NWAW’s Outstanding Graduates — Part 3

Compiled by staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

At the end of each school year, we run this column, which features some exceptional Asian American students who have made the most of their high school careers, whether it’s through academics, volunteer work, artistic endeavors, or athletics.

Future teacher

Vincent Pham

“For the past three years, I have been a part of a grassroots Vietnamese community event where we hold an annual dinner and entertainment night to raise funds for a village in Hue, Vietnam. Since many of the community members (including my father) came from Hue, it holds a lot of meaning for them. The actual use of these funds varies, from helping the typhoon disaster victims in 2009, to even funding for a new temple. …

“I will continue to work to improve my ties to my community by joining the Vietnamese Student Association, where I can work for the interests of the Vietnamese students attending the University of Washington. …

“Due to my academic success in both AP classes and the Running Start dual college and high school credit program, I will enter the University of Washington as a sophomore, and depending on how I do on this year’s AP tests, I could potentially even enter as a junior. From there, I will major in English and history, with a minor in psychology, in hopes of being the best possible teacher I can be.”

— Vincent Pham, graduate of Woodinville High School with a 3.83 GPA, will attend the University of Washington

For the children

Sarah Tu

“When people asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I’ve always answered doctor. For the past two years, I have been a volunteer at Swedish Hospital. I love the connections I make with patients in a hospital, the appreciation in simple gestures like delivering a glass of water or spreading a warm blanket over the patient. I am also the secretary of the Childhaven Youth Board. The Youth Board helped to raise over $6,000 in order to help abused and neglected children in the greater Seattle area.

“These activities have helped me realize my passion for health science, and I hope to become a pediatrician after I graduate from the University of Washington.

“I also traveled to Vietnam for the first time and volunteered at Duc Son Orphanage in Hue. It was an amazing experience working with these poor children. I got to practice my Vietnamese, and it also instilled a humility and gratitude for my life here in Seattle. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and I am indebted to the wonderful family and community that helped me become so successful today. In the future, I hope that I can give back to that community and do some good for the world.”

— Sarah Tu, graduate of Roosevelt High School with a 4.0 GPA, will attend the University of Washington


Pei Wen (Mandy) Xiong

“I am a shy person, and it has always been difficult for me to adapt to new environments. Transitioning from China to the United States was especially difficult for me because it was my first time being exposed to a culture other than my own and an entirely new language. …

“I attended my first day of school in Springfield, Mo. Growing up, I had always gone to school with people who looked like me, sounded like me, and dressed like me, but here, I quickly learned I was a minority. … My stomach again filled itself with nausea.

“The rest of that day went like hell for me.

“In school, I tried my best to learn English. In my mind, learning good English was my responsibility because I am the only child in my family. I brought an electronic translator to class to check for every unknown vocabulary word. I made a new list of words every day to memorize at home. I tried to communicate with my classmates as much as possible, even though I still hadn’t developed the friendships I wished to get. I stayed after school three days a week to be tutored by teachers on the things I missed. At home, I sometimes spent five hours to finish my homework.

“Toward the end of the eight months, my parents decided to move to Seattle, where we could be close to the rest of the family. I remember being hugged goodbye by every classmate as they wished me good luck. My teacher gave me my unbelievable progress report with five A’s.”

— Pei Wen (Mandy) Xiong, graduate of Roosevelt High School with a 3.7 GPA, will attend the University of Washington

Major league dreams

Aleyna Yamaguchi

“My goal for the future is to major in international business and minor in Japanese. I hope to become a manager or recruiter for Japanese baseball players aspiring to play Major League Baseball here in the United States.

“I love to learn new languages. I have taken Japanese, Chinese, and Korean lessons throughout high school. I also enjoy volunteering for the Northwest Asian Weekly Youth Board as secretary, the Renton Youth Council as vice principal, and also at the Regional Animal Services of King County. …

“I have also gotten four varsity letters for gymnastics, as well as being captain for two years.”

— Aleyna Yamaguchi, graduate of Lindbergh High School with a 3.79 GPA, will attend the University of Washington

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