Congratulations to the 2022 ATG Scholarship Winners!

Through our Scholarship Program, ATG proudly awards Artistic, Groundbreaker Leadership, #LiveLikeLyly, Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur and the newly founded Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E Scholarships to a select group of exemplary Asian American high school seniors, college undergraduates, and graduate school students who are shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain.  Our selection committee reviews a combination of criteria: GPA, extracurricular activities, portfolio, essay, letters of recommendation and even video submissions. Top finalists are given a phone interview.  In 2022, ATG will award $12,500 in scholarships to nine outstanding students. Since the program’s beginning in 2011, ATG has awarded $110,000 in scholarships to 70 exceptional AAPI students across the nation.

The Scholarships Committee was led by Co-Directors of Community Outreach Hue Dao and Lisa Tran. Hue Dao has served on the Board since she was a college graduate. Said Hue, “This was another great year for ATG Scholarships, with nearly 200 applications from all across the country. I’ve been a part of the scholarship committee since its inception in 2011 and still, every year I am moved with a new wave of inspiration from these young leaders. I choose to stay a part of this process for over 10 years now because it keeps me in the loop of ‘What’s next?’ This year we had the new addition of the Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship, which provided an additional avenue for us to give. Our varied scholarship offerings attract an impressive diversity of backgrounds and disciplines. Community is a core value of the AAPI community and these young people are actively participating and creating pathways for us to be more connected. I believe it’s important that we continue to support those who are paving a way for others. Thank you to our donors for helping us make these opportunities possible.

Lisa Tran also serves as ATG’s Advisor to Thailand and professionally as Managing Director of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at SMU Cox School of Business. Said Lisa, “The caliber of the applicants keeps rising every year, and this year was no exception.  I had the privilege of interviewing the 16 finalists and were not only impressed with their academic, artistic/leadership skills, but more importantly, their dedication to advancing their respective AAPI communities. I left the interviews inspired, energized, and hopeful because of the passion this next generation of AAPI leaders bring to making our country a more inclusive place.  Thank you to our donors and scholarship namesakes who support AAPI students who demonstrate exceptional artistic and leadership skills. One of the highlights of every year is reviewing the ATG Scholarship applications and meeting the finalists during the interview process. I continue to be blown away by their academic achievements, but more importantly, what they plan to do with their education. Whether it is through art, leadership, or entrepreneurship, I am grateful to be a part of the scholarship recipients’ academic journey and excited to see what they will accomplish professionally.

Carol Nguyen has served on the ATG Scholarship Review Committee for several years. Said Carol, “I am always proud to be part of ATG’s annual Scholarship Review Committee, because we gain insight about the younger generation, learn what they are passionate about, and what steps they are already taking to initiate change. As technology and open source information continue to advance and grow, it is exciting to see how candidates use these available resources to effectively share their stories and activate others. Our 5 scholarships attracted more than 200 applicants, which reveals how important these funds are to help them apply their critical thinking towards an original thought or to solve a unique problem. We are always happy to give them this podium to share their story and success.”

A longtime Board Member, this was Sharon Chan’s first time serving on our Scholarship Review Committee.  Said Sharon, “This year’s candidates were both diverse and extremely accomplished. It’s a joy to get to be a small part of the scholarship review process and get to learn about some of the amazing work that these student leaders are doing. ATG provides an avenue for funding for future leaders, artists, and groundbreakers in our community, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of our scholarship candidates.”

Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG Co-Founder/President, helped create these unique scholarships more than a decade ago with the intention of supporting AAPI youth and giving hope. Said Tammy, “This year’s impressive winners truly stand out for their level of awareness to their own identity, to the world, and the part that they can play in improving it. They embody the spirit of this organization.  As always, we are incredibly proud of them and look forward to all the great things they will do. I am personally very grateful for the dedication and hard work of our scholarship review committee of Hue Dao, Lisa Tran, Carol Nguyen, Sharon Chan, as well as generous scholarship donors and partners Ranier and Grace Pabilona and Thear Sy Suzuki, and countless supporters who allow us to continue this important work that will impact a generation and help us keep alive the spirit of what it means to go Against The Grain.” 

We are thrilled to announce this year’s exceptional nine winners…

    • Gina Bae – Artistic Scholarship
    • Annika Crawford – Artistic Scholarship
    • Jackie Hung – #LiveLikeLyly Artistic Scholarship
    • Shreya Shivakumar – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Peter Pham – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Brooke Chow – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Lily Chen – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Danica Leung – Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E
    • Leo Zhou – Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E

Gina Bae | Palo Alto, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 3.88 | Rhode Island School of Design | Illustration | Korean American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Growing up surrounded by cautionary tales about starving artists, I nearly succumbed to the common mindset that labeled art as a hobby, a line in a well-rounded resume at best and a waste of precious time at worst — until I joined a nearby art studio. There, conversations with art history professors, aspiring animators, product designers and gallery artists opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities. Going Against The Grain means challenging the traditional thinking that I grew up with, seeking other perspectives to broaden my worldview, and taking risks to pursue what I truly love.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“In addition to challenging a typical career path, I go Against The Grain by amplifying disadvantaged voices and different viewpoints through my journalism and artwork.

In every article I wrote in my school’s newspaper, I discovered a human story worth telling and exposed readers to the diverse perspectives of university student activists, veterans, student sexual assault survivors, and countless other members of our community.

As I created journalistic illustrations, I found that a canvas or Procreate file was just as effective at telling such stories.

Through my art, I spread awareness about issues I was passionate about, whether with an editorial cartoon depicting Hong Kong’s deteriorating press freedom or a newspaper spread design/illustration discussing our school’s Title IX process.

And with pieces exploring topics like cultural dissonance, the oversexualization of teenage girls, and the complexity of race as both a unifying and divisive factor, I embraced the vulnerability of sharing my own experience as a second generation Korean American girl growing up in a divided nation — after all, how could I advocate amplifying Asian voices in the arts if I didn’t join in myself?”

 


Annika Crawford | Washington Crossing, PA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.11 | Tufts University | Studio Arts + Undecided | Taiwanese/Caucasian American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain means forgetting the grain entirely. Believing in roads paved by stereotype—whether hating or loving them—maintains their existence. I rebel through indifference.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by disregarding expectations. I serve at my local fire department as the only Asian woman. I witness about my Christian faith in my secular classes. I pen a myriad of articles in my school newspaper — the ethics of holograms, prison art, and Tropicália — the latter of which won “Best Culture Article” in the Yale Daily News High School Symposium.

Most of all, I go Against The Grain by pursuing truth through art. I seek the unseen parts of life and paint my impressions. My art therefore gives viewers a lens to better see the world and themselves — and consequently, through the aesthetic of an Asian girl in suburbia. I know this aesthetic is rare in the art world, but not unusual in life. For too long, the mainstream has hesitated to feature Asians, under the notion they are uninteresting and unrelatable to Americans, but the face of America is changing. As I pursue studio arts at Tufts University, I hope to create art that resonates with this change, and reflects our ambiguity, depth, and shared humanity.”

 


Jackie Hung | Rolling Hills Estates, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | University of Southern California | Design | Chinese American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain means having the courage to pursue a path that deviates from conventional expectations. It means to set an example for those that follow and to welcome any backlash that may come with going against what is considered the “norm.” These actions mean standing firm behind my convictions, even if they do not align with the majority. Going Against The Grain does not necessarily mean seeking controversy, but allowing yourself to see the world in a different light and acting upon it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“As a girl who always sought out adventure and challenge, I decided to join the Boy Scouts of America when the program first opened to women in February 2019, over a century after the organization’s founding.

I was excited to be a part of this transition despite the many who disapproved. I experienced hostility from male Scouts, male leaders, and most surprisingly, from many women. Upon founding our all-girls troop, we immediately felt the pressure to keep pace and perform better than our male peers, despite not having the same foundational training. At times, this pressure to perform perfectly seemed to undermine my efforts to simply represent this organization.

As a member of the first ever class of female Eagle Scouts in the nation, I cannot help but take pride in my efforts that got me here. My initiative, leadership, and determination to reach Eagle rank were essential for me to succeed in this organization. My work, alongside the contributions of every member regardless of gender, has undoubtedly helped to reshape the BSA into the inclusive program it is today.”

 


Shreya Shivakumar | Edison, NJ | 19 years old | GPA: 4.08 | Barnard College of Columbia University | Political Science | South Asian (Indian) American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“To go Against The Grain is to lead with purpose, spearheading efforts to make a positive impact while staying true to one’s essential values. My passion for public service has led me to advocate for the needs of under-resourced communities while inspiring others to prioritize inclusivity and kindness in their community involvement. Effective changemakers use the unique perspective of their life experiences to fuel their actions. My work as a social entrepreneur has motivated me to pursue a career as an attorney and use the law to advance meaningful social change by defending civil rights.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Founding Nourish America was my first step in going Against The Grain to create a movement that would make nutritious and allergy-safe food available to all. I centered my nonprofit organization around providing enough healthy food to families and children and being considerate of their unique needs in the process. Additionally, my work in the anti-hunger sphere inspired me to found Allergies For Kids, a project to educate children about food allergy safety. Any initiative that aims to go Against The Grain requires demonstrating genuine care and consideration for the sustained well-being of others, and I hope to inspire this value in young people through my work.”

 


Peter Pham | San Jose, CA | 23 years old | GPA: 3.73 | University of California, Berkeley | Molecular Environmental Biology &  Public Health | Vietnamese American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“For me, going Against The Grain means building up the courage to make difficult but ultimately the best choices, even if it is unpopular, goes against the norms, and is contrary to what feels safe in the moment for a person. It means understanding the values and rules we live with, rather than being complacent, and being willing to work to change the rules when they no longer work. We ought to reflect on our place and actions, stand up for what we believe is right, and be ready to face the forces moving against us.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Before I found the words “Against The Grain,” I’ve been practicing this motto throughout my life.

After graduating from a competitive high school where everyone was expected to attend a four-year university, I chose to attend a community college. To my immigrant parents who never made it past grade school, this decision felt like a death-knell for my success. I didn’t go straight to a four-year university to get a good job. I took an alternate route that allowed me the space to support my family, become a community leader, and shape our world through changed policies, emergency authorized vaccines, and touched lives.

More recently, while the youngest redistricting commissioner on a panel of 15 people that included a former Vice-Mayor, healthcare CEO, and school board trustee, I was known to ask the toughest questions to members of the public, which triggered frustration and chagrin. In one case, a major interest group proposed a map that seemed to violate the Voting Rights Act. While other commissioners stayed quiet, I challenged them to clarify their process, which the chair (and former Vice-Mayor) said saved the commission from lawsuits and accusations of bias. ”

 


Brooke Chow | Raleigh, NC | 20 years old | GPA: 3.8 | UNC Chapel Hill | Business Administration and Management | Chinese American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain is identifying issues around us and actively working to address them, even if it means going against the status quo. It means speaking bolding and unapologetically, and recognizing that you have the power to shape history — and not be passively shaped by it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“After noticing many local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, I knew I wanted to help. The businesses that struggled the most were typically local businesses and we wanted to support these business owners, especially because many of them were unique to North Carolina. By working specifically with a target market that didn’t have much prior experience navigating the digital landscape, which was especially important during the pandemic, we successfully helped dozens of businesses stay afloat by consulting with them and providing digital solutions that would solve their problems.

I go Against The Grain by bringing local businesses into the digital generation and providing long-term solutions that ensure their longevity.”

 


Lily Chen | Basking Ridge, NJ | 19 years old | GPA: 4.0 | MIT | Mathematics with Computer Science | Chinese American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“To me, going Against The Grain means pushing relentlessly to create changes that you believe in, regardless of obstacles.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by building free technological solutions and apps for others and by empowering women in technology!”

 

 


Danica Leung | Portland, OR | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Emory University | Political Science and Anthropology | Chinese-American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain is about defying expectations and choosing your own path. It’s sticking true to one’s own values and pursuing a passion even if it’s not conventional.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I’m pursuing my dream of political advocacy both through my studies and my extracurricular efforts. It’s important to me to lead any and all initiatives for change with a humanistic, equity-focused perspective. My activism, whether it’s getting out the vote or lobbying for immigration reform, is informed by my intersectional identity; and rather than see that as a minus because I am a minority, I see it as a plus for making me a better, stronger advocate.”

 


Leo Zhou | Sugar Land, TX | 18 years old | GPA: 3.95 | University of Texas (Turing Honors) | Computer Science | Chinese American

What does it mean to go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain means taking risks, trying new things, and pushing your limits to create something beyond anyone’s expectations. To me, “the grain” is the box I’m contained in, the box of my comfort zone I must break through to achieve my true potential. Although it was frightening, learning to go Against The Grain is something that has been a critical component of my growth as both a leader and an individual.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Due to COVID-19, the last quarter of classes during the 2019-2020 school year was canceled. Moreover, classes moved fully online, and instruction was shortened significantly for the entirety of the following school year, causing 60% more students to fail compared to pre-pandemic.

Seeing this downward shift in academic performance, in July 2020, I decided to go Against The Grain. Having no leadership experience, the thought of management terrified me, but I knew I had to try. I researched ways to help and discovered Aerovate, a small nonprofit organization offering free online 1-1 tutoring, and started my own chapter. Over the next two years, I grew as a leader, became confident in myself, and learned to always take the jump.

During this time, I took part in my most ambitious project yet: an international AMC 8 (contest math) virtual summer camp. During the camp, I and my team taught students major contest concepts, walked through problems, and implemented a mock contest for prizes.

Today, Aerovate Houston has grown to 200 members and has given over 15000 volunteer hours, leaving an everlasting impact. By going Against The Grain, I have become an assertive leader and role model.”

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