Diversity Makes a Difference — Part 5

Compiled by Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

Northwest Asian Weekly’s Diversity Makes a Difference scholarship program celebrates young people who are committed to reaching out across cultural lines. Students are nominated by their school as being champions of diversity.

From among those students, a judging panel will choose five winners who will receive $1,000 scholarships and a number of finalists who will receive $200 scholarships. The Diversity Makes a Difference awards dinner will take place on March 30 at New Hong Kong Restaurant. To buy tickets, visit diversity.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org. Each week, leading up to the dinner, we will publish a batch of short profiles of the nominees, in no particular order.

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_cindy.jpgCindy Garrido
Senior at Olympia High School
Nominated by Matthew Grant

“Cindy joined STAND (Students Together Advocating Non-violence and Diversity),” wrote Olympia principal Matthew Grant in a letter of recommendation. “Cindy also volunteered as a student facilitator for our Community Café. … A primary goal is to reach out to families of color or other families who might not always feel included or represented at our school, which is a predominantly white school.”

Grant added, “Cindy took part in an Institute for Community Leadership workshop, where students studied the work of civil rights leaders and developed their own speeches to deliver in their communities. … This positive experience really inspired Cindy to take a major role with the local non-profit Village to Village. That year, Cindy was the primary student that organized a day of focus on Pacific Islanders. … This year, Cindy plans to lead an effort to sponsor a teach-in related to the banning of the Mexican American studies program in Tuscon, Ariz.”

Garrido wrote in her personal essay, “This year, an opportunity has come up where I will be working with teachers, students, Hispanic community leaders, and college professors to create an event where we will be educating our community on the issues the students in Tuscan are facing with their education at the moment. This issue is important to me, because I believe that everybody should have the opportunity to learn about where they come from.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_elias.JPGMargarita Elias
Senior at Squalicum High School
Nominated by Aramis Johnson

“As a sophomore, Margarita participated in a solidarity protest against immigration laws in Arizona. This coalition was formed from students from the various high schools in our area, and she boldly and proudly shouted out chants and created signs for our protest,” wrote Squalicum counselor Aramis Johnson. “During her junior year, she created, organized, and facilitated several multicultural events at Alderwood elementary.”

“Her vibrant personality, academic accomplishments, and leadership abilities is why she was selected to be the president of MEChA. … She stepped up as a leader and took charge of our events. … Her greatest accomplishment is not the MEChA events that she has participated in, rather her helping others to understand the importance of higher education. She has honestly saved lives and perhaps generations over the past two years.”

“When I think of diversity, I think about different people with different backgrounds, and usually people would point out something like their ethnic origin, but to me, it is much more than that,” Elias wrote in her personal essay. “People with different perspectives are able to see the world in other ways, and they are capable of making changes with their viewpoints.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_ian.jpgIan Kahng
Senior at Skyline High School
Nominated by Caroline Friesen

“Ian’s class decided to raise money for Heifer International by designing and selling t-shirts,” Caroline Friesen, a social studies teacher, wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Ian went above and beyond in this project. He was active in the design of the shirts, helped sell them, and he passionately educated his classmates about the lack of basic needs that many people in Sub-Saharan Africa endure.”

“One way that I have shared my background is by founding Korean Cultural Club at my school,” Kahng wrote in a personal essay. “I knew that my school was rich in culture, so I decided to share one culture that I knew best, my own. … I served as the president of this club, and I was able to participate in a variety of exciting and educational activities, such as the 2011 Skyline High School World Fair, where I was in charge of the Korean Culture booth. Over 300 people from the community stopped by to learn about Korean culture. …”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_sydney.jpgSydney Brovick
Senior at Interlake High School
Nominated by Scott Marcum

“Last year, Sydney founded a spirit organization at Interlake High School called Fan Club,” Interlake counselor Scott Markum wrote in a letter of recommendation.

“She has served as co-president of that club for the past two years and dramatically increased the involvement and support of her peers in school activities. … During her sophomore year, Sydney traveled to Denmark to study abroad for one semester.  … She also traveled to Berlin, Germany for a class study trip during her semester abroad that taught her a great deal about cultures different from her own.”

“After studying abroad for a year in Europe and visiting countries such as India and Mexico, which are so unlike my own, it is clear that experiencing diversity is one of the conditions for a better future on a global scale,” Brovick wrote in a personal essay. “I am fortunate enough also to attend a very diverse high school, where the minorities are now the majorities. Having the opportunity to engage with students of different backgrounds and develop strong friendships with them has shown me the importance of sharing the experience and joy of diversity with others.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_kevin.jpgKevin Pendilla
Senior at Squalicum High School
Nominated by Greg Newman

“Kevin consistently sets himself as a positive role model to other students,” Squalicum history teacher Greg Newman wrote in a letter of recommendation.

“Leadership emerges as another characteristic held by Kevin. For example, he initiated and led a break dancing club in our school, a novel skill in which Kevin excels. I also observed in my classes with Kevin that he functioned in leadership capacities in small groups.”

“With multicultural societies, people can see first hand that stereotypes of certain cultures aren’t true,” Pendilla, who is Filipino American, wrote in his personal essay. “For example, at my school, there are many Hispanic students. Through society and media, many Hispanics are seen as unintelligent, unable to speak English. … Being at my school with a diverse student population dispels the fact that any of those stereotypes aren’t true. … My experience is a small example why diversity is very important.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_alex.jpgAlexandra Hibbert
Senior at Redmond High School
Nominated by Shelley Zimmerman

“Prior to Alex’s arrival at Redmond High School, Alex had determined that there was no Black Student Union (BSU) in this predominantly white school,” Shelley Zimmerman, a teacher at Redmond High School, wrote in a letter of recommendation. “With her best friend, Alex founded and developed this club. …

These programs include developing a connection with the University of Washington Black Student Union and the African Student Union, designing and implementing fundraising for both the club and the Light Up Kenya program.”

Hibbert wrote in her personal essay, “I feel as though people abandon their inner identities when they become the minority of a community. … There weren’t that many minorities in our school to begin with, but many students of color were marking themselves down as ‘white’ on student records. This really bothered me. … With that goal in mind, I reestablished a proper Black Student Union, one that I hoped would achieve my goal of a united community.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_andrea.JPGAndrea Liu
Senior at Skyline High School
Nominated by Bobby Hinnenkamp

Bobby Hinnenkamp, Skyline school counselor, wrote in a letter of recommendation, “Andrea is the president and founder of the Chinese Cultural Club, National honor society tutor, and the co-founder and president of the Washington Association for Chinese Education (WACE), which is a non-profit organization aimed at generating interest in Chinese culture and increasing the number of Chinese programs in local schools.”

“Being a part of an interconnected, cross-cultural community inspired me to start and lead a school club, a nonprofit organization, a (now annual) community cultural expo, and a statewide Chinese initiative,” Liu wrote in a personal essay. “When I returned to the U.S. to begin high school, I noticed that only 22 public high schools in Washington offered Chinese. … Hoping to change the lack of Chinese programs at my school, I founded Chinese Cultural Club.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_ngozi.jpgNgozi Monu
Senior at Issaquah High School
Nominated by Todd Herd

“Ngozi is a co-president of our student mentor group, the Eagle Crew,” Issaquah counselor Todd Herd wrote in a letter of recommendation. “She is a member of our National Honor Society, where community service is a must.”

“Growing up, “the sky is the limit if you work hard” wasn’t just a saying, but the mantra I lived by every single day,” Monu wrote in a letter of recommendation. “I believed the mantra not because I heard it frequently, but because I saw my parents live it out. I was born in Nigeria, West Africa, at a time when the country was ruled by a military dictator. The impact of a military dictatorship negatively affected every area of life. Unfortunately, the subsequent democratic leadership did very little to fix the structural problems. At a young age, my parents packed up everything we had and moved my four siblings and me to the United States. The opportunities here were far greater than the ones we would have had in our native country. Although the transition was difficult, the challenges I overcame laid the foundation for my work ethic and strong desire to make a difference in my community.”

http://nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_11/diversity_katarina.jpgKatarina Nguyen
Senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School
Nominated by Katy Lam

“Katarina has been a strong advocate for Children’s Hospital Child Swim Safety and Drowning Prevention Program for the last six years,” wrote a Community Health Center of Snohomish County dentist Katy Lam. “[The program] focuses on educating minorities in the Seattle community about water safety. In 2007, Katarina took the initiative and asked to volunteer with me at Community Health Care Clinic, helping [minority] families in need.”

“Within my school, I’m the president of six clubs and officer of two,” Nguyen wrote in her personal essay. “As president of Mixed and Multicultural Club and Asian Connection Club, I coordinate cultural events, established a cultural newsletter, and coordinate several fundraisers for third world countries in poverty.”

“In my community, I work to help those who live in poverty, who often have limited opportunities, because it goes against our moral imperatives of maintaining a fair and balanced society,” added Nguyen. (end)

For more information, visit diversity.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org.

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