Letter to APIA Scholars friends, partners, and scholars



Happy Lunar New Year! 2021 is the Year of the Ox, which represents movement, patience, strength and persistence. As the second symbol of twelve in the Chinese zodiac, the Ox offers us a set of very fitting values to inspire us into this new year.

Movement: As we enter this new Lunar year, it is worth looking back at the year behind us, one where we all stopped (quite literally and figuratively), experienced loss on many different levels, and grappled with how to keep moving forward. As we emerge into a new year, I challenge you to find those opportunities to move forward, even tiny steps. In January 2013, my dad passed away very unexpectedly. That very same week, I learned I was pregnant with my first child. Life is full of stops and starts, pushes and pulls, and two-steps forward one-step back moments. We were made to be strong enough to sustain the tension, to be resilient when we fall, and to feel relief when we win. The world has a way of balancing itself. This new year offers us the opportunity to collectively pick up and begin moving forward to explore the many opportunities we have awaiting us!

Patience: If patience was not one of our personal virtues before the pandemic, we were forced at the very least to address it within ourselves at some point this past year. Whether it was waiting in lines, helping with our children’s homework, balancing work and life, or missing our loved ones whom we haven’t seen in more months than we care to count, we were forced to call upon ourselves to be patient. Thus, as we enter this new year, we have a new perspective on patience. You exhibited it through simple acts of kindness, like wearing a mask. You made choices that were inconvenient, but “right” for you, your family, and your community. Patience takes practice and you have practiced and will continue to appreciate the power that patience affords you.

Strength: We may feel as if we have little strength left in us after last year, but we do, and I would venture to say that we are stronger for it. I have been amazed by the strength and resilience our scholars have shown during this last year. APIA Scholars, in partnership with Macys, McDonalds, and Wells Fargo, provided more than $1.5 million in emergency aid to fund students across this country who are taking on more responsibility and showing more strength than I could ever imagine. This community inspires me and so many others to not only continue to do the work, but to do it better and with even greater impact than last year.

Persistence: Some believe persistence and resilience are the true keys to success. “It’s not how you fall; it’s how you get up” is the adage and no year in recent history could better exemplify this saying. We’ve had to adapt, stretch, be flexible, think outside the box, and be nimble. All of these things will serve us well into this new year. I am sure new, brilliant ideas will be born out of this time propelling us into a solutions-oriented mindset and world.

I am so very proud of you — our scholars, staff, Board, partners, funders, and our friends who have been strong advocates and supporters of APIA Scholars so that we too- as an organization, can enter this new year with hope, energy, and genuine excitement to embrace all of the opportunities — even the small ones — that this year ahead has to offer.

With that, let us move forward, with greater patience, strength, and a will to persist.

Happy New Year!

Noël Harmon
February 12, 2021