The Diversity Makes a Difference scholarship program celebrates young people who are committed to reaching out across cultural lines. Students are nominated by their school as being champions of diversity.
Of those students, a judging panel will choose five winners who will receive $1,000 scholarships and eight finalists who will receive $200 scholarships.
The Diversity Makes a Difference awards dinner will take place on April 2 at Jumbo Chinese Restaurant (4208 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle). For more information or to buy tickets, visit diversity.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org.
Each week, leading up to the dinner, we will print a batch of short profiles of the nominees. This week’s nominees are:
Jerrell Gregory Davis
O’Dea High School
Recommended by Jeanne Eulberg
“Both of Jerrell Gregory Davis’ parents have dedicated their lives to serving others and Jerrell has adopted these values for himself,” wrote his counselor Jeanne Eulberg.
Davis teaches preschool Sunday school every week. “His mother told me that he is like the Pied Piper after church each week, with all the little children following him everywhere he goes. At the same time, the older members of his church community respect him for his kindness and generosity to the elderly,” wrote Eulberg.
“Jerrell petitioned us to allow him to take all of the junior honors courses that we offer. He had a difficult time making the leap from our regular courses to the honors level courses, but he never gave up. … He told me that as hard as it was for him to have these struggles, the victory that he felt was from persevering during his junior year,” wrote Eulberg.
“He also experienced disappointment when he was expected to assume a leadership role on our varsity basketball team, only to break his hand during the third game, ending his season. He continued to sit on the bench, enthusiastically cheering, and encouraging his teammates, even though he could not play.”
Holy Names Academy
Recommended by Megan Diefenbach
Nailah Dodd volunteered in Ethiopia for one month. “This service project placed Nailah in a hospital setting where she administered immunizations to children in Ethiopia, missing four weeks of school in October of her junior year. This experience offered her a very tangible opportunity to serve the medical needs of an impoverished international community, and solidified her internal drive to become a medical doctor,” wrote counselor Megan Diefenbach.
“She is a talented member of our hip hop dance team and is extremely proud of her role as a leader in the Multicultural Student Union. She heeds a very distinct and passionate call to promote cultural awareness here at school, and is widely recognized as a role model in that regard. It is her hope to minor in African studies, specifically the history and culture of the African diaspora,” wrote Diefenbach.
Sehome High School
Recommended by Bobby Stafford
“Perhaps, because his parents were born and raised in South Africa, Phil has been instilled with a deep sense of social and economic justice. … Phil has had several opportunities to experience the disparity of wealth and education in his parents’ homeland,” wrote counselor Bobby Stafford.
“He is an ASB officer and is active in the campus leadership class. He spearheads campus projects and puts in a great deal of time and energy trying to create a diverse and welcoming school.
Several times this year, I have called upon Phil to help with new students who need to have assistance with their first week at a new school. Phil has been enthusiastic, warm, and welcoming when I have introduced the new students to him.”
“Phil has invested time outside of his school’s halls. He has participated in many fundraisers for local organizations. Whatcom Dream Kitchen, the Salvation Army (door-to-door) food collections, and Washington Association for Language Teachers are just a few of the organizations for which Phil has volunteered his time. There are other fundraisers that Phil has participated in. He was a major player in Bring Joy to a Child. This is an event that funds clothing, toys, and other household needs for families that are in need,” wrote Stafford.
Highline High School
Recommended by Lori Box
“Darcey Escamilla has a strong passion for promoting diversity and breaking down cultural barriers,” wrote Lori Box, an activities coordinator and ASB adviser at Highline.
“First of all, Darcey has been an active member in the Latino Club at Highline. She was the treasurer of the club for three years.” Through this club, Escamilla helped plan the first Latino Family Night, a Latino movie night, and she also helped other Latino clubs in the district.
“She has participated as a translator and Hispanic Helper at school district budget meetings and various other events where a translator was needed. She also makes phone calls for the district in Spanish. … Most importantly, Darcy has helped in the Para Los Padres, a newly made team of Latino parents in the district.”
Escamilla recently participated in a student panel at a local elementary school for Latino students, which helps students learn how they can access help from school administrators or teachers when they are struggling.
“She has attended two LEAP conferences in Olympia. She learned more about the Dream Project and brought back information to share regarding education for undocumented students. … Lastly, Darcey tutors ELL students across the school district from elementary school through high school.”
Squalicum High School
Recommended by Aramis Johnson
“One way that Stacey makes a difference is through assisting Shuksan Middle School students in creating a Latino history and culture club. … Stacey believes that this group will help to assist middle school students in discovering the opportunities available to all students,” wrote counselor Aramis Johnson in a recommendation.
“She has been assisting in helping many of our students realize that going to college is not a far-fetched idea, but an attainable goal. She wants our underclassmen to know that she understands the cultural and peer pressure they feel when they are attempting to better themselves. To alleviate this pressure, Stacey assisted in starting a Latino student club called MEChA,” wrote Johnson.
“Stacey believes in improving our Latino graduation rate which is why she has also assisted in orchestrating study sessions for our Latino students after school. … She is also assisting our school with creating a Spanish-speaking parents night. We have never offered this opportunity for our Spanish-speaking parents though it has been a necessity for years.”
Foster High School
Recommended by Andrea Gamboa
Maheleone “Oné” Faalelea was born in American Samoa and moved to Seattle at age 8. She did not receive any ELL services and struggled in a new country and school.
“Oné’s transformation was gradual,” wrote teacher Andrea Gamboa. “She often spoke with our classes about her islands, and what life was like for her growing up there. … Oné became involved with Multicultural Action Committee (MAC). … The idea was to get as many Islanders to join in order to be more successful at school.”
“She grew empowered and transferred that to her work as a leader with MAC and our school. She began dancing at assemblies and concerts. Oné never simply danced, but took every performance as an opportunity to educate people about her culture. After a year in MAC, she co-founded a new club — Educating the Pacific Islander Community (EPIC).”
“When tragedy hit the Pacific Islands this fall, it was Oné and her EPIC group that answered the call to action. … As they met to deal with their feelings, a song emerged.” They recorded a CD, sought support, and shared stories with peers and the community. “Through this tragedy, Oné led her peers and effectively unified not only the Pacific Islander community around this cause, but the entire school. EPIC managed to raise $1,175 to donate to the American Red Cross through their project.”
Holy Names Academy
Recommended by Megan Diefenbach
“I first met with Chanelle Felix about midway through her junior year and what I distinctly recall about that first conversation was her bubbly, enthusiastic demeanor,” wrote counselor Megan Diefenbach.
“Chanelle’s mother returned to the Philippines last year after her grandfather died, leaving many responsibilities to the children. That being said, a great deal of Chanelle’s free time is spent helping to maintain the household and her sisters are part of that effort as well.”
“What I find most interesting about Chanelle Felix is the fact that she is a dedicated student who has a very strong interest in the sciences, but also has an equal passion for two very opposite activities, choir and hip hop dance,” wrote Deifenbach. “She is very proud of the fact that she was raised in a Filipino house (speaking both Ilokano and Tagalog) in a very diverse South Seattle neighborhood. She is very involved in our Multicultural Student Union here at HNA.”
Highline High School
Recommended by Holly Tanhueco
“Tanary has been working in the community with a program called New Futures which supports Latino students and families with tutoring in Spanish and English,” wrote counselor Holly Tanhueco in a recommendation. “She also acted as an advocate for many of those students and families within the schools. Many of the students that she tutored built such a great rapport with Tanary that they would call her at home on nights and weekends to get support with family issues and to ask questions.”
“Additionally, she has volunteered her time to programs such as SeaMar which is a free clinic for Latinos in the community, helping at parades, and with other events. Tanary is also the only Latino student on the Highline High School math team, demonstrating her ability to be a role model to other Latino students in her school,” wrote Tanhueco.
“In addition to taking Advanced Placement classes, Tanary has been in our AVID program for the past three years. … Tanary lives with her older sister who is helping to support all of the siblings in her family due to their parents’ separation and personal challenges. She is responsible for working to help support the family, which she does wholeheartedly without thinking twice about it.”
Squalicum High School
Recommended by Steve Wiley
“Imran Hafiz is the first student in my 23 years of school counseling who has co-authored a book. The book, The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook, is his attempt to empower American Muslim teenagers like him to eradicate adverse stereotypes about Islam in a post-9/11 world,” wrote counselor Steve Wiley. “His former involvements with the Speech & Debate Team at Brophy Prep along with his one hundred plus interviews and public presentations about Islam in America are noteworthy.”
“He is the youngest recipient of a Phoenix Human Relations Commission’s Martin Luther King “Stand Up for Justice” award in 2008. In April 2009, Imran was involved in the “Ethnic Pen” High School Conference in New York City as one of its featured speakers. He is also a founding member and featured speaker at the “ThinkDot” Conference — an Arizona-based forum for Arizona Muslim youth dedicated to defining themselves and broadening their perspectives. Imran also serves as a State Department Cultural Ambassador and participates in quarterly webchat’s with foreign embassies around issues related to diversity. … Plus, Imran has served as an Arizona representative to the LEADD Interfaith Conference.”
Mountlake Terrace High School
Recommended by Colleen Egger
“Alex Herbig, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School, started a program to raise money to feed over 80 people who live off of a garbage dump in Haiti,” wrote counselor Colleen Egger.
“Alex began this program well in advance of the recent tragic earthquake. As part of this program, Alex has challenged the Mountlake Terrace High School community to eat rice and beans the week of Feb. 1–5. He is also asking that the money parents and students save on food and beverages be donated to the program. He hosted a fundraiser on Feb. 6th. Alex is going to travel to Haiti to complete his goal of providing food.”
“Alex is an accomplished student who has taken several Advanced Placement courses and is an excellent soccer player. He has been a student leader on campus and at church where he has volunteered leading youth summer camps. He volunteers 10 hours weekly at Young Life. Alex’s faith is important to him, and he “walks the talk” through his community activism,” wrote Egger.
Perla Reyes Herrera
Rainier Beach High School
Recommended by Dan Jurdy
Perla Reyes Herrera has been an active participant in our school’s multicultural event during her first three years of high school, and has held a chair in the Multicultural Committee at Rainier Beach High School,” wrote counselor Dan Jurdy.
“She was also the artist of the 2007 Multicultural Event. To further understand cultural differences, she has participated in diverse programs such as the Filipino and Asian Student Association club (FASA). She also participated in One World Now! (OWN) … where she learned about becoming a global leader aimed in intercultural understanding,” wrote Jurdy.
“She also attended Concordia Summer Language camp to further understand about the Middle Eastern culture. When she came back, she became a peaceful activist for those who face discrimination based on cultural differences, while promoting cultural diffusion within her own native community but also celebrating cultural differences.”
West Seattle High School
Recommended by Sue Quigley
“Dung is a student whose future I am excited to see unfold,” wrote counselor Sue Quigley in a recommendation. “Coming from a family where her parents did not get to further their education in their native Vietnam, the importance of their children’s education is paramount.” However, there are different expectations based on gender. “The essay she wrote about that very issue made a friend of mine (of Asian descent) have tears in her eyes,” wrote Quigley.
“Dung enjoyed the challenge of calculus and chemistry [classes], even though a death in the family last spring caused major upheaval in her life and her grades suffered. She has bounced back this year and shown that she can overcome great adversity and use it to make herself stronger. She plans on studying international business and is currently the president of Family Career Community Leaders of America. She also holds the position of secretary of the Key Club, a club which engages in community service projects benefiting the diverse West Seattle community.”
The West Seattle High School community service requirement for graduation is 60 hours. “Dung has just completed 1000,” wrote Quigley. “She has volunteered at the Providence Regina House for over five years,” a community food bank.
Holy Names Academy
Recommended by Megan Diefenbach
“Corey was selected to participate in our annual HNA Christian service project in the Dominican Republic this past July (a project I assisted in chaperoning). … Corey’s natural affability was evident in that she was always willing to help out with even the less glamorous tasks, such as mixing the handmade cement, and was consistently up to playing multiple spontaneous games of tag with the local community children,” wrote counselor Megan Diefenbach.
“Having completed AP Spanish in her junior year, Corey really did take on a leadership role within our small group as a translator (among many other roles). I think she was surprised by how much she enjoyed living simply for that week, and I am proud of her for wholeheartedly immersing herself in the Dominican culture,” wrote Diefenbach.
“I know that she has authentically stated that if she had a year to do anything after high school graduation, she would choose to live and work in the Haitian slum of Batey Libertad.”
Nathan Hale High School
Recommended by Jeffrey Jones
“For the past three years, Nneka “Jessica” Iwuoha has served at Poppy’s Café, a shelter for homeless and disadvantaged people. Moreover, last year, she volunteered at a phone bank in support of the state referendum R-71 to recognize same sex domestic partnerships,” wrote counselor Jeffrey Jones.
“At Hale, Jessica has been a key participant in our Diversity Club. She was the leader on the Food Committee for the club’s Bite of Hale,” a cultural food event. “In addition, Jessica has participated in our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day assemblies where she was a member of the flag parade and helped create a video collage of our students and their backgrounds,” wrote Jones.
“Jessica has a mature and global outlook on the world and her place in it. When asked about what diversity means to her, she was quick to respond, ‘I do not see diversity as only a racial issue, but I include the poor, the homeless, and LGBTQ issues.’ ” ♦