Compiled by Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly
Northwest Asian Weekly’s 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. From among those students, 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 30 at New Hong Kong Restaurant. To buy tickets, visit diversity.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org. Each week, leading up to the dinner, we will publish a batch of short profiles of the nominees, in no particular order.
Senior at Sehome High School
Nominated by Julie Kratzig
“Mahina is well rounded,” Sehome counselor Julie Kratzig wrote in a letter of recommendation. “She has traveled to France and Peru. This travel speaks of her love of languages. In France, she traveled up the coast, stayed with a family, surrounded herself with the culture, and increased her French language skills. In Peru, Mahina volunteered on a conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon.”
“In today’s world of internet and satellites, the globe is becoming progressively smaller and interconnected,” Kaholokula wrote in her personal essay. “In such a world, communication between cultures becomes increasingly important.
In global politics and in business alike, it is critical to understand and respect one another across borders. Accepting and appreciating diversity is essential to meet these ends.”
Senior at Sehome High School
Nominated by Kip Jones
“Lauren has been involved in our Literature and Arts Club, Orchestra, Student Council, and Global Awareness and Outreach Club,” Sehome counselor Kip Jones wrote in a letter of recommendation. “She has learned how to time manage very well and is able to be an integral part of all of these groups.
The trait I think will serve Lauren best in college is her love of learning. The large amount of clubs, athletics, and academics that she has completed are done with such a positive attitude and passion.”
“Have you ever upended a Lego kit onto the floor?” Pittis wrote in her personal essay. “You’ve seen the picture on the front, and you know what it’s supposed to look like, but the hundreds of little pieces scattered all over the floor look nothing like the glossy picture. It’s not until you begin to put the pieces together that you start to see the promised shape begin to unfold in front of your eyes.
That’s why diversity is important. We are the Lego pieces scattered all over this earth, waiting to build spectacular shapes. And you cannot build anything that will last with pieces that are all the same size, shape, and form. You need variety. You need diversity.”
Senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School
Nominated by Joan Spears
“Students like Kristia Dizon do not enter my classroom every year,” Edmonds-Woodway teacher Joan Spears wrote in a letter of recommendation. “It is rare to find a high school student who possesses such a strong commitment to deadlines, expectations, and quality. … She brings a constant awareness of integrity and values to the classroom that allows her to be a role model for other students struggling with issues.”
“In sharing my knowledge of this profound respect, I have been involved in the mixed and multicultural club at my school since 10th grade,” Dizon wrote in a personal essay. “I am currently the vice president of the club,” added Dizon. “My goal, as a leader, is to spread cultural awareness throughout my school, starting with the small group of students involved in the club. In order to do this, I help in planning the club’s annual hunger awareness banquet in which guests assimilate the experience of those in third world countries.”
Senior at Holy Names Academy
Nominated by Alice Tanaka
“Meena is a bright, responsible young lady who comes from a multicultural background with her father being a Fijian-Indian and her mother being a Chicana,” Holy Names Counselor Alice Tanaka wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Meena is active in our Multicultural Student Union (MSU). … This year, she and another club member organized a meeting with the theme of ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom,’ based on the novel.”
“Being both multiracial and multicultural, I have always been aware of the ethnicities of the people around me and I have strived to surround myself with people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds,” Montero-Singh wrote in her personal essay. “Since middle school, I have participated in racial focus groups and clubs. In high school, I have been a leader in my high school’s MSU for two years. … I am now able to recognize the diversity of those around me with a renewed sense of awareness I am sure will continuously evolve.”
Senior at Squalicum High School
Nominated by Aramis Johnson
“Jyoti has helped raise funds to help a Honduran student’s family pay to ship their father’s body home for funeral services,” Squalicum counselor Aramis Johnson wrote in a letter or recommendation. “Jyoti is meeting with our administration to discuss the need to improve the faculty and staff’s understanding of diversity and the need for diversity training. … In the summer of 2010, Jyoti traveled to India and spent a month volunteering in orphanages. … Literally the day of the Japanese tsunami, Jyoti took the initiative and started a donation drive to send money to Red Cross.”
“Two years ago, our club United Diversity teamed up with another club MEChA and organized a march to show support of immigration reform and to support undocumented members of our community,” Parmar wrote in her personal essay. “In this event, I wanted to convey that this issue wasn’t only a ‘Mexican’ issue, but an issue of human rights and even racism, and I was happy to see that a lot of members from our community agreed. Right now, I am the only non-Latino member of MEChA to show that students don’t have to be a part of a diversity group to support or be an ally in their causes.”
Senior at Juanita High School
Nominated by Laurie Chesley
“For her semester final requirement of teaching the class for 30 minutes, Kelsey chose to research and teach about the organization Free the Children, which led to that organization being chosen by the Multicultural Club as the beneficiary of the proceeds from our annual variety show,” Juanita English and Social Studies teacher Laurie Chesley wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Kelsey is active in Spanish club, Interact club, and is co-president of the Multicultural Club.”
“The summer before my eighth grade year, my soccer team decided to take a trip to Italy,” Glenn wrote in her personal essay. “In Lake Como, Italy, my team participated in a tournament that consisted of only two other teams due to the lack of clubs in the area. While in Switzerland, we were talking to the opposing team after our game and they were explaining to us how they have to train and play with boys because most girls their age are not involved in soccer. … This opened my eyes to the fact that such a simple game of soccer, played for the pure enjoyment of the sport, can create this segregation. This makes me very thankful for the opportunities I have been given throughout my childhood and all of the lessons I have learned from this amazing game.”
Senior at Squalicum High School
Nominated by Jose Rodriguez
“Caitlin has and is currently a volunteer coaching with the Bellingham Special Olympic Team, specifically in softball, basketball, and soccer,” Jose Rodriguez, a Bellingham Special Olympic coach and Spanish teacher, wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Caitlin is great at it and is not afraid to get involved and personally interact with our athletes. We have two to three students volunteer with us each season and most students are doing it for a project or to rack up volunteer hours. Often, the coaches can tell that the student volunteers do not truly care and this is more of an assignment for them. There are even students who fail to leave their prejudices at home and fear engaging with the athletes. Caitlin is not one of those students.”
“The most fulfilling thing I have ever been a part of is being an assistant coach for Special Olympics,” Bailey wrote in a personal essay. “I believe I have made my community a better place to live in by working with different types of people, and making the effort to step out of my comfort zone, which normally people do not do. I know that people, even if they may be a little different than me, are more like me in so many ways. This experience will forever be near and dear to my heart.”
Senior at Roosevelt High School
Nominated by Cora H. Mackoff
“Margaret has started two clubs at Roosevelt, [one of which is] the Middle East Club, which brings the cultures of the Middle East together with film, food, language, and fun,” Cora Mackoff, Roosevelt High School department head, wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Margaret was awarded a position as a candidate for the Youth Ambassador Program Exchange in Brazil last summer.”
“By sophomore year, I had become fascinated with what was foreign territory,” Kahn wrote in a personal essay. “At synagogue, we celebrated Israel, but never directly addressed the conflict. … Searching for the unknown led to studying Arabic twice a week after school with a local nonprofit, OneWorld Now. … I was the first Jew many of the Somali teenagers had met, and I shocked them with my eagerness to know their culture.”
“Frustrated by ignorance, I founded a Middle East Culture Club at Roosevelt High School,” added Kahn. “Even if I only affected a few curious students, this forum gave me the opportunity to educate others to respect differences in communities.”
Senior at Issaquah High School
Nominated by Melanie Bonanno
“Camille ‘Dori’ Skinner took advantage of the opportunity to study in France for her junior year, through the Rotary Exchange program,” Issaquah counselor Melanie Bonanno wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Outside of the classroom, she has been an active member of Interact, Drama, and Multicultural Clubs.”
“I grew up with a third-generation Japanese American mother and an open-minded father with ancestors from Western Europe and the Cherokee Nation,” Skinner wrote in her personal essay. “With them, I actively participated in cultural traditions with my extended family, including mochi-making, copious New Year’s feasts, and Bon Odori festivals to honor my ancestors. Throughout elementary school, I attended a French immersion school and in doing so developed a proficiency in French and made friends from around the globe. In high school, I joined the Multicultural Club and helped organize Multicultural Night and a field trip to an Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle.”
“Diversity is important because prejudice is an incredibly difficult thing to overcome,” added Skinner.
Senior at Chief Sealth High School
Nominated by Marta Sanchez
“How is Andry a diversity leader?” Chief Sealth’s administrative secretary Marta Sanchez wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Andry leads by example. … Even when he injured his back helping care for his father at home, he was committed to making the grades that would ensure him being on the National Honor Society. … He will speak up if he feels someone is being treated unjustly, even if just to comment, “That isn’t right.”
“We as human beings need different perspectives on life and its meaning,” Xevandry wrote in his personal essay. “We need to know how others feel about certain matters to fully understand situations. We need to know the different opinions that go into things to decide whether something is humorous or rude. … Without diversity, people would misunderstand a lot more and be full of ignorance. I’m not saying that people who don’t have diverse surroundings or cultures are just plain ignorant, but can be missing a lot of different views and backgrounds, being forever unaware, which can lead to ignorance.” (end)
For more information, visit diveristy.nwasianweeklyfoundation.org.