hometown: Seattle, WA
High School: West Seattle High School
College: University of Washington
Major: Pre-Medicine

As the oldest child in my family, I will be the first to attend college and one of the few in my community to pursue higher education. Coming from a single-parent household and a low-income Vietnamese family is tough, but I want other youths to see the possibilities of success they could attain through motivation and following their hearts. It has always been my dream to attend the University of Washington and I am excited to attend in the fall of 2011. I will be experiencing life in a different environment and hope to accomplish many achievements there. I hope to major in chemistry or biology and apply for medical school to obtain a M.D. to become a physician. Healthcare and dental care resources are not always available within low-income communities, and I would like to provide for everyone, including those within my community. I would like to personally thank the APIASF and other donors for selecting me as a scholarship recipient. It is an honor to be chosen among thousands of eager applicants. Upon seeing the email, I thought it would be another notice of rejection. However, it was the opposite! I was so happy that I informed all my family, mentors, community members, and teachers. They were all proud of this opportunity given.

photo Kha Hong Sok
APIASF / Farmers Insurance Scholar
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School: Lincoln High School
College: University of California, Berkeley
Major: Mathematics

This scholarship really means a lot to me and my family because the cost of tuition was always my first worry about going to college. It has always been my lifelong goal to become a math teacher. Math means everything to me and I am very passionate about the whole concept and idea of learning math. In the coming years as I pursue my studies at University of California Berkeley and major in mathematics, I will know exactly whom to thank for making my dream and goal possible. This scholarship will help to lessen the financial burden on my parents. Learning English is like learning how to walk. Step by step, climbing up from one level to the next; full of tragedies and obstacles. But I become stronger every single day since I first walked in to my ESL class three years ago. Moreover, all of the experiences and determination reaching from one level of English class to another lead me on a very successful path and encouraged me to take AP English Literature class. During these four years in high school, I learned the necessity of improving my English skills in order to continue my education in college and to reach my long term goals. I am very passionate about math and want to be a math teacher.

photo Jenine Ly Garcia
APIASF / Southern California Edison Scholar
Hometown: Cerritos, CA
High School: Gahr High School
College: University of California, Irvine
Major: Environmental Studies

Believe it or not, I was actually more excited to receive a scholarship from APIASF then I was when I received my first college acceptance letter. Receiving the APIASF scholarship just pushes me harder to reach for my dreams. My goal in college is to major in Environmental Studies and work with local and international water companies to purify and find ways to clean water for communities locally and all over the world. I feel as though the less than 2% of water we have left in the world needs to be put to good use, and in order to do so, action must be taken. In high school, I was in a program called Model United Nations, a class that opened my eyes to all the world wide issues dealing with poverty, human trafficking, and even nuclear war. In all essence, I was hooked into the program when I started my freshman year. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to save the world one way or the other. This coming fall, when I start my first year at the University of California, Irvine I hope to become the best I can be. I hope to succeed in keeping up good grades, and eventually grow into an amazing leader, for my family, friends, and my community.

photo Edward Igarashi
APIASF / Hilton Scholar
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High School: Okinawa Christian School International
College: Santa Monica College
Major: Business Administration

I am humbly thankful for the greatest opportunity that APIASF has given me to achieve my goal. I cannot thank more for what APIASF has given me and this will change my education at Santa Monica College significantly. I was overjoyed when I received a message that I was selected as a recipient of the APIASF scholarship. All the people around me congratulated me for the scholarship. In fact, at my high school graduation, I was the only one that has been announced for having a scholarship and that was the moment where I felt that my hard work has finally paid off. I am proud that my family, friends, and the community have finally recognized me as a hard worker. I have just graduated an international school in Okinawa, Japan, and looking forward to move to California. I will be attending Santa Monica College in Los Angeles, majoring in Business Management. Since I was a little boy, it has always been my dream to own my own company and applying my knowledge from college and job experience to succeed. I will continue to work harder to achieve my goal as a business owner and give back from what I gained from my family and the community.

photo Elizabeth (Lisa) Han
APIASF / UnitedHealth Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Cresskill, NJ
High School: Cresskill High School
College: Barnard College
Major: Psychology

This gracious award means I can continue to pursue my dreams to achieve the best education possible as a college pre-med student. I've dreamt of becoming a doctor for many years, but the financial hindrance of attaining an education was always an obstacle I constantly worried over; I have found a new hope to achieve my dreams. I plan on majoring in psychology once I'm in college. I hope that I can further my understanding of human emotions, whether they are verbal or nonverbal, so that I can better treat my patients. By grasping the different possibilities of thinking occurring in a patient's mind, I can become a better physician. Now that I am one step closer to becoming a doctor, I am also one step closer to contributing to my community. I can provide health care as a service through free clinics or through trips to underdeveloped nations, especially those Asian nations in need of medical care. I strive to meet and then exceed the expectations to display a commitment to learning, a willingness to serve without compensation, the wisdom and self-confidence to lead, and a dedication to demonstrate responsibility, trustworthiness, and citizenship.

photo Kingsley Gibbens
APIASF / Walmart Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Eustis, NE
High School: Eustis-Farnam High School
College: Southeast Community College, Milford
Major: Electronic Systems Technology

When I found out I received this scholarship, I was amazed since I was selected out of thousands of qualified individuals. I was proud that my hard work paid off and thankful for this scholarship money. I plan to study in the program of Electronic Systems Technology. I chose this program because of my love for technology ever since I was a little boy. I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked and I have always enjoyed working on our family computer. After I graduate, I plan to find a job involving Alternative Energy Technology. I want to someday use my love for technology to make the world a healthier, more efficient place to live. I am looking forward to college because I want to influence my friends and family by showing them that a secondary education is vital to being successful in life. As I get older, I don't want to have to struggle or see my own family struggle. My life has been full of challenges including me being adopted, but who doesn't struggle in their day to day to life? It's how I approach these stressful situations that will help me be successful. I have to always have a positive attitude and work hard in everything I do and never give up. That's my philosophy in life I and I try to live this way in everything I do. Last but not least, I want to thank the donors, corporations, and foundations that made APIASF possible.

photo Aulola Moli
APIASF / Honda Scholar
Hometown: West Valley, UT
High School: Cottonwood High School
College: Weber State University
Major: Forensic Science

When I received the news that I had gotten the APIASF scholarship, my mother and I jumped in excitement and gratitude that I was receiving help with my payment for college. I want to pursue a major in either Forensic Sciences or in English and as I study in these fields I hope that I can make the world a better place; whether it be by helping my community in the Law Enforcement by decreasing crime rates, or by teaching others about the amazing complexities of English Literature. I know that it is vital to pursue a higher education because we need all the knowledge that we can obtain to be successful in this extremely competitive world. As we pursue a higher education, we are pushed to new limits that will make us think and work harder and as a result we will be the best that we can be in helping this world become a better place. We will also be able to help our future families and we will set an example to younger generations about the importance of going to college after high school. I am truly grateful to APIASF for creating so opportunities for students to achieve their goals and their dreams by aiding them as they struggle to pay for college.

photo Matthew Cha
APIASF / USA Funds Scholar
Hometown: Portland, OR
High School: Roosevelt High School
College: Pacific Luthern University
Intended Major: Mathematics

My first objective in college is to accomplish everything necessary to become a mechanical engineer. I would like to be a part of the Nike crew and find innovative ways to use technology in order to support athletes in competing at their highest potential. Afterwards I then plan on receiving a certification in secondary education and coaching. I want to return to my high school, Roosevelt, and teach mathematics while at the same time using basketball as a method to coach young men on the important life lessons I learned in my youth. I was very touched at the realization that there were others outside my family and community that supported my dreams of higher education. I think that more Asian and Pacific Islander American students should understand the significance of continuing their education after high school. The generations of our families that came before us have worked hard so that we could have the significantly easier life we all know. I have watched both my parents, and my grandparents, strive to provide their families a good life while financially struggling. This has driven me to do great things so that I could return their gestures.

photo Adeem Tahira
APIASF / Darden Restaurants Foundation
Hometown: Knightsdale, NC
High School: Knightsdale High School
College: East Carolina University
Major: Biochemistry

I plan on attending East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. While attending ECU I am hoping to attain a degree in Biochemistry and American History so that I may apply to medical school after college. Eventually I hope to become an endocrinologist and serve those in medical need. While at college I plan on being involved in many student organizations including one meant for Asian students and those that give back to the community. Being awarded this scholarship has motivated me to give back just as the APIASF/Darden Restaurants has done for me. When I found out I had received the scholarship I was very excited because this scholarship meant the most to me out of any other because I related to the feeling of being an Asian American student. It's important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education because most of us come from areas where education is not as valued as it is in the United States. To all the individual donors, corporations, and foundations I would like to say thank you! It is because of organizations like those involved in the APIASF that students, like me, are able to pursue a higher education.

photo Anthony Phan
APIASF / Target Scholar
Hometown: Longwood, FL
High School: Seminole High School
College: University of Florida
Major: Pharmacy

I am very honored to be a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship, and I would like to thank APIASF as well as the donors, corporations, and foundations that gave me the opportunity to attend college. It means a lot to me and especially to my parents. I am a first generation Asian Pacific Islander American, and attending college has been a huge step for my parents and myself. They are very proud and grateful. My parents have told me that hard work always pays off at the end. We were ecstatic when we found out I was selected as a scholarship recipient. With the help of this scholarship, I hope to pursue a career in the field of pharmacy. I think it is very important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to receive a higher education, especially the first generation students, because we are representing our past generations, and our parents have worked so hard to get us this far, which they never had the opportunity to do so before. Again, I would like to thank APIASF for this opportunity and congratulations to all APIASF scholarship recipients.

photo Samiha Azam
APIASF / Sara Lee Foundation
Hometown: Keller, TX
High School: Central High School
College: Southern Methodist University
Major: Biology

Throughout my senior year, I was overwhelmed with the obstacle of paying for college and my inability to fully succeed because of the lack of money for college. However, I am greatly honored to be awarded with the scholarship APIASF offered me and will surely put it to good use in furthering my education. After I found out that I was selected for this scholarship, I was overcome with joy and relief. Not only was my family proud, but my whole Asian American community was excited about this opportunity that APIASF offered me. I knew with this scholarship, I wouldn't have to worry as much as I did before about paying for college. I hope to attain a Bachelor's degree in Psychological and Biological sciences at Southern Methodist University and then go on to pursue a Medical degree. My exposure to different plights and volunteerism at hospitals has inspired me to live a life of giving back to the community through the practice of healthcare. As far as my career is considered, I wish to become a Pediatric Physician Assistant at a hospital or clinic, and then go on to work with UNICEF in developing countries. I know with this scholarship, I will hopefully accomplish my dreams of a graduating from medical school and having a career as a Physician Assistant. I greatly appreciate this wonderful and renowned opportunity that the APIASF and donors are funding. Because of APIASF's gracious effort to support Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, students will no longer be overlooked and will be able to pursue educations that are crucial for their development of their communities.

photo Jimmy Du
APIASF / Verizon Foundation
Hometown: El Monte, CA
High School: Temple City High School
College: Stanford University
Major: Electrical Engineering

I am currently an Electrical Engineering major at Stanford University, but am beginning to lean more toward Computer Science and Mathematics. I am challenging myself as much as possible so that I can make a positive difference in the world someday. I am extremely grateful toward APIASF and the Verizon Foundation, as well as the other donators who have helped fund APIASF's scholarships. Thank you so much for your support. I will continue to do everything I can to make use of the time and financial assistance that you have entrusted to me.

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