2016 AANAPISI Scholar Profiles


Maria Christine Castro
APIASF/Coca-Cola AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: Saipan, MP
Institution: Northern Marianas College
Major: Elementary Education

My name is Maria Christine C. Castro and I am the daughter of contract workers on the small island of Saipan located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Growing up with low-income parents who valued their child's future, I was raised to take my education seriously and never for granted. Both my mother and father are my inspirations and blessings as they have been my number one supporters throughout my academic career. They are the reasons I value the awards I received and the accomplishments I achieve. They never get tired of telling me: "They are the reminders of all my hard work and effort." Till this day, their words are engraved deeply into my heart and I believe them with every fiber of my body. It was thanks to all my hard work, effort, dedication, and perseverance that I was able to graduate high school as Marianas High School's Top 9th student out of 320 students for the graduating class of 2016. Fast forward to now, I can proudly say that because I worked hard, gave all my efforts, completely dedicated myself, and persevered through the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund application, I was given the honor of being the recipient of the APIASF/Coca-Cola Foundation AANAPISI Scholarship. As the first student in my family to reach college, it is vital for me to reach my goal of becoming an Educator, so that my younger siblings can be inspired to reach their dreams as well by going to college. At a young age, I knew that money did not grow on trees. You have to earn everything you are given. Because of this, I started doing small jobs during my freshman year in high school and throughout the following years till graduation. Through my experiences, I learned the value of a dollar and how to properly budget my expenses between my wants and my needs. It was a difficult experience back then due to the fact that a lot of the money I earned was to help feed myself and my younger siblings as my parents worked to pay the bills. Receiving this scholarship will be a big boost for me and my family financially as instead of worrying for my college expenses, they can continue to focus of putting my two younger siblings through Middle and High school. I would like to express my sincere and deepest gratitude towards APIASF and the Coca-Cola Foundation AANAPISI Scholarship for believing that I deserved to be a recipient of the scholarship I have been awarded. I am certain others that received the scholarship are as grateful as I am to receive such an amazing opportunity.


Sirina Hua
APIASF/General Mills AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Institution: South Seattle College
Major: Culinary Arts

I'll be majoring into the Pastry & Baking at South Seattle College. I've grown up in Washington my whole life. I am currently a full time mom and a student at the moment, planning to graduate in the field of Pastry & Baking. My goal in the future is to one day be able to open a shop after I gain a better set of skills and knowledge. I want the pastry I bake bring the community together to create a memorable delight. That morning as I was getting my son ready for school, I received an email stating that I've been chosen to receive a scholarship. I was surprised that this had happened to me. I've had a great deal of struggle over the years growing up and having my son at very young age. This was the first scholarship I've ever applied to and I felt like this is a fresh new start for me to move forward into my career. I'd like to thank APIASF and AANAPISI Scholarship for providing me with this award. I am truly honored and blessed to receive this scholarship to help start my dream.


Chyryll Crisologo
APIASF/Hilton Worldwide AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: Hagatna, GU
Institution: Guam Community College
Major: Hotel Management

Hafa Adai! A greeting I use often from a beautiful island I grew up in called Guam. I was raised in an old-fashion Filipino family, consisting of my parents and two brothers. Growing up in a Filipino family, education is a must for their children, especially when it comes to the medical field or being a teacher. To top it all, being the only daughter has its expectations so, the pressure was on. However, the fields did not interest me as much as the Tourism in Guam. During high school, that was when I found my stepping stone to my dream career. I was accepted into a three-year Certified Technical Education program, coincided with Guam Community College (GCC), called Lodging Management Program. During the program I did 270 hours of non-pay work experiences at a well-known hotel brand called Hilton Guam Resort and Spa. After graduation, I was hired from the company, which I am still currently in. Then, I knew to take it to the next step to my pyramid - college. I am a full-time, Hotel Operations Major at GCC. I am striving to become a Director of a Department within the hotel industry. Like mentioned, my parents' duty is to send their child to college, and by choice, I decided to take care of my education in my own hands; since it is my responsibility to my bright future. I knew college was not cheap and it would be a challenge to pay off every semester, but I found a way to help me. As an employee of Hilton, I became a Hotel Associate Apprentice under the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA). The apprenticeship program is a way to help students pay for their major classes and gain variety of work experiences with the company you are in. This is a win-win to growing in a company, however, there are limitations such as, paying only two major classes per semester. At that pace, it can slow me down on moving forward to the top of my pyramid. I would like to thank APIASF/Hilton Worldwide AANAPISI Scholarship for choosing me to be the recipient of this scholarship. This award brought me great joy due to the enormous support that will get me to the top of my pyramid. Soon enough, I will graduate in Fall 2018 with my Associate's Degree and my Apprenticeship with Hilton. Thank you again!!!!


Isaac Deonarine Jr.
APIASF/The Walt Disney Company AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: Queens, NY
Institution: Queens College, CUNY
Major: Mathematics

My name is Isaac Deonarine Jr. and I am a senior studying Applied Mathematics and Biology at Queens College in New York City. I am also a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, Golden Key International Honors Scholar, and now recipient of The Walt Disney Company/ APIASF Scholarship. At a young age my mother and grandmother instilled in me the importance of education, and I was inspired as a first-generation American to reach for the stars. They encouraged me to seek the opportunities not afforded to them in their home country of Guyana, and taught me that industriousness is the key to unlocking my potential. After a rigorous conservatory experience in fine arts education at Fiorello H. Laguardia High School, I moved on the pursue higher education at Queens College in New York City. During my time at Queens College, I was able to intern for Wildlife Conservation Society and 100 Resilient Cities, where I developed my passion for environmental conservation and public health. My long-term goals are multiple and varied, but sharing the common thread of making the world a more positive and healthy place to live. First, I have the goal of utilizing my degree, knowledge, and connections to have a significant impact on environmental sustainability and public health, which is why I am pursuing a career where I can conduct innovative and novel scientific research. Another ambition of mine is to open a gallery of original artwork that will address contemporary issues facing the world and potentially shape the future. I am honored and humbled to have been recognized by such a prestigious organization, and can only hope that my career reflects the mission of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to make a positive difference in people's lives and contribute to a more vibrant society.


Vester Robester
Hometown: Hilo, HI
Institution: University of Hawai'i at Hio
Major: Marketing

One thing I learned growing up in a Pacific Islander community is that our life-stories do not start with us and do not end with us. In this story, the chapter prior to mine began in a collective of islands in the South Pacific. My mother is Yapese, born and raised in the small village of Kanif on the island of Yap. My father is Pohnpeian and Kosraen, from the rock-island of Pohnpei. They later met in Hilo, Hawaii, where they searched for new opportunities and where I was also born. This chapter, my chapter, has been about navigation, trials and errors and new frontiers. Being born in Hilo, Hawaii, I moved at young age to San Jose, California. Though I showed promise in academics at a young age, I have always felt a glass ceiling in finding my place in education. This felt most pertinent when I entered higher education. During the first few years there was little direction and guidance, and I often felt lost navigating alone. I found myself settling in a routine of living the busy, city-life, with little certainty of what my next step was. During my junior college years, my interest in the nonprofit sector and Pacific Islander studies was sparked. After serving as a youth leader in an underserved community, I co-founded a nonprofit with peers to make a greater impact in the younger generation. Later, I worked with a start-up clothing company that focused on empowering the Pacific Islander community. Fast forward to this year, I am currently attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo attempting my bachelor's in Business Administration in Marketing and certificate in Pacific Islander studies with the goal to continue onto my masters and eventually return to the nonprofit sect afterwards. After graduation, I hope to start a nonprofit organization that promotes higher education in the South Pacific and creates a platform to communicate issues that affect Oceania. With UH Hilo having a strong support in Pacific Islander studies and an amazing business program, I realized it was an appropriate time to return. My hope is that I will become a stepping-stone for other Pacific Islander students who are seeking direction and support, and also succeed academically to one day become the financial relief for my parents as well. This part of the journey has been the most exciting yet, and I cannot wait to share more of how this scholarship and the APIASF organization have empowered me to make a greater impact.


Se Yang
APIASF/Walmart Foundation AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Institution: California State University, Sacramento
Major: Biology

My family immigrated to the United States in 2004. I was seven years old at the time. One of the challenges I faced when I came to America was not knowing any English, which put me at a disadvantage compared to other students. My parents could not help my siblings and I financially or give academic supports due to the fact that they never acquired any American education. I am the oldest of seven children and for that reason, my parents expected more from me. They encouraged me to be a good role model for my younger siblings, which is something I also wanted to be for my younger siblings. For that reason, I wanted to set a good academic standard for my younger siblings by pursuing higher education. Also as a Second-English speaker, I understand the difficulties and challenges many students faced. However, these challenges and difficulties helped me to become a determined and open-minded person. Therefore, I wanted to encourage students who faced a similar situation to pursue high education and help them to become successful in the future. My determination and commitment to my education and community brought me to California State University, Sacramento. CSU Sacramento has become the place where I can pursue my dreams and goals. I want to major in Biological Science with a concentration in Clinical Laboratory Science because my career goal is to become a Clinical Laboratory Scientist(CLS). I want to become a CLS because I realized that my Hmong community has many health problems, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, and due to their distrust of western medicine, they rely more on herbal medicines and religious beliefs. For that reason, I am motivated to continue my education and better my knowledge about health so that I can contribute my knowledge about modern treatments and medicines to my Hmong community as well as the APIA community as a whole. Moreover, I am proud to be the secretary of the Hmong Health Alliance Health Fair committees. Hmong Health Alliance Health Fair is a student run club at California State University, Sacramento with a mission of giving back to the underserved community. This gives me the opportunity to give back to my community by providing health services such as blood screening. I hope to use my knowledge, experiences and skills to improve the underserved community through work collaboration with other individuals who shared the same goal as I do, which is serving the underserved community.


Anh Phu
APIASF/Wells Fargo AANAPISI Scholarship
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Institution: City College of San Franciso
Major: Biochemistry

I'm 20 years old and currently studying Biochemistry with an intention to attend medical school after college. I'm a first-generation Vietnamese American immigrant. Moving to the U.S at such a young age is a challenge because it's hard to adapt to a new culture while trying to preserve your own. I think that I have successfully managed to interconnect between the society and my own personal background. Besides going to school, working, and handling family responsibilities, I also do a lot of extracurricular activities. I'm currently volunteering at a local hospital and doing some physical activities such as weightlifting, swimming, and playing badminton. I'm always looking to not only improve myself but also the lives of others.

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