2016 APIASF Scholar Profiles

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Deeh Chah
APIASF/3M Scholarship
Hometown: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Institution: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Major: Education

"My name is Deeh Chah. I'm a Hmong daughter from a family of eight. I was born in a Thai refugee camp and came to Minnesota at the age of eight. I graduated from Saint Paul Public Schools, where I learned English and met my diverse friends. I'll be a junior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I now feel more connected to campus; however, I had to first overcome isolation. I attended the U not only because it offered a better financial aid package but because it's a huge college with a diverse student population in which I wanted to experience. As I was trying to find my place at the U, I felt especially lost, invisible, and alienated in my Anthropology course my second year. The majority of the students in class were Caucasians. Because I didn't grow up interacting with many Caucasian students, I had a difficult time initiating, communicating, and building friendships with them. Attending class became a miserable experience because I couldn't depend on or have a conversation with anyone. In contrast, I was taking Accelerated Beginning Hmong fifty minutes before Anthropology. All the students were Hmong, an environment where isolation didn't exist. I felt most connected to campus in this course. Taking Hmong and Anthropology back to back was a good decision, ultimately. The high energy I consumed in Hmong aided me in Anthropology. It encouraged me to participate as well as observe how others interacted in class. The importance of balance is what I learned from this adversity. Overcoming this challenge has contributed to deep thoughts about my career goal of becoming an elementary educator. My passion for teaching thrived from school playing and tutoring my siblings and other students. I was also inspired by my father who was a temporary Thai refugee camp teacher but is now only an assembly worker due to the lack of American education. Balance: I want to add diversity to the teacher pool because it needs more educator from different backgrounds. I hope that students build and get comfortable around different people and culture from a young age so that they won't feel isolated when they go to unfamiliar places. I also want to teach abroad in (remote) villages where education is limited due to the lack of funding or other barriers. I want these communities to be literate and be exposed to the outside, bigger world.

I received the email right after I walked home from shadowing a Kindergarten classroom in Saint Paul. My exhaustion disappeared as my excitement for my third year at the U lit up! I said quietly to myself, "'Now I can for sure live in the dorm without many financial worries.'" Right away, I let my supportive references and family know about the news! As a low-income, first generation student, and a second daughter in college, my family and I sincerely and cannot thank APIASF and 3M enough for their generosity in supporting my education and career goals."

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Adrian Davis
APIASF/Anne Chow Scholarship
Hometown: Dedeo, Guam
Institution: Guam Community College
Major: Social Work

My name is Adrian Davis. I grew up facing many challenges. I lost my mother at the age of five. It took me a few years to realize that she was never going to step back into my life. I was raised by my father and grandparents who had also helped and supported me. I have been grieving the past few months as my Grandmother Rosa had passed back in January 2015 and my grandfather in July of 2016. They were helping support me financially so that I may go to school. They have taught me a great deal of what life is supposed to be. Now it is just my father amongst the people who have raised me so I hold him close. There were times that I struggled financially and my dad helps me anyway he can. Before my grandmother had passed she made me promise that I would finish going to college.

I am striving to become a social worker in the future. I myself, and others believe this profession would be best for me. I tend to project the "helper" attitude. I am currently dual enrolled between the Guam Community College as a Human Services major and University of Guam as a Social Major. Guam needs more social workers to help empower the people who experience problems and poverty. I want to be able to help those that suffer from language barriers and such because I have faced it in the past. If I had the help that I am willing to provide for the future as a social worker, then I am sure that I wouldn't have sacrificed as much as my family and I have. I want to send a message out about how bad situations do not last forever.

As a Pacific Islander, higher education is important to me because it shows what we are capable of achieving. People tend to stereotype our part of the world just because poverty exists; however, if we achieve high goals, we can prove the others wrong. I can serve as living proof. I have earned multiple scholarships from APIASF. I am part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and a member of various clubs at the Guam Community College. I currently serve as the GCC Board of Trustees Student Member after earning my Associates Degree and was previously the COPSA (Council on Post-secondary Student Affairs) President of GCC's Student Government. As you can see, I have achieved a lot the past few years as a Pacific Islander. We should stand strong because we can all succeed together.

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David Le
APIASF/AT&T Foundation Scholarship
Hometown: Stockton, California
Institution: University of California, Davis
Major: Biology (Pre-Medicine)

I am a first generation Vietnamese-American currently residing in Stockton, California. I have graduated from Lincoln High School in 2016 and will pursue a higher education, specifically Biological Sciences, at the University of California, Davis this fall. My immigrant family has faced many hardships and have had to face the question whether I the eldest son could go to college or if I should work to allow my younger sister the opportunity. Working part-time at a local grocery and studying full time, I knew very well and early the struggles of enormous responsibility. Yet, mental and physical fatigue did not hinder my intent to learn more about biology and myself. As a stock clerk and Vietnamese teacher I see the responsibility I have to not only family, but my local and ethnic community as well. The customers I served showed me their toughness and street smarts in how they tackled tough financial times in a city ranked as the most miserable city in the nation by Forbes. The students I taught, taught me that what I've learned in life and cherish must be shared with future generations and that both my identity and education are invaluable. I hope to continue serving my community by studying biology and pursuing a career as a doctor to return to my impoverished community and providing care in clinics especially in South Stockton whose districts are plagued by higher rates of crime and lower rates of citizens with access to health care. With this goal in mind, I hope to turn that Forbes title for Stockton upside down with fellow members of the community. In order for my hopes for the city's future to be realized I must receive my education and hope UC Davis will provide this. In order to pay for my tuition despite the maximum aid from Calgrant and such, I have applied for many scholarships and have chosen to do work-study programs. Yet only the APIASF scholarship has seen my merit and have decided to invest in my and Stockton's future. I am eternally grateful for whatever aid I am provided and will continue to set my eyes upon a brighter future where I can expand health care coverage and take care of patients in Stockton, especially in the southern districts.

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Bryan Elsea
APIASF/BBCN Bank Scholarship
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Institution: University of Washington
Major: Anthropology

The power of mana, a wide form of spiritual energy from Pacific Islander cultures, is not within me alone. The power of mana is shared within my community, my family, my school, and my culture. As a student leader and community advocate, I am honored to receive the APIASF/BBCN Bank Scholarship, which underscores the continued support my community provides to me. Now I can continue to focus on what I love to do best: Learn and give back to my community.

I was raised single-handedly by my mother after my father's death when I was in elementary school. With no other family members to connect with, I began to assist my mother in reading and filling out forms and performed other major tasks. My mother and I held extra responsibilities in order to sustain our small household. During a financial crisis in my junior year of high school I felt compelled to support my family financially. I had to work to earn money. Nevertheless, I did not let our hardship affect how I do school work and activities. I served several years in campus-wide Associated Student Body Government leadership positions and mentored freshmen at TEC High school. I then became an ethnographer for New Islands United (NIU) Roots, a local Pacific Islander dance group best known for its work in the Seattle Theatre Group. Through my participation in these activities, I developed self-efficacy and a deep appreciation for my community, my culture and my family.

My experience overcoming the adversities helped me gain confidence in pursuing a rigorous education after high school. I am eager to learn how to better the lives of people in my community, especially after I finish my undergraduate degree, and plan to pioneer diversity curriculum for America's public schools. Higher education equips me with the knowledge and skills I can use to be successful in giving back to and supporting my community. I am double-majoring in Anthropology and Sociology because I love to study the people, cultures and social institutions that characterize my community. I hope to return to my community as a social science educator, because I know that students, especially young students of color, will make a greater impact on their communities.

Higher education is important for leveling the playing field in our society, especially for Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Your contributions help make my goals of being an educator more reachable. As a first generation (and the only) student in my family to go to college, I feared of being left alone in navigating an unpredictable college environment. My new partnership with the APIASF/BBCN Scholarship program tells me and my family, "I can do it!" and that I am not alone in this journey. Thank you, APIASF and BBNC Bank for supporting my undergraduate education.

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Hongji Chen
APIASF/ ETS Scholarship
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Institution: Drexel University
Major: Computer Engineering

Hello, my name is Hongjie Chen and I am currently a Computer Engineering student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and attended Northeast High School. I am currently working as a Network Engineering Intern at SAP in Newtown Square. I'm hoping to graduate with an accelerated master's degree in Computer Engineering. My hobbies includes tennis, powerlifting, cycling, and cooking, cooking being my favorite. Fun fact, I take culinary arts classes at Drexel University and going to get a minor in Culinary Arts. I am motivated to grow the Asian community in Philadelphia and help move our society forward.

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Man Lun
APIASF/FedEx Scholarship
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Institution: Texas Christian University
Major: Engineering

I was born in the Chin State of Burma, and my school experience during my early years was very difficult because we had to pay tuition to attend school and my family was very poor.

When I arrived in the United States, I started the ninth grade. This is when my school experience changed my life. The opportunities I was given to pursue classes that I was interested in was a welcome change from my experience in Burma. My love of math and chemistry is what makes me want to be a chemical engineer. I have taken as many Advanced Placement and honors classes as possible since my sophomore year. I also joined a club called Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), because I know that this club can help me in my future career. In summary, the obstacle of my childhood in Burma has been overcome by taking advantage of all the opportunities that I have been given in the United States.

My dream is to become a chemical engineer. I have always loved math, chemistry and engineering classes and I want to continue to learn and incorporate them into everyday life, especially to help facilitate a better way of life for people struggling with poverty. I believe that acquiring a degree in chemical engineering is the best way to use my talent and abilities to serve people. My dream is to work alongside doctors to provide medicine to the poor and bring filtration systems to communities, which would greatly reduce disease and improve their quality of life.

I want to thank the FedEx Company for awarding me this scholarship. My family was very excited. My mom cried when she heard about it. She and my father made many sacrifices to give me the chance at a good education. This scholarship is a blessing for them as much as it is for me. I pledge to use my education to make the world a better place. With a higher education, I will be able to help America and my home country of Burma more than I could without it. Thank you so much for your support.

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Kevin Xiong
APIASF/General Mills Foundation Scholarship
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Institution: Macalester College
Major: Education

"I am honored to be a General Mills Foundation Scholarship recipient through the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years. As a low-income, first-generation college student, the generosity of the APIASF/General Mills Foundation Scholarship will help me continue my higher education attainment. My parents came to the United States as Hmong refugees and were not able to pursue a higher education because of the needs and wants of their seven children. This scholarship does not only go to help my personal dream, but the dreams my parents had and continue to sacrifice. I hope to come back to my hometown community as an educator and role model for low-income, students of colors to know that there are people who share similar backgrounds as them in higher education and to encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Becoming an educator is important to me because I could not answer the question "Name a teacher that has impacted your life" until college. I believe this is due to the lack of teachers that share similar background and ethnicity as me in the Minneapolis Public School district. I have had great teachers in school, but none have become someone who I look up to as a role model. I want to be that for future Minneapolis students. I will return to the Twin Cities and work in the public schools systems in which I was brought up. I will be able to motivate and inspire those that are like myself to pursue college. Since many teachers in urban schools do not share the same experiences as their students, I will have an advantage in understanding their circumstances. This will allow me to guide them through their struggles with education and in society.

Coming back to my community is important because being a low-income student from a place where teens are considered "up to no good" like North Minneapolis, people do not necessarily expect students like me to succeed. After my enrollment to Macalester College, gasps are the common responses whenever I tell them. It was as if they could not possibly understand how a student from a North Minneapolis public school got accepted into the reputable Macalester College. I try not to internalize these comments and make it known that I belong at this college. I do not want my story to be a success story, but a common story: a story where success is expected.

Even though my parents came to this country as refugees and are labeled as low-income, they have been able to support five of my older siblings and I in college and continue to do so. The results of these societal labels have further driven my goals to finish college and come back to Minneapolis to teach. I want students who I share a personal background with to know that they can go to college and become successful and to not let negativity deter them from their goals and dreams."

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Nhi Do
APIASF/Hong Kong Chapter Scholarship
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Institution: Southern Methodist University
Major: Business Administration

"Emigrating took a hefty toll on my mother, both physically and mentally. She had to work tirelessly to earn money just to put food on the table every night. It took a lot of time and effort but eventually my mother had the opportunity to open her own business. Through the values of hard work, sheer determination, and from the love and support from her family, my mother achieved success. It is through these values that I've based my life and formed my personal aspirations in the hopes that I too will be successful.

I grew up in an environment drastically different from my mother's. The United States is abundant with opportunities and rich in resources for individuals to pursue their own passions and careers. However, despite the fortunate life that I now live, my childhood was not by any means easy.

My mother had her own way of loving that she demonstrated through harsh reprimands and judgmental words. She was very strict and wanted me to always give my best and be the best in school. She stressed and engrained in me the idea that hard work, and only hard work, results in happiness and prosperity in life. The only long-term extracurricular activity I was allowed to be involved in was playing the piano. My mother believed playing the piano would help discipline me and teach me how to be calm and collected unlike other kids my age who were rambunctious and always getting into mischief. It was a challenge to stay focused, but as I grew up, I understood why my mother raised me the way that she did.

I realized I wanted to be a wedding planner during my sophomore year of high school. The characteristics of a successful wedding planner include the ability to pay attention to fine details while seeing the bigger picture, and staying calm and collected during times of stress among other things. In the wedding planning field, I am able to utilize what my mother and her tough love drilled in me my entire life. It is a profession that honors the rigor of the business world, the passion for helping others, and the perseverance of an individual who can think outside the box to overcome his or her challenges.

I'd like to thank APIASF and the Hong Kong Chapter for supporting my journey into the business world. I am truly honored to receive this scholarship and I implore others to take advantage of this amazing program and to never stop working hard for their dreams."

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Abi Acharya
APIASF/Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Institution: University of Maryland, College Park
Major: Computer and Information Systems

"I was born and raised in a refugee camp in Nepal. I lived in the camp for 11 years. Life in camp was very difficult, full of suffering and struggles. Living conditions were very worst. Camp was crowded with thieves, crimes, and violence. My family was very poor, our house was made of bamboo and mud. Electricity, heaters, air conditioners, and computer technologies were unheard of in the camp. Foods, clothes, and healthcare were limited. Education were limited. My parents never had the opportunity to go to school. It was hard for me to learn and get a good education. My parents wanted to see me become successful, but there were no such opportunities for a student like me in Nepal. I finally came to the United States in 2009, hoping for the better life conditions and bright future.

In the United States, my new life was amazing, but I faced many problems when it came to adjusting to a new culture, the environment, and the American school system. My parents did not speak any English. I spoke limited English. I had to support my parents and my siblings in understanding English. In addition, I had to work hard to achieve success in my academic career. I learned to be a strong English speaker and worked in a variety of community service activities with my friends and family members. I stayed after school to get help in understanding and mastering topics that I learned in class and homework. I also joined many clubs and activities. Still today, I am using all the resources and opportunities to be an outstanding student and to be able to attend and excel in college.

One of my dream is to go to a prestigious college and to complete my college education successfully with a degree on computer science or engineering field. The main reason I want to go to college is to fulfill my parents' dream and to obtain my degree and start working in profession that I genuinely love. I want to have a strong career and be able to take care of my family and the environment. The things that I have seen in my life have had a strong impact on my desire to attend college. I will work hard every day to achieve my goals. I believe that if I work hard, stay focused, and strive for what I believe in, I will be rewarded with a fulfilling life, and I am excited to make that happen.

I would like to thank APIASF/Coca-Cola Foundation for considering and providing me with this scholarship. This award will bring great support in achieving my dreams and goals. It will be a big help for me and my parents. It will take away the burden of financial costs from my parents head. It will add strength to my motivation and inspires me to work hard in college. I hope it will help me to succeed as a great student and further my college education."

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Gregory Cruz
APIASF/Las Vegas Community Scholarship
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Institution: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Major: Dentistry

As an incoming college student, I already knew that the financial aspect would be a hindrance. While I was working at my job as a lifeguard, I received an e-mail regarding my scholarship notification. This is where I broke down in tears of joy in front of my co-workers and boss while they congratulate me. Knowing that the scholarship would help alleviate the financial burden that we face at home already, I can focus on my studies without working. My parents who were born from the Philippines came to America to give their children a better life. During the process, they sold newspaper in the city until they were able to buy a one-way ticket to the states. While growing up, I was taught to be grateful and resilient. Thus, I worked hard during my high school education and give back to my local hospital that I volunteered for 3 years. In my collegiate studies, I will be attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in Biology. After obtaining this degree, I plan on going to Dental School to become an Orthodontist. My high school has a dental program where we were able to learn the daily tasks/procedures that would be done at a dentist office. In addition, we were given opportunities to do an internship outside of school. Personally, I had 3 internships while juggling schoolwork and clubs. My time as an intern taught me that specializing in Orthodontics is the career that I am willing to work for and make it happen. I would like to thank APIASF for giving me this opportunity to follow my dreams. With the help and support from this organization, I hope to help others pursue their goals no matter how big nor small. As I start my career, not only do I want to give my patients a beautiful smile but give them the advice that you must work hard to reach your dreams.

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Ronell Sueno
APIASF/Duncan and Irene Lee Scholarship
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Institution: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Major: Athletic Training

As a kid I was expected to be a great student and become a doctor like any other Filipino parent. I didn't really understand why I was the one to be the expected doctor of the family, it was always "Ronell, you're going to take care of me in the future right?" So I would always agree. But deep down I wanted to do something I was happy with doing. I want to go into a field of study that will make me want to work there, and that can keep me afloat for my needs. That passion I found in myself was revealed when I watched sports, especially in the NBA, so many players get injured. They work hard to rehabilitate and train with athletic trainers. They give them the hope of being able to play again and that is really amazing to me. I want to be able to help people through my passion for sports and players who love the game as much I do. Getting a job with the Los Angeles as part of their training team is my dream. It starts out with baby steps, first I will go to UNLV for my undergrad study. Then I must apply for the athletic training program they have there. It will take a lot of sacrifice from my social life, but in order to attain my goals in life there will be have to sacrifices made for your education. Ultimately getting that degree will be all worth it in the end knowing I got to the place I dreamed of. For now, I am focusing on my grades and test (SAT and ACT) before anything else. Graduating is the first step towards my journey in the future. After I get to the top of my career goals I plan to first and foremost give back to my family. They are my support system, my blood, bones, and advice center. A thank you is needed for people keeping me on track and supporting me through the whole process. As I get to the top, I would have met many people that probably would have affected in my life in a positive way. I plan on being able to give them care with the knowledge I will have learned by that time. Being able to care for patients by visiting them at their homes would bring a really big smile to my face. Ultimately I want to help a lot more people than just my community. I plan to start a clinic for the ones that are in poverty and cannot afford to be taken into healthcare. Being an athletic trainer incorporates with my plan as well. I want to get little kids active by playing sports and games. Some kids do not have that opportunity to show their talent of being great or special in their own way. Everyone should be given the time, effort, and care into them. You never know the potential our future holds if we don't give them the chance. I want to be able to have a "day of play" where awareness for activity is needed for children to be able to be kept healthy and have their bones and joints kept moving. So now that kids are being kept active in my community and are able to forget about their harsh lives for a little, it will give them hope to pursue higher things in life knowing there is someone that cares for them. Knowing where I came from and who gave me the extra boost and extra confidence to succeed is very important to me. It is a responsibility of mine to give back to those people and communities because they are the ones that helped me get there. Whether it was a teacher, family member, mentor, or even just a friend I made in class. I want to be able to take each and every person that touched my life to dinner. Getting to reminisce and catch up with these people hopefully would make both of us happy. Thank you to the APIASF association for awarding me with the APIASF/Duncan and Irene Lee Scholarship I a truly honored and gracious for this scholarship to help start my dreams. This award will go a long ways for everything in my future. When I found out I was chosen I was so excited that I had to run and tell everyone in my family. Everyone was so happy for me to see my hard work pay off.

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Norani Abilo
APIASF/NFTA Scholarship
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Institution: Pomona College
Major: Biology/Chemistry

"Poverty" is a familiar word to me; by standard definitions, I am poor. And yet I don't feel poor. Growing up in a one bedroom, low-income apartment with a single, immigrant mother who, as a housekeeper, toils and sacrifices for me, life is difficult. While friends often travel to lavish places, I work 40 hours a week at the movie theater on top of my internship. My socio-economic standing brings out my insecurities among friends; but I realize that such barriers push me to work for better opportunities. My life has deepened my maturity, resiliency, and strength. Some people may see my limitations as adversities, however I view them as gifts. With this mindset, I commit to service and involvement within my community, church, and school. I focus my time on giving back to the community that helped raise me and provide me with opportunities unimaginable to others with a similar background. My background defines who I am and rather than looking at it negatively, I'm proud of who I have become and where I come from. I no longer view my experiences as deterrents, but as catalysts in my life.

In terms of my future goals, I hope to pursue a career in Forensic Pathology and/or Toxicology. While this occupation can be both emotionally and physically draining, I'm interested in the field because I'm eager to take on an important and responsible role and inclined to work for the betterment of my community and the world. Aside from a sincere longing to help and bring justice to those affected by criminal activity, I am greatly interested in how science can answer the "how's" and "why's" of life. To achieve this goal, I plan to major in Biology or Chemistry and eventually attend medical school.

Through my experiences growing up and the aspirations I have developed, I was fortunately offered admission to Pomona College in Claremont, California. Being in one of the nation's most highly regarded colleges, I know I can better achieve my dreams. Furthermore, I am so thankful to have been awarded the APIASF/NFTA-USA Toyota Giving Circle Project Scholarship. I am so fortunate to receive a scholarship that will open doors to newer and greater opportunities. I greatly appreciate the support and recognition the donors have given me. Not only will this scholarship and the opportunities it brings drive my passion and dedication in school, but also aid in building characteristics valuable to myself. I am beyond excited to know that I will achieve my career goals and extend my intellectual development through my college and the APIASF/NFTA-USA Toyota Giving Circle Project Scholarship.

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Madeleine Rose Holler
APIASF/NBC Universal Scholarship
Hometown: El Mirage, AZ
Institution: Arizona State University
Major: Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've always been someone motivated to reach her dreams and goals despite the obstacles I may face along the way. Coming from a low income family, I understand the need to invest in your future regardless of the financial hardships one may face in pursuing their goals. Whether it be desired extracurricular activities or college classes, finances usually play a very important factor in allowing one the opportunity to participate. Whether it be through fundraising or working a part time job to become more financially independent, I have never let finances play a role in deteriorating my desire to make my goals a reality. I've strived to make every second count and take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way. With that, I'm proud to have graduated high school as class Valedictorian, a distinguished Grand Canyon Diploma Recipient, President of Student Council and National Honor Society, a Maricopa Community College full-time concurrent student with a 4.0 GPA, and Miss North Phoenix under the Miss America Organization with a service platform of "Supporting Our Nation's Military and Their Families".

Being a first generation college student, achieving a higher education has always been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. I have worked countless hours in and out of school to maintain my academic standing, always keeping my future in mind. In the Fall of 2015, I was admitted into my top school of choice, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Additionally, I was accepted into the Barrett Honors Program, which I will take part in during my time at ASU. After being a 6 year radio show host in Phoenix, AZ, I was inspired to earn my BA in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communication and minor in Public Relations and Strategic Communications. This was a major stepping stone in my academic career and it goes to show that with hard work and perseverance, the sky is the limit. I'm incredibly excited to be continuing my education in a field I am truly invested in.

I appreciate the opportunity to receive the APIASF/NBC Universal Scholarship as this will assist me in obtaining my degree at ASU. This scholarship is especially humbling to receive, as it is encourages the journalist I am becoming. Many thanks to APIASF and NBC Universal for believing in individuals such as myself who are dedicated to their education and most importantly, their futures.

At the end of the day, the struggles I have faced have only made me stronger, more determined, and ever so grateful. I'm proud to have accomplished so much in my life thus far and it is my hope that I can inspire others to persist just as I have.

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Sidney Wong
APIASF/Southern California Edison STEM Scholarship
Hometown: Monterey Park, CA
Institution: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Major: Engineering

I just wanted to thank you very much for awarding me with the APIASF/Southern California Edison STEM Scholarship.

Since I have started my college journey, I am classified as a first generation college student of my family, mainly because I'm the first in my family to attend college. I am the eldest child. Because my parents never received higher education or a college degree, they often struggle in finding a job to put food on the table, putting me at a financial disadvantage. This led me to take on three jobs while I was in high school so that I can contribute to putting food on the table along with making investments on basic necessities and resources so that I can move forward with my education. Another problem I faced as a child with parents who do not have college experience, I have to point myself in the right direction. My parents cannot tell me what to expect because they never went through it. Thankfully, I signed up for programs at school such as Educational Opportunity Program, Multicultural Engineering Program, and much more where I can be paired with a mentor. As a person, I have always shy. However, I have dealt with it by joining clubs such as Chinese Cultural Club and becoming the Vice President of the club to put me out there to face my fears. In the past, I took officer positions in high school clubs but now, it's a bit different in that there are a more variety of people.

After dealing with my problems, I have become a hard worker compared to my past self. I've grown to become more independent. Through the barriers that I went through, I learned many lessons of problem solving. Now, I try to solve problems myself before going to others for help when needed. In the past, I always thought that things would never get better, but today, I see my past experiences as something I go through to make me a stronger, optimistic person I am today. Today, I feel more capable of experiencing situations that are hard to resolve.

Problem solving skills is crucial for engineers. I have always loved cars for as long as I can remember and dreamed of becoming a mechanic but during high school, I felt like I wanted to do something more than just repairing cars. I wanted to create innovations, which is why I want to become a mechanical engineer. Ideally, I would like to work in an automotive company. However, I would be completely content working in an electronics company, but any other job that relates to designing parts would make me happy. This scholarship will definitely assist me in reaching those types of careers,

As a low-income, first generation student, this scholarship helps my family support me financially. I feel very grateful to APIASF/Southern California Edison STEM Scholarship for being able to help me financially. Every bit of help I receive will go into my education.

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Moet Takata
APIASF/TAAP (A Toyota Giving Circle) Scholarship
Hometown: Torrance, CA
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Major: Biology

I was recently asked what my greatest high school achievement was, and I didn't think about my grades or marching band accomplishments or volunteer experiences. These things were all very important, but the main reason that I was accomplished in them was because of what I consider my greatest achievement: I learned how to speak up for myself.

As a child, I was extremely shy and insecure. I never spoke up for myself, and let people walk all over me. I made friends who pushed me around, but never had the courage to leave them. But with a little guidance from my dad, I learned to do what makes me happy.

Learning how to balance my own needs with others' needs helped me gain confidence. Inside the classroom, I broke my vow of silence, and started to participate in class discussions; and I realized that I was good at it. The classmates who used to describe me as "quiet" started to describe me as "quiet and says smart things sometimes." By opening up in the classroom, I found a passion for life science and astronomy, and the confidence to pursue them.

I started to open up more outside of the classroom as well. In the marching band, I started as the girl who never spoke, to the point where some people thought I just couldn't speak English. But now, those people are some of my closest friends. I've become the upperclassman who can encourage the younger kids while also keeping them in line. As a freshman, I would never have fathomed that I could become that person.

I also started to take initiative in volunteer activities. I volunteered for Camp Escapades, knowing that I wouldn't know anyone there. That would have terrified younger me, but I ended up actually enjoying interacting with new people and the young campers.

Don't get me wrong; meeting new people is still nerve-wracking for me, but I always feel so proud of myself afterwards. So I'm excited for college, where I will be able to meet people who I haven't known since elementary school, and build up my confidence. And if I ever start losing confidence and begin doubting myself, I can remind myself that my younger self would have admired the person I was today.

So I would like to thank APIASF and A Toyota Giving Circle Project for this scholarship that will contribute to my college experience. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to move towards becoming a person that my present self would admire.

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Scarlet Yi Jun Chen
APIASF/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship
Hometown: Saipan, MP
Institution: Northern Marianas College
Major: International Relations

My name is Scarlet Yi Jun Chen. I was born during one of the most devastating typhoons on Saipan on November 3, 1997, and my single mother nearly perished by laboring for three straight days to give birth to me. The land whence I was born and raised is different from USA as a whole. Saipan, in Northern Mariana Islands, is a multicultural island with no clear majority population; it is a mix of everywhere.

At a young age, it was difficult for me to understand why my mother had such high expectations for me, and I felt pressured. I have go to school and keep up my grades, and right after school I have to go to work until 10:00 at night. I have no social life, because I'm already struggling to balance my school and workload. Sometimes I would look at my classmates and wish that my life was less stressful like theirs. However, every time I looked at my mom, I would become strong again. I am my mother's only hope and shoulder to lean on, and I am determined to let my mother live a comfortable life.

I have learned to run a household, to assist my mother with her work, and to live within my means. I am at the top of my class and have outstanding comments from my mentors. This has led me to receive many awards. I have represented Saipan many times to compete nationally in the United States. I have had five varied leadership roles, served over 1,000 volunteer hours, and have had outstanding extracurricular activity experiences. All the money I have earned from my job is given to my mother, because I owe everything to her. My mother taught me that money does not come easily and that every penny has its purpose. I will be the first generation to pursue a college degree from my family. Today, I can say that I'm proud of myself for being mature at such a young age and for understanding that the hardships in life only make me a better person. However, I am most proud of my mother for always being my hero and for guiding me onto the right path in life.

My career goal is to major in international relations and to work in the diplomatic service. International relations is a great passion for me, for it combines political science, economics, history, foreign languages, and other fields that makes the field interesting and challenging at the same time. I plan to impact my community by being a ladder of communication to the world and by bringing the voices of minority places such as my island home and other minority locations in this world to greater recognition. Thank you very much APIASF/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship for granting me this scholarship, it is such a huge blessing and contribution for my educational and career goal. This helping scholarship will go a long way for me.

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Julie Hong Nhi Nguyen
APIASF/Toyota Scholarship
Hometown: Westminster, CA
Institution: University of Southern California
Major: Engineering

Hello! For those who don't know me, my name is Julie Nguyen, and I am from the small city of Westminster, California. Throughout my educational career, I faced many tribulations regarding my financial state and my identity. Both of my parents are of the age to retire, so the only income coming into the household are government funds and aid, making it increasingly difficult for me to exploit the resources that have been offered to me, such as prep classes and tutoring. Because I was not able to have the same opportunities that many of my peers had, I had to persevere through the long days of school and practicing and the long nights of studying and tenaciously held on to my dreams and passions of pursuing a higher education. To help alleviate my parents from some of the financial burden, I also recently found a job as a tutor to financially support myself. Despite these setbacks, I was able to succeed in my educational career, shaping my hard working and persevering character. As a teenager, one of the many life questions we begin to face is the question of our identity. The pressuring standards from both society and my culture tried to carve me into a stereotypical woman who is perceived as inferior and incompetent. However, my involvement in many leadership activities, such as Girls' League, Big Brother Big Sister, and the Tet Parade Volunteer Committee, festered the leader in me and contributed greatly to my head fast and strong willed personality.

Through my struggles, I have learned that your will is your strength. Though you may have setbacks in life, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll be setback forever. These struggles helped me shape my goal of pursuing a higher education and becoming an engineer despite the struggle I may face due to my financial background and my gender. By becoming an engineer, I hope to contribute to the solutions that we as a generation will have to have in order to preserve our life on Mother Earth. My struggles also shaped my goal of breaking gender stereotypes. The label women face due to their gender hinders many women from pursuing their dreams. I want to be able to become someone that is notable to break free from the stereotype bestowed upon me.

I am beyond thankful for being chosen as one of the recipients of the APIASF/Toyota Scholarship. My gratitude for this scholarship cannot simply be expressed in words, therefore, I hope to thank the donors of this scholarship by showing them just who they helped me become. My family, having 4 other older children other than I, have always struggled financially, always scraping by when we needed to make a big financial investment, such as a car or college. Therefore, when I saw the notification of this scholarship in my email, I was ecstatic to be able to ease the burden on my family about this financial investment. Thank you, APIASF and Toyota, for placing your bet on me.

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Stella Kyu
APIASF/United Health Foundation Scholarship
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Institution: University of California, Bakersfield
Major: Nursing

I am beyond blessed to be a recipient for the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship. I was first afraid to open the email because I wasn't sure whether I made it to the next level. Considering how many students have applied, I didn't have high hopes for myself. However, when I saw "Congratulations" on the top of the page, I couldn't believe my eyes. I was overjoyed. My family and friends are so happy for me. I truly appreciate APIA-SF for selecting me and one of the recipient. With this scholarship, I would be able to continue with my education and pursue my career to make a difference in people's lives. I migrated to the United States when I was 10 years old. With a language barrier and cultural differences, I had difficulties adapting into the new country. I couldn't speak English fluently nor was brave enough to socialize with others. However, I did not let these obstacles define me. Slowly, I learned to accept the differences and challenge myself. I decided to join clubs in high school, participate in many activities and even run for the student body. As time progresses, I was able to come out of my shell and continue to learn new things. Given the opportunity to come to America and live a better, fearless life, I am able to see the world in a whole new level. Although I'm living the normal, perfect life, where I don't have to worry about a roof under my head, living a perfect life is not why I am here for. With a free education and many opportunities given, I want to take this chance and get the best out of. My mission to come to America was to learn and get a higher education. My goal after I graduate high school is to attend a four year university and work diligently in order to be accepted into the school's competitive nursing program, and I am actively pursuing to be the first in my family to attend a university. I desire to attain a career as a nurse because my passion has always been to assist others. To overcome these challenges, I will be dedicated to studying and maintain good grades in order to get accepted into the nursing program. I know my passion for helping people will allow me to overcome these struggles. My ultimate goal is to help my community in medical assistance and help refugees around the world. Throughout my career path as a nurse, I would like to establish a school back in the villages of Burma and educate teenagers who are interested in the medical field. I am committed to working hard so that my goals will turn into reality and that I will go back to my home country and unlock the doors of the helpless.

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