2012 APIASF Scholar Profiles

photo Ciana Kalani Heinesen-Johnson
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA
High School: Rincon Valley Christian School
College: William Jessup University
Major: Intercultural Studies

When I found out that I was chosen as a recipient of the APIASF scholarship, I could not believe the words I was reading. I was in shock! When the initial surprise faded, I was filled with a deep sense of joy and gratitude and was so incredibly encouraged to know that someone believes in my educational dreams and goals! I will be attending William Jessup University in the fall with scholarships in multiple areas that include Cross Country, Choir, and a scholarship from my intended major of Intercultural Studies with a minor in either Public Policy or Family and Children's Ministries. After graduating, I want to work with an international organization such as World Vision, and use my life in order to help people who are unable to help themselves. Being able to attend college is such an incredible blessing to me and to my family. We struggle financially and this scholarship has been the last bit of aid that I needed in order to make my dream of going to a four year university a reality. I cannot express my gratitude enough. Thank you so very much for this amazing opportunity!

photo Sierra Alexis Baumbach
APIASF/ Sara Lee Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Crosby, TX
High School: Crosby High School
College: Baylor University
Major: Religious Studies/Journalism

I had always been a sort of wonder in my small town, where there weren't very many who called themselves Pacific Islanders, and for many of my elementary school years I remember constantly explaining it. I never grew ashamed of it, choosing to be prideful of it, and thanks to that pride I now owe a huge thank you to APIASF for giving me the chance to continue my education at the school I've had my eye set on for years. I will be attending a four-year private university in Texas, and will be double majoring in Religious Studies and Journalism. I'm hoping to use the knowledge I gain there to go out into the world and redefine the prejudice that so many people form from religion. Receiving the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund Scholarship was a blessing; it gave me the push that I needed to make sure everything was in order for the fall. I will be the first of my family to attend college. I thank individual donors, corporations, and foundations for giving so many of us a chance at higher education.

photo Forrest Lin
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Rosemead, CA
High School: Schurr High School
College: Yale University
Major: Political Science

I am beyond honored and feel extremely gracious to be a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship, and I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to this organization for allowing me the opportunity to attend college and thrive. I am a first generation college student. My parents did not graduate high school. From a young age, education was paramount in my family. I always tried to excel and surpass my limits in school because I realized the importance of college. I was beyond ecstatic when I found out that all the hard work paid off when I was admitted to Yale University. I also realized, however, that to pay for college was another matter - my parents' income is half of a year of Yale tuition. And despite financial aid, I was still facing a financial burden. This is why I am so beyond gracious to have received this scholarship. With the help of this scholarship, I want to pursue the major Ethics, Politics, and Economics. I think it is becoming increasingly important for Asian Americans to be represented in the field of jurisprudence, politics, and policymaking. I want to be a part of this. I want to represent fellow Asian Americans and the underrepresented by giving them a voice in American society. APIASF has given me the opportunity to attend college, and to accomplish my future goals. I am truly grateful.

photo Daniel Chau
APIASF/ United Health Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Hayward, CA
High School: Tennyson High School
College: UC Berkeley
Major: Biochemistry

When I received the news that I was a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship, I was beyond words. This was the first scholarship that I received and it is something I will never forget. Being that I come from a single parent household, my family encounters many financial issues. After telling my mom and my younger brother I had won this scholarship, they were both ecstatic. I knew that paying for college would be a huge burden on my family, and receiving this scholarship would be an enormous help for covering my college fees. This fall, I will be attending UC Berkeley as the first person in my family to go to college. I plan to study Molecular and Cell Biology, with the hopes of entering medical school after my four years as an undergraduate. I want to enter the medical field because my mother suffers from many medical issues, including high blood pressure. In medical school, I want to research cures for various types of medical issues, not just to help my mother, but to help all people. I want to create a positive impact on the world and I believe that I can accomplish that through medical research. I would like to thank APIASF for this scholarship because without their support, I don't know how I would be able to pay for college. I am truly thankful and will do my absolute best to achieve my goals.

photo Natasha Mandolang
APIASF/ United Health Foundation Scholar
Hometown: San Bernardino, CA
High School: Colton High School
College: La Sierra University
Major: Pre-medicine

Being the first in my family to attend college has served as a challenge and motivation for me. Since I lacked an older role model who has experienced college, I had to work extra hard to walk myself through the path towards my college education. A desire and determination were the key driving factors that continuously motivated me to strive for my dreams. Receiving the honor of being an APIASF Scholar has only added to my motivation as well as elevated me to a higher plane of success in working towards a bright future. My academic goals are to attend La Sierra University, pursue a Bachelor's in Clinical Laboratory Science, go on to medical school, and ultimately become a missionary doctor. As a missionary doctor, I plan to provide evangelism and healthcare to underprivileged children and adults in Third World countries. This scholarship means just as much for my parents as it does for me because, growing up in Indonesia, my parents had absolutely no scholarship/financial aid opportunities and as a result, they were unable to pursue a college education. Through this experience, my parents worked hard to raise me in the United States of America, the land of opportunity, because they desire for me to pursue the dreams that they were unable to pursue. With this said, a long-time goal of mine is to make my parents proud and grow up to take care of them just as they have taken care of me all my life.

photo Yminh Ho
APIASF/ AT&T Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Houston, TX
High School: Alief Hastings High School
College: Art Institute of New York
Major: Fashion Design

I would like to thank APIASF for providing financial assistance to support me during my journey to higher education at the University of Houston, Texas. My parents gave up their stable lives in Vietnam when bringing four children to America in 2007. They have been working long hours with low salary to pay for my education. The scholarship provides a helping hand to my parents and me. With the scholarship money, I hope to buy a used car to drive to school and to work part time so that I can pay my school fees. This would help reduce my parents' burden. Also, the scholarship encourages me to study harder so that I can make my dream come true. I always want to become a fashion designer who uses the skills, knowledge, and inspiration to better serve the society. I hope that in the future I will become one of the most skilled fashion designers in Texas. Again, I would like to thank APIASF for being very generous to me.

photo Hannah Choe
APIASF/ Toyota Scholar
Hometown: Fullerton, CA
High School: Sunny Hills High School
College: Boston College
Intended Major: Biomedical Sciences

I would like to thank APIASF for this generous scholarship. I will be attending Boston College, studying Biology in pursuit of the medical field. My interest stems from establishing Donate Life Club to honor the legacy of my younger sister Erin who became a cornea tissue donor five years ago. I came face-to-face with the urgent need of organ/tissue donation and the lifesaving mission. Growing up with albinism as a Korean American with platinum blond hair and blue eyes was not typical. Furthermore, being legally blind with Type 1 diabetes culminated my interest in medicine and the importance of health. I put extra dedication and zeal to strive in my high school years to exemplify that adverse circumstances can yield positive outcome.

This scholarship gives hope and motivates me to press on towards my college education so that I may display the true joy of life in giving to others, especially those in need. My humble desire is to inspire others with empowerment to overcome their circumstances. In addition, I have seen my parents who helped non-English speaking Korean Americans over the years. I have come to appreciate where I am today and look to what the future education and experiences will nourish in me to be available for the Asian community.

photo Poe Dee
APIASF/ Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
High School: Lincoln High School
College: Wayne State College
Major: Political Science

As I plan on pursuing my education at Wayne State College, I plan on majoring in Political Science and Education with hopes of becoming a lawyer. I believe Political Science and Education are beautiful subjects that will match my strengths, skills, and my desire to help fellow Karen refugees in Burma and who have resettled in the United States. As I always say, "I will never give up. I will never change my mind no matter what and I will try extremely hard to reach my educational goals." I am the first person in my family to attend college. The financial assistance you provided will be of great help in paying my educational expenses and allow me to focus on the most important aspect of school, learning. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to reaching and achieving my goals I will honor your generosity by giving back to others in the community to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. I am deeply appreciative and thankful to APIASF for supporting me in achieving my educational goals.

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

As a second year Electrical Engineering major (software track) at Stanford University, I am extremely grateful to have been awarded the two-year APIASF Scholarship. I would like to thank APIASF and the three donors that have supported me over the past two years. These scholarships have been fundamental toward my development in perspective and goals. I am where I am today because of your support. Over the past several years, your scholarships have granted me precious time to allocate toward coursework and research. With each passing year, I have become more passionate about my studies and have gained a clearer perspective on what I want to do next. I am strongly considering pursuing a Ph.D. program, after my four years of undergraduate studies. I will continue to work hard in my coursework and research so that I can give back to the community on a greater scale someday.

photo Shu-Ting Chan
APIASF/ Hilton Scholar
Hometown: Seattle, WA
High School: Garfield High School
College: University of Washington
Major: Business

Throughout my life, I have never won any lotteries, trophies, or special awards. So when I received my APIASF award letter, I was speechless. Receiving a nation-wide scholarship meant a lot more than just helping my family to pay for my college education. It allowed me to see how all my time, effort, and hard work that I spent was worth it. Even though I had to make tough sacrifices and decisions, I do not regret any of my experiences as I worked hard in high school to prepare for college. I am the first in my family to graduate high school and I will be studying business at the University of Washington. College is full of unknowns to me as my parents have no knowledge or experiences with it. I am excited to explore this next chapter in my life that will affect not only my future but also my family's. I want to give thanks to the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund for selecting me as a finalist. I am honored to be an APISAF Scholars.

photo Matthew Kim
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Pasadena, TX
High School: Deer Park High School
College: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Biomedical Sciences

"Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded the APIASF Scholarship." Words cannot even justify how overwhelmed I was when I found out I was a recipient of this award. In fact, I am still in disbelief, yet extremely honored. The amount of hard work and dedication I have put forth academically, musically, and mentally throughout these past eighteen years have truly shaped the person I am today. At a very young age, with the pressure of my Korean parents, I learned to succeed and be successful in everything I do, in which I have tried my absolute best to achieve. They have always stressed and emphasized to me how imperative college and a stellar education are. However, with financial problems, we all suspected that the strain of finances being a hindrance to my academic pursuits was inevitable. Fortunately, gratuitous scholarships, such as the APIASF Scholarship, have already made a positive impact on my academic life and future as they have allowed me to continue my endeavors of becoming an anesthesiologist. In fact, I will be attending Emory University where I will be majoring in Biology. I would love to thank APIASF as well as the donors, corporations, and foundations for awarding me this scholarship and allowing me to pursue a higher education. Without them, attending college and obtaining a stellar education would have forced a huge burden financially. Again, I am truly grateful for this opportunity and want to thank you for all your support.

photo Kasmira Engichy
APIASF/ Metlife Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Mangilao GU
High School: Academy of Our Lady of Guam
College: Marquette University
Major: International Relations

In life, there will always be difficulties and fears every person must face. My biggest fear of attending college and continuing my education after graduating from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam is affording college. I am very grateful to be a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship. It lessens the burden of college expenses and will definitely be a major factor in the continual process of my education. I will be attending the Helen Way Klinger College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University. I will endure major changes including distance from my family and most especially a change in climate. Being from Guam and being used to the heat will take major adjustments to the Wisconsin weather. I will not let that stop me though. I am majoring in International Relations in order to work in a foreign embassy or even the United Nations. I know that it may seem impossible for someone like me, a girl from the tiny island of Guam with a family lineage from Chuuk and Japan to accomplish something this big, but I will give it my all. My parents support me in this dream that I have and they were very happy to hear that I had received the APIASF Scholarship. I think the pursuing of higher education for Asian Pacific Islanders is important in the demonstration of our uniqueness regardless of our being a minority.

photo Tori Monette
APIASF/ Sodexo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Bellflower, CA
High School: Woodrow Wilson Classical High School
College: University of California, Irvine
Major: Public Health Sciences

I was truly honored to find out I had been selected as a recipient of an APIASF Scholarship from a pool of more than 7,000 outstanding candidates. I am proud of my achievements and this award has motivated me to continue down the road to success. I am currently a sophomore at the University of California, Irvine as a Public Health Sciences major with two minors in Business Management and Civic and community Engagement. I am exceedingly grateful for the individual donors, corporations, and foundations for their generosity in aiding Asian and Pacific Islander students to make attending the university more affordable. As a minority, I am very appreciative of the efforts of APIAF's donors to contribute in funding my educational career and enabling me to inspire other Pacific Islander students to continue in higher education. Thanks to this scholarship, I am one step closer to achieving my goal of pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner to serve minorities in underprivileged communities. This opportunity has inspired me to help other students achieve their goals and give back to the community.

photo Chuguo Liao
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Copley, OH
High School: Copley High School
College: The Ohio State University
Major: Dentistry

Having applied early to all my colleges, the only concern I had afterwards was the financial burden of college. As I waited for the acceptance results I desperately applied to many scholarships, including the APIASF scholarship, in attempt to ease my parents' worries. After a couple of months I found out that I got into The Ohio State University with almost a full scholarship. Already thankful for this blessing, I later found out that I was awarded with the APIASF Scholarship as well. I was so relieved and, at the same time, thankful to all the donors, corporations, and foundations behind APIASF who allowed me to attend college worry-free. In the next few years, I hope to walk in the steps of my grandpa and become a dentist. I know that this road will be tough but I am determined to succeed, taking full advantage of this wonderful opportunity before me.

photo Sittikul Panvipa
APIASF/ Verizon Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ
High School: Cherry Hill High School West
College: Rutgers University
Major: Finance

As a rising junior majoring in Finance, the news could not have come at a better time. Because I fund my college education on my own, each year of schooling is uncertain. With the help of the APIASF Scholarship I will not have to worry, instead I can focus on becoming the first in my family to obtain a college degree. I do not have specific career goals instead I only want to love what I do and inspire others to do the same. Thank you APIASF and Verizon Foundation for changing not only my life and my family's, but the lives of other aspiring Asian and Pacific Islander American students as well. I will never forget the way my parents' faces lit up when I received the award letter. Despite the ups and downs I have faced, the APIASF Scholarship has given me the hope and determination to keep on keeping on. Without APIASF and its donors, I would not have the means to continue my college education.

photo Sabrina Nicole Mazza
APIASF/ Hilton Scholar
Hometown: Cary, N.C.
High School: Cardinal Gibbons High School
College: North Carolina State University
Major: Hospitality Administration

I feel extremely privileged and grateful to be a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship because not only does this scholarship make me proud of my Asian heritage, but more importantly, it will help me achieve my dreams for success through a higher education. I come from a mixed background with a loving Taiwanese mother and a very supportive Italian father, both who have worked hard to ensure a bright and exciting future for me. When my family and I found out that I was chosen for this auspicious scholarship, we were more than just astonished. We realized that with this scholarship, I will be able to soundly pursue my long-time dream of becoming an event coordinator/wedding planner through North Carolina State's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Program under the College of Natural Resources. With these academic credentials, I hope to secure a career with a major hotel chain and be able to work at resort locations all over the world. With that said, I would like to thank all the members of the APIASF for granting me this generous scholarship and making such dreams of mine seem more and more of a reality. I would also like to thank everyone at Hilton for their extreme generosity. A bright future is ahead of me and I can't wait to see what it holds!

photo Naomi Owens
APIASF/ Sodexo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Aiea, HI
High School: University High School
College: University of Phoenix
Major: Information Technology

I am attending University of Phoenix, Mililani campus studying for a Bachelor's degree in IT concentrating in Software Engineering. Besides being a student, I am a wife, mother of two, and work a full-time job. When deciding to return to college I put a lot of consideration into how I will manage my time. My family is really understanding and helpful in my pursuing a college degree. I explained to my children the reason I needed to go back to school is that having a college degree is the only way to excel in higher paying positions. I hope that this endeavor will serve as an example for my children whom I would like to see further their education with college. When I told my husband and children that I received the APIASF Scholarship, they were ecstatic. They gave me hugs and kisses and when I came home from work, they cooked my favorite dinner dish. I would like to thank APIASF for helping ease the financial burden of college finances and showing my children that hard work pays off.

photo Abhinav Sharma
APIASF/ Sodexo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Sugar Land, TX
High School: L.V. Hightower High School
College: Emory University
Major: Behavioral Sciences

I am truly honored and blessed to have been named an APIASF Scholar for 2012-2013. As a first generation Indian-American, I have spent time in a rural boarding school a mere block away from poverty and despair. Experiencing different cultures has taught me to not take anything for granted, and to live my life with a sense of direction; I am on track to graduate in 2014 with a BS in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, and ultimately wish to obtain MD and Ph.D. degrees and pursue a career as a physician-scientist. Before matriculating into medical school, however, I want to take a year off and work abroad; either doing research or volunteering in medically underserved areas. I have founded a Coaching Corps chapter at Emory to encourage and provide support for underprivileged youth through sports. I also volunteer at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta, as well as partake in undergraduate research amongst various other on-campus activities. This scholarship will provide a huge boost to me and my family, and being named a recipient of this award already has inspired me to continue working to achieve my dreams and goals.

photo Emmy Li
APIASF/ United Health Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Flushing, NY
High School: Queens School of Inquiry
College: Adelphi University
Major: Nursing

During a discussion of human rights and property, my professor told me a little proverb: A person walks into a forest with no particular reason and comes across an apple tree. As soon as the person reaches out and picks the apple, the apple belongs to him. It is his award for making an effort to do so. Receiving this scholarship is like obtaining that apple; it has made me realize that failure is only when I don't try. When I heard that I was a finalist, I was happier with myself than my family was. I realized that determination and effort will always lead me to accomplish my goals. This scholarship has also helped me move closer to my goal of becoming a nurse. I want to pursue nursing because I enjoy helping others and taking care of patient's health. For my next four years of college, I look forward to having a full experience as a college student. Thank you APIASF for giving me this opportunity. This is one of my biggest accomplishments with many more to come.

photo Biak Par
APIASF/ AT&T Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
High School: Southport High School
College: University of Indianapolis
Major: Chemistry

To me, community service is not just a project I should do or a commitment I should make. It is part of my daily life. As a refugee, I have survived by the kindness of others. Every time I serve others, I am reminded that I used to be in their position. Also, I want my parents and my relatives to be proud of me as I will be the first person to attend college in our family. After majoring in chemistry, I hope to attend medical school. Every time I see blind people, I have empathy for them. I know the challenges they face because I watched my grandfather experience them too. I used to have a grandfather who was blind. After my grandfather left the world, I decided to become an ophthalmologist so I can help or prevent blindness. When I found that I received APIASF Scholarship, my family and I was out of joy. Having both parents who work at warehouse, we still struggle with meeting our daily needs, making it impossible for us to pay for college. With this financial assistance, I can go to college which can lead me through my dream to become ophthalmologist and provider for my community.

photo Bhim Raj Pokhrel
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
High School: Dr. Emmett J. Conrad High School
College: Tarleton State University
Major: Business Management

Coming from a country where most people are illiterate and facing an economic crisis in America has taught me the importance of education. Along with my brother I am currently supporting my parents with an entry level job; attending university would have been impossible without your kind support. I have always dreamed of studying business, and now my plan after graduating from college is to achieve an MBA. You have made me feel like my dreams are starting to come true.

My family overcame many challenges back in the refugee camp in Nepal, and we have faced more here in the U.S. due to lack of language and employment. I never hoped that I would be able to make my way to University in this great country. I didn't even consider it until my teacher persuaded me to apply for scholarships. Then she encouraged me to write and apply for even more. I did it but never expected to receive one. When I saw the e-mail from APIASF selecting me as a semifinalist for the scholarship, I was shocked. I shouted so loudly with excitement that my parents became worried, but when they understood they were so happy for me. When I told my teacher the news, she was happy but mentioned that she had always expected success from me.

I want to thank all of the donors who support APISAF and help Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue a higher education. It is such an important contribution.

photo Sidney Ning Shepard
APIASF/ Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Wisdom, MT
High School: Beaverhead County High School
College: Augsburg College
Major: Microbiology

I would like to say "Thank You" for your generous support of the APIASF Scholarship Program. With your charitable donation I was able to receive a $2,500 dollar scholarship that I can apply to the cost of my college tuition. This scholarship helps me pay for college without taking out any additional loans. I am very grateful for this money and can guarantee you it will be put to excellent use. I will be attending Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN and will be majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Molecular Biology; this undergraduate study will help prepare me for a great medical school. After medical school I plan on going into a surgical residency, where I will officially decide my surgical specialization however, I plan on specializing in cardio thoracic surgery. As a woman of Filipina, Anglo and Native American heritage I believe it is important to be represented in fields that are consistently underrepresented. Surgical residents are more than three fourths men and there are very few minority women who practice cardio thoracic surgery. The money I received was very much needed, and I hope that someday I can help other students, like you have helped me.

photo Yuepheng Vang
APIASF/ Hilton Scholar
Hometown: Maysville, AR
High School: Decatur High School
College: NWACC
Major: Hospitality Administration

When I finished high school, I was just beginning a new part of my life. The next step was college. During my college years I plan on majoring in the medical field. I hope to receive my bachelor's degree and apply the experiences from my college years to my life. As for my future career plans, I hope to find a job in a hospital where I can assist in any way I can. When I was notified in June, I was so shocked to see an e-mail saying congratulations from APIASF. My heart broke out in happiness that I finally got a scholarship. I had been writing so much, just applying to anything I could, but had received nothing in return. I'm glad to see that my hard work has finally paid off and that with determination and persistence you can do anything. My family and teachers couldn't believe it at first because I was notified in May regarding the large numbers of applicants, but when I showed them the email they smiled back happily and told me they were proud of me. Asian and Pacific Islander American students as well as everyone else should aim for a higher education because education is the key to your future. Lastly, I want to thank all the donors, corporations, and foundations that have made the APIASF Scholarship possible. Without your kindness, many of us would struggle financially.

photo Siden Un
APIASF/ Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Plymouth, MN
High School: Wayzata High School
College: Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Major: Nursing

Thank you for awarding me this scholarship and the opportunity to pursue a college education. This scholarship means more to me than words can express. It is hard to believe I was living homeless under a bridge in Cambodia once. Now I am an American citizen in a wonderful country where I have the freedom to study, work hard and change my future. This scholarship has allowed me to concentrate on my studies and worry less about tuition costs. I plan to major in nursing and work as a nurse practitioner, in the field of obstetrics/gynecology and women's health care. I hope to use my knowledge and skills to bridge the gap between poor, uneducated people and the health care systems available to them. It is very important for Asian and Pacific Islander American students to pursue higher education. This can help steer them away from hopelessness and poverty, to a world of opportunity and change. Education is empowerment for such minority groups, who are very limited due to lack of knowledge, skills and financial resources. These communities will improve their own circumstance through education and give rise to motivated and successful citizens. I sincerely thank you very much for the honor of this scholarship. I promise to use my opportunities well and improve the lives of others through a career in nursing.

photo Amara Tang
APIASF/ FedEx Scholar
Hometown: San Diego, CA
High School: The Preuss School UCSD
College: University of California, San Diego
Major: Political Science

When I received the email informing me that I was selected as a recipient of the APIASF Scholarship, I just stared at it in disbelief. I logged out of my e-mail address, and then logged back in to check if it was really my email. Fortunately, it was and I ran to tell my parents that I won a $10,000 scholarship! I had never won a scholarship with that many zeros in my life. My parents are so proud of me because I will be the first generation in my family to go to college. I come from a low-income family and my parents are refugees of the Vietnam War. I struggled to financially afford resources such as private tutors and SAT preparation classes. I plan to major in Political Science and minor in Psychology. One day, I hope to become an attorney and represent the low-income families in my community. Ultimately, I want to use my education and communication skills to improve public policies to assist low-income, under-represented, and under-served communities. Through my service, I hope to motivate the future APIA generations to reach for a higher education. I want to thank APIASF for awarding me the APIASF Scholarship. This scholarship will fund my college education towards performing a public service career. Thank you for helping me achieve the vision I needed to realize the American Dream.

photo Fraser Tauaivale
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
High School: East Career & Technical Academy
College: UNLV
Major: Business (emphasis in Marketing)

Words cannot express the emotions running through my parents and I when we found out that I was awarded the title of APIASF Scholar. It was as if we won the lottery! As a freshman, my parents conveyed to me their dream of their children not only graduating high school, but also receiving college degrees. Being the eldest of five children, I made it a personal goal to make my parents' dreams come true while also setting a positive example for my younger siblings. Despite my motivation, a reality roadblock stood in front of me. This roadblock was the financial side of college. Living off of one income since moving to Las Vegas made my college goals seem like nothing more than a dream. It was as if my only chance of getting into college was to get a football scholarship like the other Samoan kids I grew up with. I strived and worked hard on the field and in the books, but unfortunately, my skills in the sport were mediocre. All hope was gone for me when football season ended and no colleges showed interest. My college dreams seemed very impossible. However, opening my letter from APIASF brought back that hope and motivation I once had. It made me realize that when one door closes, another one will always open. I am proud to say that I am an APIASF Scholar. I would like to thank the APIASF and all those who contribute to preparing our Asian & Pacific Islander youth for a better tomorrow. Fa'afetai tele lava.

photo Hena Zakir
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: West Hartford, CT
High School: William H. Hall High School
College: University of Connecticut
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Women's Studies

Being a first generation female student in my family, I'm humbled to be able to given the privilege of attending college and earning an education. With the help of the APIASF, it will be easier on my family to send two kids to school at once. Not only does this push me to achieve my best but to also come out on top, no matter what I strive to achieve. This scholarship not only makes me joyful, but has brought great delight to my entire family, my guidance counselor, my school and my community. It has made me realize that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. With this, I will be going to the University of Connecticut and majoring in Biological Sciences for Pre-Med with a minor in women's studies. I hope to become a great influence for women back in my parent's country. I want to become an OB/GYN not only to advocate for women's health but also women's rights and pave paths to prove that it possible to break down stereotypes to pursue our careers and dreams. This ambition should be fulfilled by all Asian and Pacific Islanders American students and thanks to the APIASF Scholarships it will be easier to achieve our goals with the financial help they provide. Thank you for everything.

photo Merlynn Tulen
APIASF/ Sodexo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Dededo, GU
High School: Simon Sanchez High School
College: Soka University of America
Major: International Relations

Education is the strong foundation for a successful and value-creating life. However, the price of receiving higher education is nearly bank-breaking, and unfortunately, I have seen many cross out the "attend college" option from their life goals because it is too expensive for them and their families. For me, my family and I were very thankful of this scholarship because it eased the financial burden of tuition expenses and allowed me to fully pursue my dream of graduating with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and a Concentration in International Studies, with a focus on human rights and policymaking. Through personal experience, I have seen people suffering from poverty and injustice caused by the corruption of the state and/or nation's government. One of my goals is to work in the field of human rights, whether it is in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations, or state/national governments, and alleviate the problems our societies are suffering with. I am very thankful for this award, and I will do my best to make the most out of my education and be an example for Asian and Pacific Islander American students.

photo Arjun Wagley
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Portland, OR
High School: Centennial High School
College: Portland State University
Major: Physics

I was born in the Bhutanese Refugee camp of Nepal and spent my whole life until my 16th birthday searching for better education. Having been in the United States for only two years as a Nepalese immigrant, I am proud to be a part of the APIASF family. APIASF has given me more motivation and hope to succeed. My family, specifically my grandfather was very proud to see that I was selected as a winner; it's a huge honor in my home because I will be the first in my family to go to college. When I told him that I got a scholarship, he was very happy and told all the relatives proudly. Next year, I will be attending Portland State University as a freshman majoring in Physics. As first generation immigrants, it is important to pursue higher education to help other immigrants who come from underdeveloped countries. Our little efforts and help can change the entire face of the AAPI community. I offer my sincerest thanks to APIASF for making my dream come true.

photo Johny Zheng
APIASF/ Wells Fargo Foundation Scholar
Hometown: Honolulu, HI
High School: Roosevelt High School
College: University of Hawai’i, Mānoa
Major: Dietetics and/or Clinical Nutrition Services

When I first received notice that I was a finalist for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, I was overjoyed with incredulity. Filled with ecstasy, I wanted to express my overall delight of actually receiving a scholarship that will help expand my knowledge in my major. My family felt blessed that I was awarded something to help abate my costs at college. Although I have not found a major yet, I plan to take courses that interest me in some way in order to find the particular career that I want to pursue. I will persevere in these courses and use the knowledge that I have been allowed to benefit society and my community once out of college. I will be attending the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and will work hard and diligently to do the best that I possibly can. I would like to find a career that will benefit society as community jobs are found to be the most enjoyable. I have already helped out in my local community through volunteer work with kids. I believe that with more knowledge, people are able to make better decisions and choose the right paths in creating lives they want to have. With higher education, they are guided in this direction and given the opportunity to forge their futures. I am deeply grateful and appreciative to APIASF and the individual donors, corporations, and foundations for giving me this opportunity to better my education.

top of page