Scholar Profiles

Congratulations to our most recent Scholars!
We are proud to share their stories of hard work, perseverance, and impact in the community.

Nishit Bhakta

APIA/Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship | Arizona | Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Passion comes from the heart, and my heart yearns to learn everything my professors teach me in each of my medical courses. Everything I grasp will not only affect my life but also to those who I am providing care to. Pursing my education pathways to become a Physician in Family Practice will help me to achieve my goals to study the human body and touch the life of others. I’ve known that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field since sophomore year of high school. While taking some classes at the Gila Community College, I’ve learned so many things about the health care industry and that is what helped me determine the job I wanted to pursue in the field. Earning this scholarship would help me pursue my dreams of going to college and most importantly, earning a quality education in order to give back to society

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Richard Dao

APIA/AT&T Foundation Scholarship | Massachusetts | Northeastern University, Boston, MA

I am beyond honored to having been chosen as a recipient of the APIA Scholars/AT&T Foundation Scholarship. My family and I were at a loss of words once we found out that I had received this honor. With this scholarship, I will be be one step closer towards achieving my goals without the burden of debt. This scholarship is truly a blessing that will motivate me to keep persevering in the face of adversity so that I may change myself and the future for the better. Growing up as a first-generation Asian-American child with parents who constantly worked in restaurant environments meant many things. For my family, serving Vietnamese cuisine was much more than just heartwarming pho in a bowl or elegant shrimp spring rolls. Looking deeper, they are symbols of struggle, entrepreneurship, and the will to make it in a country far from home. To my immigrant family, this was the only option they could have in potentially achieving their own American dream and providing for their children in a land unknown to them where the job industry felt almost impossible to crack without access to higher education. As a child, I witnessed my mother working endlessly day by day alongside my other relatives in order to make ends meet. It was an incessant cycle full of arduous work from early morning to late night. There were no such things as “personal days” or “sick days.” This very mentality influenced my own life drastically. On numerous occasions, I was sent to school with a fever because I was always told that my academics and my future came before anything else, ill or otherwise. Despite having a stressful academic life, I still wanted to contribute to my family’s various businesses in order to learn more about my identity and cultural roots. Ever since my dad had passed away due to lung cancer, I resented the idea of becoming a financial burden for my mom and so, I decided to work alongside my family members. Thus, at a very early age I knew the importance of hard work and paying my dues. Currently, I continue to support my family financially by working up to nearly thirty-hours a week while being a full-time honor student. I realize that through hardship and hard work, there will always be success. As a minority kid, especially as an Asian minority, there was a lot of prejudice. Constantly, I found myself being treated differently in school, and overall felt a sense of isolation. There would always be racist remarks pertaining to my Asian identity; when I was ten, I was just trying to fit in so I just laughed it off, but looking back, it made me feel frustrated. My childhood experiences were certainly different than most of my white peers. Instead of going on class trips, playing at the park, or going to see that basketball game, I was stuck behind a counter taking orders, preparing the next dish, or ringing the next item up. I remember feeling ashamed that my parents didn’t have high end jobs or some fancy office. However, as I grew older, I became to embrace my identity and unique culture as the experiences have taught me invaluable life lessons. Seeing how hard my mother, who is an immigrant from Vietnam with no postsecondary education, having to work made me realize the importance of college - an opportunity that she could only dream of. Because I am a first-generation college student, I struggle with understanding the college process and having the resources available to navigate it. Therefore, I took initiative over my own education since I knew that the only way I could help my family was to get into college and pursue a financially stable career. Because of these struggles, I know what I want to do with my future. When facing hardship all one can do is, “soften the present evil by the hope of a future good” (Alexander Hamilton). After completing my education at Northeastern University, I plan to create and lead an organization that focuses on improving lives and supplying the necessary resources for those who have a desire to develop a better future. Essentially, it will be a program to lead young people through a comprehensive network of support, mentorship, and practical guidance. I wish to advocate for all populations and recognize the achievement gaps between all disabilities, minorities and demographics. My goal is that I will have left the world a better place than I had entered it. I plan on doing this by continuously pushing myself to be more educated in my field of either business or engineering, both on and off the clock, and doing what it takes to be a competent leader. Although I am clearly only one person, I hope that the ripples of my daily actions can soon make waves of differences.

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Jessca Dennice De Francia

APIA/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship | Washington | University of Washington, Seattle, WA

I grew up without a father because I was born a girl. He left us because of my gender and his absence made me feel I was born a failure. But his selfish decision is a blessing in disguise. It made me become the ambitious, mature, and independent young woman that I am today. Instead of letting the emotional and mental damages take over my life, I turned it all into a source of motivation to push forward not just to prove my father wrong but also for the people who stayed by my side. In 2016, I migrated in the US with my mother. I experienced language barrier, culture shock, and racism. Despite all these new challenges, I grabbed every opportunity I could. After a semester of being labeled as an ELL (English Language Learner) student in high school, I graduated from the program and started taking mainstream classes. I became a running start student my senior year and took college courses like Psychology, Sociology, Social Problems, and many more. Throughout my high school years, I engaged in extracurricular activities by joining a Job Readiness Training Program, IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now in Technology and Engineering), Filipino club, Soccer, and Cross Country. Being able to adapt to my new environment helped me get through my high school years. At home, my main support has always been my mother. Raised by a single parent, I know what it’s like to be financially insecure. For as long as I could remember, relatives have been supporting us, but it recently stopped due to the fact that we are already living here in the US. My view on education is greatly influenced by my mom. Since I was a kid, she has been reminding me that the solution to our financial problems is my education. I firmly believe that pursuing higher education will also make me become a productive member of our society. I am excited and ready to explore various paths in the STEM field and find out where I have the most potential. I love learning how the world works and use the knowledge and skills I gained from attending University to solve pressing global issues like mental health problems, environmental problems, racism, injustice, and unequal rights. I am extremely thankful to the Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship for this opportunity and for the people behind this scholarship that are investing in my education and career. I am the first in our family to attend and earn Bachelors, Masters, and possibly a PhD in an American college. Through higher education, I hope to make a positive impact in my community and be able to raise my family from our current situation.

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Alexia Heth

APIA/FedEx Scholarship | California | California State University Long Beach, CA

Growing up , I would’ve never imagined myself pursuing a higher education as I was told I wouldn’t be able to afford it or told that I wasn’t smart enough. As a child, I was faced with responsibilities that most kids my age would never have to worry about, forcing me to grow up and mature faster than other children my age. At the age of four, my baby brother was born and I became a big role in his life. During that time, my parents weren't always doing their best so I was always watching after and caring for my infant brother. For as long as I can remember, my parents were always in and out of prison, forcing my brother and I to bounce around between homes whether it was living with trusted friends of my parents or close family. One day our parents left us to live with close friends of theirs who would end up betraying their trust. These trusted friends of my parents would beat my brother and I daily leaving us to be no longer victims, but survivors of child abuse. Unfortunately my 2 year old brother at the time got the worst of it and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He went into a coma for nearly two months and when he woke up had short term memory and could no longer walk or talk. He had to go through months of physical and occupational therapy in order to relearn how to walk and talk again. At this time I was placed in the foster care system until my aunt became my permanent foster home. For years, my brother received special attention which was understood, considering the circumstances, but my parents didn't realize how badly I was traumatized and this was something I kept to myself and dealt with on my own. School was my outlet away from home. I made sure I had good grades as a way to try and gain attention from my parents and tried to connect with other kids my age in order to feel like a normal kid. When I got to middle school is when I started thinking more more about college. About how no one in my family has made it past high school and how proud my parents would be if I attended and graduated from college. I still put that thought to the back of my head as I figured I would never be able to come up with the money to afford college. It wasn't until my junior year of highschool that I came to the realization that I wouldn't let money get in the way of me pursuing my dreams. Through the help of my high school college career counselor, I began searching for scholarships and trying to figure out what college I wanted to attend. After applying to 16 colleges and being accepted to eight of them, I decided to attend California State University Long Beach as a pre nursing major. I've always loved helping people and putting others before myself which is why I feel that this is the right career path for me. I'm proud to say I've maintained above a 3.5 GPA throughout all four years of high school and graduated an honors student. On June 1st, I woke up from a nap and began checking my notifications only to wake up to an email from APIA Scholars, that I’ve been waiting months for saying, “We are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded the APIA Scholars/FedEx Scholarship.” I instantly jumped up off the couch in excitement and called my dad. A few days later, I was sitting at my schools senior award night and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for playing the violin. Never would I have imagined being awarded money for my love for music. I would just like to thank the APIA Scholars/FedEx Scholarship donor for awarding me this money. I truly felt so blessed to receive $11,000 in scholarship money all in one week, from people who have never personally met me yet still see potential in my future. I can't wait to give back to my community by working in a hospital once i've completed my education. Thanks to this scholarship along with my financial aid package, my dream to become a first generation college student as well as to pursue in a career helping others is slowly but surely coming true. Again thank you, I truly do appreciate your support and support in furthering my education!

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Siosiana Hoeft

APIA/United Health Foundation Scholarship | Nevada | Carrington College - Boise, Boise, ID

As a first generation American citizen education was important to my family, but the financialMy grandmother brought my father to America from Tonga when he was just eight years old. She always stressed the importance of Education to him, but was never able to provide him the opportunity to further his education. This is something that was then passed onto his children. My grandmother became a live-in care provider. My entire life I watched her help others, caring for them as if they were her own family members. That has instilled the value of loving strangers and kindness in me. As I grew, I sought out opportunities to volunteer in our community and help those less fortunate than myself. As I attended fundraisers, community outreach programs, and different events to help the homeless, I realize there was so much more that I could do. So many people were focusing on housing needs, food, clothing and raising money, that there was a huge need for help with medical issues. I always knew that I wanted to further my education in non-profit programs or nursing, but as I started a family of my own, that became my number one priority. As I continually preach to my children the importance of following their dreams and furthering their education I felt that it was important that I went back to school and accomplish mine. It was important for me to lead by example. I started saving money because I knew it would be a struggle to return to school and support a family. I am eternally grateful to receive this scholarship from the Asian Pacific Islander scholarship program, as it fills the gaps of my financial need to for school. The scholarship that I received not only will help pay for my second year of schooling, but will help in furthering my education in pursuing my bachelor's degree. My long term goal is to be a nurse practioner, working in a clinic that provide services to the homeless and less fortunate. I want to be an example to other Pacific Islanders that a college degree is possible, no matter the obstacles. You can conquer alll of your dreams.

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Justin Hogenauer

APIA/HOPE Scholars | California | University of California - Berkeley, CA

Growing up, national parks were my playground; my summers were spent road tripping across the country, each destination composed of a foreign landscape filled with natural treasures, unpaved trails, and unique wildlife for my dad and I to discover. My dad taught me to respect nature, to need only a map and my head to navigate through dense forests, and to utilize the resources around me, wasting nothing. Because every night meant sleeping in a new place and being surrounded by new faces, I was forced to become adaptable, scavenging through coupon books to find deals, exploring motel hallways, and talking with strangers to pass the time. However, not all these memories were positive. In 2013, my father passed away in a hiking accident from dehydration. I was devastated, emotionally conflicted with the loss of my dad, my best friend. Even at his passing, he was enjoying the beauty and ruggedness of nature that he so adored. I realized this was the legacy my dad was leaving behind, one of travel and appreciation for the world. And more importantly, I was his legacy, and I couldn't waste the life I had left disillusioned with the world--rather I was meant to explore, to live life to the fullest, to preserve the nature that my father had taught me to love. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional challenges I faced, but the lessons I learned have continued to motivate me. I want to serve my community, which has shaped me into the young man I am today, and whether that may be joining the military as a pilot or becoming an environmental conservationist, I remain optimistic for my future career path. I uniquely approach my education, balancing academics with the knowledge I gain from traveling. I explore my intellectual curiosities, establishing a drought-resistant garden into my school, studying endangered rhinos in South Africa, and educating the future generation of conservationists. Being a varsity runner in two sports, I value physical health and am proud to be a scholar and an athlete, never underestimating the need to hydrate. I would like to personally say thank you to APIA Scholars and the Hope Foundation for giving me a scholarship that will significantly help my family afford college. Coming from a single-parent household, expenses have always been a burden on my family but it is from the financial and academic support of organizations like APIA Scholars that will allow me to attend UC Berkeley and pursue my passion studying environmental science. Thank you for believing in me and believing in the importance of higher education!

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Steven Huynh

APIA/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship | Texas | University of Houston, Houston, TX

the younger brother; the second place; the slacker. Growing up I have always come in second place. Everything was a competition against my brother, which was a good thing as he was my inspiration for almost everything in life. If he got honor roll, I got honor roll. He got into National Honor Society; I got into National Honor Society. Being raised in a competitive environment has its perks, but not when you come in second for basically everything. This contributed to a lack of self-confidence. I constantly found myself questioning my actions even before others do. Furthermore, I had grown to accept failure and disappointment as these were rather frequent. I was a disappointment to myself more than anything. The competition between him and I fueled intense arguments. However, it ultimately shaped me to be determined and optimistic, and finally, after seventeen long years of “monkey-see, monkey- do” I learned to step out of his shadow. Instead of following him into pharmacy school, I will be pursuing a career in physical therapy. A bachelor's in nutrition will set me apart from most physical therapists as many will focus on kinesiology. However, I believe that dieting and exercise affects in large part how the body functions. “Proud but never satisfied.” This quote has been inspirational as I aspire to drive away from complacency. Continuing my education will allow me to grow as an individual. An individual who will one day start his own family. I intend on giving my children a better childhood than I was raised. I am hopeful in doing better than my parents did. In no way am I bashing on my parents. They gave me everything and then some. However, I want to give the next generation even more. With that said, I would just like to thank the APIA Scholars/Wells Fargo Foundation Scholarship for giving me the opportunity at proving not only to those around me but also to myself that I can do better. With the funding from this scholarship, I will be able to finish off paying my tuition for my freshman year in undergrad. This takes off a heavy burden as I was racking my brain and wallet for ways to come up with the money. As an APIA Scholars scholar I will finally be able to walk into my lectures without the worries of being dropped from the class. I can now focus on graduating with that nutrition degree and in turn help train and improve the health of those around me, ultimately bettering their lives. Life is full of choices. When I received the email with confirmation of my award, I was stoked, shocked, and skeptical. “No way they chose me.” But to my dismay, I realized that it was true, after reading the email four times over. So, to those out there who doubt themselves even slightly, aspire and accomplish. There’s always room for growth and improvement, so never be satisfied and always drive away from complacency.

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Tasnim Islam

APIA/FedEx Scholarship | Connecticut | Yale University, New Haven, CT

Growing up in Bangladesh, I've had the privilege of living in a beautiful country while absorbing all of the rich traditions and customs that were incorporated into it. Following my family's move to America at the age of nine, I was immersed in a new culture that seemed extremely enticing yet frightening since it was so different from everything I had known before. I was excited to take advantage of all this great country and new culture had to offer. Finding the proper balance between holding on to my cultural roots while assimilating into the positive aspects of American life proved to be difficult at times, but my greatest struggle while growing up was coming to terms with the fact that I was from a family that had serious financial struggles. At a young age this did not bother me as much since my family always supported me and did their best to make me happy, but once high school started, I began to feel the limitations that our financial situation had placed on us. There were times when I could not participate in a summer program or an extracurricular activity that I really wanted to be a part of, because my family could not afford to pay for the program or provide me with transportation necessary. I was tired of constantly turning down numerous opportunities that I thought would help me be successful in high school and stand out to colleges in the admissions process. As my dreams of one day attending a top school began to quiver, I started to feel that no matter how hard I worked to be successful, there were certain limitations that I would never be able to surpass. During my senior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to apply and become a finalist for Questbridge, an organization with the sole purpose of connecting high-achieving, low-income high school students to some of the nation's top schools. Because of the guidance this program, my teachers, and my family were able to provide me with, I had enough faith in myself to apply early and get accepted by Yale University, a school that I once only dreamed of having the chance to attend. Following this amazing news, the limitations that I once felt restraining me quickly dissolved away. All in all, I would like to thank FedEx and APIA Scholars for providing me with this scholarship. With your support, I plan to major in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University with the hopes of one day pursuing a career in immunology, in which I intend to work with the administration of vaccines while educating people about the many misconceptions regarding its use. Because of your generosity, I dream of one day having the opportunity to support hard-working students who have struggled like me while inspiring them to look past their limitations.

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Hiran Khatri

APIA/Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship | New York | Saint John Fisher College, Rochester, NY

I want to start off by thanking the donors and everyone else who made it possible for students to receive such amazing scholarship. This will be a great deal of help for me and my family because we cannot financially support the amount we have to pay. I come from a low-income family because my parents are unable to work and provide for the family. However, I never used this as an excuse to put myself down or let it consume me. Instead, I used it as a motivation and strength to make someone better of myself. I strived to do the best that I could in school, community, and in the house to make sure that my parents did not worry about paying for my education. I applied at various scholarships to make sure they did not worry. They have and continue to support and raise me to be a consistent person and I am very grateful for that. We never had much to offer to the world because we grew up in poverty. They did not have much to offer me in terms of materials. However, they taught me to be consistent and never stop trying and fighting for my beliefs. They not only taught me to dream but to fulfill it as well. Achieving this scholarship has been a tremendous impact in not just my life but my family`s as well. I will continue to try and make sure it is worth every penny. I will major in psychology to help families, who are traumatized by their childhood or past because there are a lot of people suffering due to it but not many will admit it. It is a major problem that needs to be dealt with. Before becoming a psychologist, I plan on volunteering from college to help everyone in the community becuase if not for them I would not be standing here today. Thank you again for this phenominal oppurtinity to not only apply but be a recipient of the scholar. Thank you.

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Tina Zou

APIA/HOPE Scholars | New York | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Circle, line, drip drop. My seven year mind thought I created a masterpiece, my mother thought she was entertaining a fleeting hobby of mine. This hobby was the gateway of my creativity and boundless ideas, but since my mother told me to keep my fire dormant, I did. I kept quiet, in captive obedience, listening to the choices of others instead of mine. When high school came around, I was introduced to the basics of engineering. Conversions, physics, problem-solving were daily obstacles to train my mind but within this technical chaos I found fire. And as fire does what fire does, it began to spread and consume the entirety of my soul. I threw myself into visualizing flat objects into 3-D models, documenting my engineering design process, rewiring my mindset for beginners coding using VEX Robotics and Arduino, and dedicating my spare time to achieve certification in Inventor Autocad and SolidWorks. Stress and projects were drowning me but I had to stay afloat with my eyes only focused on showing my fire to the world. Education is the fuel to the future of advancement. My diverse community of NYC places significant emphasis on education because without it, unique ideas won’t spread, unemployment will shoot due to a picky job market, and selective positions will stay selective to those who hold privilege. I hold immense pride in being Asian American and one thing that holds true for my collective community is; to be able to effectively utilize our education to its fullest extent, provides a core foundation for inevitable success. I am currently pursuing a career in Design, Innovation, and Society because these three topics stokes the fire in me. Using my engineering influences and creativity for designing, I can innovate life-changing inventions to further benefit the suffering society. I look forward to the education and skills obtained in college to indulge in my curious interest in construction. To begin redesigning more sustainable, cost effective housing for the homeless roaming urban streets, to the homeless navigating war-stricken lands and joining community enriching, non-profit organizations is the first objective I hope to achieve. Thank you, APIA Scholars/Hope Foundation Scholarship, for your support as I am beyond grateful for this scholarship because finally, the choice is mine to delve my whole passion to, without the constant financial burden that plagues my family. The moment I found out this exciting opportunity was given to me, I blabbered it to every single family member I saw, the relief on their faces were blatantly evident. The community is ours to shape; I aim to be part of the storm pioneering the contemporary world, reinventing the definition of innovation and change. Learning multiple coding languages, challenging myself for the best possible scores, creating a powerful animation that paints my experiences to inspire students is only one drop in the ocean. All that matters with the result of my actions is to incite change to the repressed community.

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