By Greg Young
Northwest Asian Weekly
Years ago, entering high school or college, it was hard to believe it could ever happen. But now it has—graduation. Here are some of our remarkable community graduates.
Aleyna has had quite the journey during her time at University of Washington. She’s studied abroad in Rome, volunteered for tsunami relief in Japan, and studied Law, Justice, and Societies as her major. She’s been developing her legal background, which she will use to be working towards a Masters in Jurisprudence, and where she will be among the first students to attend this particular program. She hopes this experience and background will provide a strong support for her to pursue her true passion, which lies in sports management. “I’ve always wanted to be a sports agent and represent football players,” she said. She currently works with a street team for Seattle Seahawks, and she would eventually like to work for the Seahawks. She hopes all these experiences will help her build communities through athletic out reach programs.
A recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, affording her a full ride throughout her undergraduate and graduate career, MinhThu already had those plans mapped out. She is graduating from Hazen High School where she’s already had a series of accomplishments, such as co-founding the student paper “Liberasian,” which is still going strong to this day. She’s passionate about social issues, and plans to attend law school so she can continue making a difference in her community.
A student of Mount Lake Terrace High School who’s also a running start student at Edmonds Community College, Mike is simultaneously graduating from high school and college this year. But his education certainly doesn’t stop there. This summer, Mike will spend three and a half weeks in Africa with seven other students who will become immersed in community building, and then later this fall Mike will attend University of Washington to take all the skills he’s gained and expand on them in the UW Business School. “This last year I received insight on how important business is on communities,” he said. “One day I’d like to use my knowledge to do some consulting, or start my own business.”
Josh is a bioengineering student at the University of Washington. He interned with UW Sports Medicine and worked with men’s soccer and football. When addressed with the question “What drives you?” Pahang writes, “I can’t really summarize what drives me. Some people say their dream career, their organization, their religion, their duty to their country and family. I know I will run into this question numerous times in my life and I myself will never be able to give the perfect answer. That is because I don’t feel like anything in particular drives me. There is nothing I do that inspires me to keep doing it over and over, like Kobe shooting fadeaways or Michelangelo creating art. What inspires me is the answers that others give this question. My unique leadership identity isn’t my ability to inspire others, but the ability to be deeply inspired by others. I’m a listener, collaborator, problem-solver…all different ways of helping others fulfill their dreams. I love nothing more than to hear someone pour their heart out and find their vision, and all I want to do in my life is help those visions come true… I’m just along for the ride, ready to jump out and change a tire if necessary, but just enjoying the company of being a fellow human being.”
University of Washington senior Benjamin Lee hopes to play a part in finding a peaceful resolution. A finalist this year for the Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellowship, he researches the similarities and differences between inter-Korean and cross-strait relations. Fluency in Korean, Mandarin and English granted him access to a wider variety of sources during his research, including primary documents and even in-person interviews during his study abroad year in Taipei, Taiwan. With support from the UW Early Identification Program Presidential Scholarship and the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, he presented his Honors thesis on Taiwanese and South Korean diplomacy at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. At the UW he immersed himself in The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies classes to help “contextualize the Korean conflict in a regional and global sense” and to deepen his understanding of international conflicts. He is pursuing departmental honors in international studies and in Chinese, for which he received a FLAS Fellowship in 2012-13.
Jessica Wang was an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering. She plans to take a gap year to work, learn, and experience the real world before re-entering the life of a student in medical school. Wang writes, “These past four years went by really fast…college was more than getting grades and doing schoolwork. Looking back, I feel some of the most valuable experiences I have had were the ones where we stuck our nose into something we were curious about.”
Varsha Govindaraju is a senior student majoring in anthropology and law, societies, and justice with minors in human rights and diversity at UW. She was recently selected as a 2015-16 Luce Scholar. A graduate of Federal Way Public Academy, Govindaraju is one of only 18 students nationwide to receive the award this year. The Luce Scholars Program is a major national scholarship designed to raise awareness of Asia among young American leaders and funds a stipend and language training, and places scholars in professional worksites in Asia. This year, more than 156 candidates were recommended by 16 nominating institutions. At 18 years old, Govindaraju is this year’s youngest Luce Scholar. Her intellect and curiosity found an outlet in the Honors Program and at the Robinson Center for Young Scholars.
Taking the experiences she’s gained during her time at Forest Ridge High School, Justina Wu is taking those experiences and moving forward to Pomona College in California and push herself even further. Justina is more than ready to take on the challenges of higher education. She spent many hours volunteering at a teen crisis center called “Teen Link,” where she served as a phone operator, assisting teens in crisis, was a member of the board, and was an outreach worker. “I’ve developed a a lifelong interest in social justice and political issues, and that’s what’s been driving me, and shaping my career goals.” (end)
Greg Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.