Diversity Makes a Difference — Part 5

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.

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Allisia Rangal
Senior at Holy Name Academy
Nominated by Alice Tanaka

“Allisia is a strong and determined student,” wrote Alice Tanaka, a counselor. “One thing that dance has taught her that she values in the classroom is her ability to take criticism. Through dance, she has learned that criticism can help you better understand what you are learning and that criticism makes you a better person, so she welcomes criticism. Although she is a very quiet person, Allisia’s teachers have certainly enjoyed having her as a student because of her strong work ethic and enthusiasm for learning.”

In her essay, Rangal wrote, “Diversity is important on all levels of society and in all countries throughout the world. The importance of diversity is that diversity helps people learn about the differences in society, so prejudices and stereotypes can be pushed aside and people can come to know the truth about each other.”

Jennee Boyd
Senior at Chief Sealth High School
Nominated by Letica Bravo

“Jennee is a bright, energetic, and responsible student,” wrote Letica Bravo, a student services specialist. “Her grades have been above average as she actively participated in a variety of diverse extracurricular activities, such as sports, band, and community service.”

She continued, “Jennee is frequently recruiting peers to join Talent Search and persuading them to take their education seriously. I have witnessed her provide genuine support as she has interacted with her diverse group of peers. She is curious to learn about other cultures, and respects and appreciates the diversity in her community.”

In her essay, Boyd wrote, “I believe diversity gives us faith in discovery. For me, learning about other cultures, languages, traditions, and beliefs is a great experience. I like knowing what other people feel about life and to know where others come from. Their adversities and lives help me understand some of the wars, politics, and leadership techniques that the world sees today.”

Tiffany Chin
Senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School
Nominated by Jillian Wellington

“Tiffany is a multi-talented young woman,” wrote Jaime Roberts-Jones, an instructor. “She has also been the president of  ‘For the Love of Art’ Club, for which I have been the adviser. Tiffany has been entirely self-motivated, independent, and autonomous in conducting the business and activities of her club. The club members have done numerous art projects as fundraisers for such causes as tsunami relief for Japan. And beyond the demanding IB Program, Tiffany is a member of several other clubs, on the Chinese Girls Drill team, takes piano lessons, and volunteers for Teen Court. She has won academic awards in Chinese and Psychology. She is also an artist and an appointed officer of FCCLA.”

In her essay, Chin wrote, “Working with these members [of the Chinese girls’ drill team] has given me a different perspective on a person’s pride for their own culture because of how my teammates are able to take a lot of pride in Chinese culture by being in the drill team and expressing Chinese traditions, while also expressing their other Asian culture outside of the drill team.”

Alan Eduardo Flores-Torres
Senior at Foster High School
Nominated by Vicki Gezon

“I have known Alan for several years. He is a hardworking, conscientious young man in everything he does,” wrote Vicki Gezon, a nurse. “He balances academics, long cheer practices, family obligations, a job at a fast food restaurant, activities and responsibilities with Ignite, and the upcoming MEChA Latino conference. Alan loves being part of ‘the most diverse high school in the nation.’ ”

In his essay, Flores-Torres wrote, “Attending the most diverse high school in the nation has certainly given me knowledge of the various ethnicities our community consists of and the different ways they contribute to our school. It is a pleasure to be a part of such an enriching school with 52 different cultures from around the world. As a student, I enjoy getting involved around my school, making sure that I offer my time and work to make my community a better place to live in.”

Nhat-Quynh Nguyen
Senior at Franklin High School
Nominated by Ellen Recupido

“As a student, Nhat-Quynh can always be counted on to be prepared for class … Although she is involved in many extracurricular activities, such as The Vietnamese Buddhist Association, Ultimate Frisbee, Nation Honor Society, and Youth Health Service Corps, the quality of her work has never faltered,” wrote Angela Roh, a language arts teacher.

She continued, “Nhat-Quynh is a thoughtful, bright, and determined young woman. I have complete confidence that she will succeed at all that she pursues.”

In her essay, Nguyen wrote, “People who come from a different backgrounds tend to lose touch with their origins as time progresses. However, the contributions that each different background could bring to the community can only make others appreciate it more. Since I understood the importance of cultural background, I accept and make sure that people feel comfortable expressing their cultural backgrounds around me and at the same time, use my own customs and skills to enrich and build a stronger community.”

Christine Nguyen
Senior at Kentridge High School
Nominated by Roselyn Robinson

“Intelligent, capable, responsible, and creative, Christine never fails to meet the high expectations of her academic schedule without sacrificing the extra curricular activities that make her a well-rounded young woman. I feel confident that she will meet any challenge placed in front of her with maturity and grace,” wrote Erin C. Arbuthnot.

In her essay, Nguyen wrote, “Diversity teaches tolerance, diversity teaches culture. Attending one of the most diverse schools in the community, diversity came naturally. I am constantly surrounded by numerous amounts of cultures, ethnicities, and more. I never realized the importance of diversity until I was placed in a situation where I was only associated with Vietnamese Catholics. As my church was putting together a festival, it came to my attention how everyone seemed to lack the knowledge of any other cultures but our own. With arrogance and ignorance, they excluded many people, not making it a comfortable setting to welcome all.”

Itzel Medina
Senior at Mariner High School
Nominated by Karen Lee

“Even though Itzel has numerous advanced placement and honors classes, Itzel has done a great job balancing her school life with her duties at home and within her community … Itzel had volunteered in a wide range of events that help bring joy and relief to people of diverse backgrounds,” wrote Auliilani De La Cruz, a math teacher.

She continued, “Itzel has always done a great job keeping focus on what is important. In each of the activities listed above, she maintained calmness when chaos was evident. Each time, she lent a helping hand no matter how dirty or difficult the task was, and I will also add that she never complained.”

In her essay, Medina wrote, “One of my most memorable surprises was when I realized white did not just mean white, it meant Russian, French, Ukranian, and other European cultures. As a new student at Mariner, second semester during my freshman year, I thought it would be hard to make friends and I always felt more comfortable speaking to students similar to me. It wasn’t until my English class where I met this girl. She was very kind and welcoming. She was Indian and introduced me to her other friends and to this day, I have the most diverse group of friends ranging from Asian, to Mexican and Indian.”

Angela Tang
Senior at Nathan Hale High School
Nominated by Tina Camero

“Angela is a brave young woman and since coming out to her family, she has been a school advocate for gay rights,” wrote Tina Camero, a guidance counselor. “She is a member of our LGBT club and spoke at our Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly in understanding discrimination and the current struggle that the LGBT community is experiencing.  I believe with Angela’s life experiences and future goals, she well deserves this recognition.”

In her essay, Tang wrote, “All my parents ever wanted of me had seemed so simple, despite the parting of our worlds. They wanted me to have good grades, eat lots of rice, and most importantly, they wanted me to marry a nice Asian man and have children. So when I told them about my white girlfriend Taylor, the separation could not have been worse. I was suddenly being yelled at in the car every day for two months about how I was a major embarrassment to the family. My mom threatened to disown me when I turned 18, while my dad told me that I had stabbed a knife through their hearts. It became the scariest and hardest situation I have ever overcome in my life, but it suddenly clicked for me. My parents were resenting me because I was different. I was also resenting my parents because they were different than everyone else I knew. It occurred to me that maybe it’s not so bad to be Chinese Vietnamese. Over the next few months, I made more effort to participate in family events. My parents slowly began to welcome Taylor and I back into the family by inviting her to family dinners, where we enjoyed delicious Asian food. All of a sudden, my parents started to take entertainment in watching Taylor eat pig ear, while smelling the overwhelming scent of durian. It was a tremendous hurdle that they began to embrace. I am happy to say that despite the resentment I had for my family, we have never been closer than today. Diversity allowed for me to bond with my family and understand their culture as they began to understand mine.”

Adrienne Leonard
Senior at Roosevelt High School
Nominated by Cora Mackoff

“[Adrienne] is the kind of student every teacher wants in a class because of her willingness to take a risk and grow from it without regard to the possible outcome,” wrote Core Mackoff, the head of the social studies department.

She continued, “Adrienne has actively participated in her four years at Roosevelt both inside and outside the classroom. She has given many hours of her time to create an interesting mix of talents and experiences that make her the bright, creative, determined, and outstanding young woman that she is today.”

In her essay, Leonard wrote, “Too often, people think race equals diversity and while I believe it is still important to celebrate our different cultures and our ethnicities, we should never let them define or divide us.

Our Diversity Week symbolizes togetherness. The idea that at Roosevelt, no matter what we look like, how we act, how we talk, or who we choose to love, we are all still Rough Riders and what makes us diverse as a whole are how our unique differences and similarities bring us together. This is the diversity I embrace and I think this is how more people ought to think. Diversity is not defined by your skin color, nor should anyone think it is, and it’s for this reason we changed our diversity week message to the students.”

Amy Han
Senior at Sehome High School
Nominated by Bobby Stafford

“I can emphasize the fact that Amy’s performance in school and in her extra-curricular activities requires raw talent, in addition to a massive commitment of time, energy, and a desire to excel,” wrote Roberta Stafford, a counselor. “Amy is humble about her accomplishments, so it is easy to be unaware of what she does when she isn’t at school. Amy is quiet and reluctant to promote herself. At times, I have had to pull information out of her, because she doesn’t fully recognize how amazing she really is. She doesn’t consider her accomplishments as extraordinary. But they are.”

In her essay, Han wrote, “The differences in our cultural views encouraged us to try and understand each other on a deeper level. In a sense, the differences amongst ourselves actually worked to unite us. In a larger context, diversity is not only crucial because it allows people to experience new ideas and think creatively. Diversity is important because it unites communities, promotes understanding and respect amongst people, and encourages people of all backgrounds to look past their differences and work together towards a brighter future.”

Lauren Wallace
Senior at Squalicum High School
Nominated by Aramis Johnson

“Despite her academic success and accolades, Lauren’s greatest accomplishment has been her work in the community,” wrote Aramis Johnson, a counselor. “Specifically, Lauren’s volunteer effort with Special Olympics soccer demonstrates her compassion for an underrepresented population. Lauren started, organized, and coached a Unified Special Olympic soccer team. Unified Special Olympics is a program where those with disabilities play alongside non-disabled “partners.” Lauren rallied the school around this cause and was able to find partners and athletes to participate together.  I do not want you to think this was a simple task.”

In her essay, Wallace wrote, “I have always found it despicable that people exclude others simply because they are different, be it because of their skin color, how much money they have, or their mental or physical capabilities. The wonderful thing about sports, especially team sports like soccer, is that these differences need to be forgotten, they need to be ignored, in order for the team to prosper. The only way for a team to function is for everyone to be on common ground and equal with one another.  Through team sports, anyone can build relationships with their peers, regardless of their differences.” (end)

Staff can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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