Diversity Makes a Difference — Part 3

Compiled by Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

The Northwest Asian Weekly’s Diversity Makes a Difference scholarship program celebrates young people who are committed to reaching across cultural lines. Students are nominated by their school for being champions of diversity. From those nominations, 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 28 at the New Hong Kong Restaurant. To buy tickets, visit diversity.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org. Each week leading up to the dinner, we will publish a selection of short profiles of the nominees, in no particular order.

Adriana Arteaga
Senior at Ballard High School
Nominated by Deborah Spiegelman

“Adriana is disciplined and hardworking,” Deborah Spiegelman, a bilingual instructional assistant, wrote. “Her perseverance has served her well, as has her ability to participate fully in the cultural and leadership opportunities offered by our program.”

“Although Adriana originally started school in the U.S. in ELL classes,” Spiegelman continued, “she was able to pass the requisite language test almost immediately upon starting high school. She has been determined to function in the academic mainstream, and she has required only the support of this program, while earning her credits in mainstream classes and preparing to graduate this June.”

In her essay, Arteaga wrote, “I think it means a lot that we make such a big effort to represent different cultures to the entire student body. Many of the students may not know very much about Latino cultures and traditions, but this yearly effort to display diversity in our school helps teach others about our culture and builds understanding of different backgrounds.”

Xahil McDonald
Senior at Chief Sealth High School
Nominated by Marta Sanchez

“Xahil is a talented young man with a generous kind spirit,” Marta Sanchez, an administrative assistant, wrote. “His character is reflected in his projects for the Unified Soccer Team at Chief Sealth International High School (CSI).”

“The CSI Unified Soccer Team began in 2010 for intellectually disabled students and their regular education peers,” Sanchez continued. “Xahil is the president of the Unified Sports Team and has been since 2010.  Being president involved setting up games, recruiting players, and overall motivation and direction of the program. This position introduced him to the Washington State Special Olympic Youth Activation Committee. He and 15 other students find ways for Unified teams to be included into school activities around the state.”

Rahwa Beyan
Junior at Edmond-Woodway High School
Nominated by Nancy Branom

“Rahwa is an outstanding student for a number of reasons,” wrote Nancy Branom, a teacher. “She is curious, well-read, enthusiastic, and is very respectful towards her peers and staff. Rahwa also has a good work ethic, and in this era of eroding civility, has excellent people skills, and is polite and engaging.”

“Outside of school, Rahwa is the president of the Snohomish County NAACP Youth Division,” Branom continued. “She was asked to organize a student-led performance for Black History month in which they presented a timeline of African American history through songs and spoken word. In addition, she started the ‘A Hand to Help’ club, whose focus is community service.”

In her essay, Beyan wrote, “To put my beliefs on diversity into a single sentence: Diversity is growth and diversity is a struggle because by surrounding yourself with foreign ideas, you learn more about yourself than you ever will.”

Veronica Sun
Senior at Foster Senior High School
Nominated by Jenni Matheny

“Veronica Sun, true to her name, illuminates the Foster High School community,” wrote Liz Hepner, a counselor. “Her spirit of optimism and school involvement strengthen and support the cohesion of our highly diverse Foster family. Veronica’s strong commitment to challenging academics, her participation in the volleyball and fast pitch softball teams since freshman year and varsity cheer squad for the past 2 years, along with her dedication to the national honor society and her guidance as an IGNITE peer mentor to freshmen students, are testaments to her leadership skills.”

“Veronica possesses an exceptional self-reliance,” Hepner continued. “She trusts herself. This is one reason why she will be an invaluable asset to any college community and future leadership opportunities. She gracefully balances intelligence, interest and compassion for others, and optimism and resilience in the face of great challenges.”

In her essay, Sun wrote, “America is becoming more diverse every day. As society is changing, so are the mindsets and social norms. Diversity is important to have because it opens you up to new outlooks on life. From experience, I know that working with others from different backgrounds made me see that to be successful, you need to collaborate and interlace yourself with other cultures. I don’t see America as one place for one group of people. I see it as a home for all. “

Lovely Shoecraft
Senior at Franklin High School
Nominated by Paul Kurose

“In my opinion, Lovely has great academic potential, not only in terms of her aptitude to achieve at the college level, but also her determination, commitment, and willingness to put in the time and effort to achieve at the highest level,” Paul Kurose, a math teacher, wrote.

“I can only express what I believe of her potential to learn and excel in advanced college-level mathematics, which is, I believe she has great potential to do so,” Kurose continued. “But I can say what I observed in terms of the character, desire, commitment, and work ethic needed to excel in college, which is, I have no doubt that she strongly possesses them all.”

In her essay, Shoecraft wrote, “Ultimately, diversity is important to me because it allows me to see and realize that we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but we all are ultimately striving for the success of our future.”

Brenda Robles
Senior at Highline High School
Nominated by Melinda Breeze

“I have known Brenda for four years now. She is a mature young woman who is quick on her feet, empathetic to others, curious about the world she lives in, and willing to take risks to improve herself and to help others,” wrote Eric Weiss, a teacher. “Brenda is both book and street smart and has used both of those intelligences to succeed at Highline High School.”

“Brenda has had to make difficult decisions in her young life, decisions that no teen should have to face, and these decisions have helped develop a strong sense of social justice,” Weiss continued.

In her essay, Robles wrote, “If it was not for the experiences I had growing up with people from different races, I would be close-minded and ignore people who look and act different than me. Experiencing diversity while growing up is crucial because people need to learn how to accept others who are different than them.”

Michelle Agcamaran
Senior at Holy Names Academy
Nominated by Megan Diefenbach

“Michelle has a simple innocence about her that I find refreshing, coupled with a very real sense of maturity that I know will serve her well as she graduates from HNA,” Megan Diegenbach, a college counselor, wrote.

“Her 97-year-old grandmother lives with her family, and Michelle credits her as a role model because she raised 10 children in the Philippines on her own as a poor woman with strong faith. Her parents want the best for their youngest child and are supportive of her college plans,” Diegenbach continued.

In her essay, Agcamaran wrote, “To me, diversity is akin to the keys of a piano. Each separate key produces its own sound just as every culture is unique. When these cultures converge and work together, they have the ability to create powerful music. Diversity is largely global. I see it not only across the separate countries, but in the billions of individuals that make up this planet.”

Adan Rangel
Senior at Kamiak High School
Nominated by Klayte Huber

“One of the most impressive qualities that Adan possesses is his desire to not only know about anything and everything, but his ability of application of that knowledge,” Klayte Huber, a teacher, wrote. “In this day and age, that is a rare trait, and one I admire and respect.”

“Despite the financial difficulties that Adan has faced growing up, he has always found a way to overcome and dream big,” Huber continued. “As an example, Adan had this dream of attending a Summer Institute at Harvard University his junior year. This was a seemingly impossible task, but he found a way. His interest was to represent a cross-section of America’s diversity through immigration at a predominantly white/wealthy institution. He continues to work towards spreading awareness of the different cultures and how they can contribute to the overall good of our nation.”

In his essay, Rangel wrote, “As I child, I never had any goals nor anyone that could ignite my ambition. I was encouraged by my father to pick fights, by my mother to be selfish, by my siblings to sacrifice my life, and by my community to fail … It all caught up to me one morning when I found out that my older friend had been shot and killed in the very steps that led to my apartment. This friend had dressed in black dickies, a long blue shirt, and a prideful blue bandana hanging out of his back pocket. He was gone and at that moment, I came to realize one thing — life could be taken away.” (end)

Staff can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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