Diversity Makes a Difference — Part 4 (final)

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Janae Chan
Inglemoor High School

“I know that Janae likes to diversify her own life by being friends with all kinds of people and not being cliquish by hanging just with people of her own background,” said her teacher Katrina Allemeier. “She is just kind and sweet to everyone.”

Janae has “excellent presentation skills and a fabulous grade” in her IB psychology class, said her teacher. “Janae seems to be an incredibly organized, hard-working, and wonderful young lady.”

Julie Nguyen
Shorecrest High School

Julie is the managing editor of her school’s newspaper. “The production of this deadline-driven publication demands a great deal of discipline, dedication, and hard work,” says her teacher Toni Nyman, “all of which are par for the course with Julie.”

She has also performed more than 300 hours of community service, primarily through a food bank and also teaching English to Vietnamese students.

“We can be academically smart, we can get a big degree in college, and we can land a job that makes us wealthy,” Julie wrote. “However, if we do not understand or accept culture, we are not educated individuals. Diversity is crucial for us to understand that people come from different backgrounds and we are not all the same, which is not a bad thing, it makes life more interesting.”

Kyle McCrohan
Inglemoor High School

Kyle is pursuing a full International Baccalaureate diploma. He is the captain of both his cross-country and track and field teams. He participates in Future Business Leaders of America, is the public relations officer of the Chinese Club, and created Christmas Music for the Cure to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

“Through his tremendous efforts within the classroom and beyond, Kyle truly embodies a student who exhibits a passion for seeking knowledge, collaborating with others, and understanding the importance of working to benefit a cause that impacts our global community,” said his teacher Loni Tighe.

As a mix of two ethnicities, Kyle sees himself as an ambassador of cultures.

“All my life, I have lived simultaneously in two cultures,” wrote Kyle, “so I know how to bridge the gap between the two and cultivate understanding across barriers.”

Marissa Yamane
Issaquah High School

“The most important thing diversity teaches is acceptance,” wrote Marissa Yamane.

“Acceptance of those who are different and may not share the same thoughts is what lets our society gain new ideas and discoveries. Some ideas may be different, but that’s the beauty of the world we live in. Diversity is what shapes our world and society today.”

Marissa has been a supervisor and manager at her job. “Her teammates rate her leadership skills as a 12 out of 10,” said her employer, Dr. Skube. “I would have full confidence in her to lead any project, any team, work well with diverse people, and excel in any task I provided her with.”

Priyanka Kompella
Issaquah High School

“I consider myself a smoothie of cultures,” wrote Priyanka Kompella, whose extended family consists of relatives from New Zealand, England, Italy, Australia, India, and Japan. “The meshing of cultures from different regions of the world frees us from our predispositions and broadens our horizons.”

One of Priyanka’s passions is science and she participated in the Washington Aerospace Scholar Program. She is also the director of Environmental Awareness and organized a weeklong event helping students decrease their carbon footprints.

Priyanka, says her teacher Keri Dean, is a conscientious, diligent, intelligent young woman, with a desire to grow and improve the community around her. “Her involvement not only highlights her strengths in leadership, it also showcases her time management skills and maturity, both of which are far beyond that of her peers,” Dean said.

Rahwa Beyan
Edmonds-Woodway High School

When Rahwa moved from Georgia to Edmonds, she really missed the “comfort zone” of her culture. This motivated her to create a place where African Americans, as well as other cultural groups, could enjoy their history and identity, she said. “If I believed Edmonds lacked diversity,” she said, “I would bring it myself.”

Rahwa is the president of her school’s Black Student Union, participates in the A Hand to Help Club, and started Verbal Expressions, a club where students are free to express themselves through dance, poetry, and music. She is the president of the Snohomish County NAACP Youth Division, and in her spare time she sings and writes poetry and songs. She is also a full-time student in the International Baccalaureate program.

“Rahwa is a force to be reckoned with,” said her teacher Nancy Branom. “She wants to be involved in school activities in an effort to make a change in the school community.”

Samantha Murira
Shorecrest High School

“Every time I encounter Samantha Murira, my day is a little brighter and I can’t help but smile and feel so thankful to know this subtly charismatic young lady,” says her teacher Linda Cobb. “She truly makes a difference in the lives of those around her.”

Samantha is a member of her school’s Black Student Union, where she helps organize and host a community-wide Unity Festival.

“We are young, but someday we will be the leaders of tomorrow,” wrote Samantha.

“Diversity is important because it enhances society’s responsiveness to an increasingly diverse world, which can improve relations with the surrounding community and increase our ability to cope with change and expand the creativity of the society.”

Sarah Cha “Cha Cha” Sawyer
Holy Names Academy

“What is important to Cha Cha is equal rights and fighting against prejudice,” says her college counselor Alice Tanaka.

Sarah has been active in her school’s Social Justice Committee, is a leader in the Multi-Cultural Student Union, has been a co-class president, and has been recognized with a service award. She was a group leader for Shirts Across America to raise money for Hurricane Katrina and travels each spring break to help with the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Sara also volunteers with Global Visionaries and at the Seattle World School. She has been involved with World Bus, which encourages young people to participate in politics.

“We all have the duty and right to respect our differences, not the duty to neglect and abuse them,” wrote Sarah. “Diversity is important because it lets everyone know they have a life worth living with distinct attributes to better our society.”

Katarina Schrag
Issaquah High School

“From the differences our ancestors identified in other cultures, commerce was born, discussions were had, and history was made,” wrote Katarina Schrag. “Diversity has created an inherently interesting global community.”

Katarina combines her love of sports with charitable activities, participating in bicycling events that raise money for juvenile diabetes research and to support women against domestic violence. She told her teacher she would like to set up schools for underprivileged children in undeveloped areas, teaching them about health and nutrition.

“Katarina is a gentle soul with a giving spirit,” says her teacher Carolyn Bilby. “Her active interest and good work for the community make her an ideal candidate.”

So Yeon Jung
Issaquah High School

“If the world was a gigantic bowl of stew, having no diversity would have a bowl of only the broth,” wrote So Yeon Jung.

“She has challenged herself with our school’s college preparatory coursework, including our most rigorous English and World Language classes,” said her high school counselor Stacy Carlson, adding that So Yeon is a great role model to her peers. “She has been a joy to work with, and I can’t wait to see what she will achieve in her future.”

“To create the most sublime bowl of stew,” continued So Yeon, “it is absolutely necessary to have diversity — various people with distinct gifts they have to offer to their community.”

Stephanie Rey
Sehome High School

“Making connections to faces across borders offer endless opportunities to better understand others and ourselves,” wrote Stephanie Rey. “I’ve realized how wonderful it is not only to define myself to others, but also to experience the enrichment of embracing another culture.”

Stephanie spent her junior year in Germany for the Rotary International Youth Exchange. She’s been involved with cross country, swimming, track and field, ski racing, diving, dancing, piano, and gymnastics. She was on the Youth Advisory Board of a tutoring program, sang in the church choir, and was in the leadership program of Toastmasters International. When she lived in Oregon, she was recognized by the governor for her volunteer service.

Stephanie has a “deep altruistic commitment to a better world,” says her teacher Lindsay MacDonald. “She is a very impressive young woman who holds great promise.”

Tammy Yu
Ingraham High School

Tammy experienced culture shock as a Running Start student at North Seattle Community College, where she encountered fellow students of all ages and backgrounds.

“There were many students that had just moved to Seattle from different countries,” she wrote. “It was interesting to see how they adapted to the cultural norms here in Seattle. Working with them during group assignments was always fascinating. I learned that although people came from many different places across the world, we all shared one common goal, which was to attend school to have a better future.

“To embrace diversity,” she added, “means to be culturally aware and to have the ability to adapt to different environments that contradict one’s own idea of social and cultural norms.”

Tanner Hoang
O’Dea High School

“Educating ourselves on other cultures helps us relate to each other and accept the different perspectives,” wrote Tanner Hoang. “This knowledge of diversity is good because it integrates new ideas and cultures into society as well.”

Tanner is immersed in academics and sports, and is a member of the school bands.

“Tanner always places his highest priority on his school work,” said his assistant principal Jeanne Eulberg. “He is a motivated student who is an eager participant in each of his classes, and he has pushed himself to go beyond his comfort zone and also try new activities.”

Tulasa Ghimirey
Foster High School

Tulasa is in the Girls Leadership Group at Seattle’s Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), involved with Youth Against Tobacco, and is a volunteer with the Senior Nutrition Program. She is the president of her school’s Bhutanese Club.

“Tulasa always exceeds my expectations by being a supporter and leader to the whole community,” said Lori Penor, a ReWA Youth Program teacher. “I have witnessed her strength and poise in presenting on issues that affect refugee populations and candor when reflecting on her own story.”

Tulasa plans to attend college and wants to enter the field of medicine.

“I understand the value of diversity,” wrote Tulasa. “I will be using my skills in order to actively contribute to a world that truly accepts the diverse backgrounds we come from.

Veronique Soriano
Ingraham High School

Veronique’s experiences dealing with prejudice has shaped her outlook on the importance of embracing diversity. “Being multiracial has helped me learn that it’s not about what you look like, but rather about who you are inside,” she wrote. “With all the challenges I have faced being multiracial, I know that I am not the only one that encounters them. There are many kids around the world that face cultural differences every day. It’s how you face them that makes you a better person.”

Vy Tang
Ingraham High School

“Being different is what makes us interesting,” wrote Vy Tang. “Our individual opinions build who we are as a person in society. To me, the passion of learning about another culture is a significant key factor in creating a mentally healthy, peaceful community. Diversity creates open mindedness, where any idea or culture can be accepted. Having diversity anywhere is important, because it creates a sense of togetherness.”

Yi Fang (Yvonne Wu)
Inglemoor High School

“Yvonne is the sort of student who will make the best of every opportunity given to her,” said her teacher Kevin Bliss.

When Yvonne first came to America, she said she did not have any concept of diversity. But when she began taking Spanish classes, she made Hispanic friends and was “amazed by their open, cheerful, and lively culture,” she said. “It was a big lesson for me, not just learning the language, but also learning the culture. I started to learn and respect other cultures and backgrounds.

“To absorb different cultures not only can help me know others better, but also improve myself,” she added.

Zeena Rivera
Holy Names Academy

“Zeena Rivera is an amazingly astute and talented individual,” said her school’s college counselor Alice Tanaka. “She marches to the beat of her own drum and is proud of her accomplishments.”

Zeena Rivera is the founder and editor-in-chief of Be! Magazine, an online nonprofit magazine written by and for LGBTQ youth and allies. She has interned at the Seattle Nativity School, participated in Junior State of America, has been on the speech team, and pursues theater, music, volunteering, writing, and more.

Diversity is important in our world because alone we are only parts. The things that make us foreigners or weird can also make us familiar and resilient. Our differences have the power to empower and unite us as members of a greater community.

I have a choice in whether I let my differences inhibit or enable my ability to give to the world, she added. (end)

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