Tag: aapi scholarships

Congratulations to the 2021 ATG Scholarship Winners

Through our Scholarship Program, ATG proudly awards Artistic, Groundbreaker Leadership, #LiveLikeLyly, and the Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarships to a select group of amazing 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, and letters of recommendation. Finalists are given a phone interview.  In 2021, ATG awarded $14,500 in scholarships to nine outstanding students. Since 2011, we have awarded $97,500 in scholarships to more than 60 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, “We are fortunate to not only witness the talent and creativity of these amazing students but also be proud that these students are representing the Asian American community. They are excellent leaders, present fresh perspectives, and challenge the status quo. Not only are they creating pathways for themselves but blazing paths for others.”

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, “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.

Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG Co-Founder/President, helped create these unique scholarships a decade ago with the intention of supporting AAPI youth and giving hope. Said Tammy, “Ten years ago, we started this scholarship with a small dream to give back to the next generation. After reaching our scholarship’s 10th anniversary milestone, we look back on all the students we have been able to help and see the ripple effect. It is gratifying to see the bravery, courage and innovation in their projects, their career choices, and how they are continuing to pay it forward –  in effect how much they are going Against The Grain.  This year’s winners are an inspiring group – thoughtful, socially conscious, strong, creative, and compassionate. 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, and Ann Chao Sheu, as well as generous scholarship donors like Bruce and Pat McRae, Ranier and Grace Pabilona, and countless supporters for helping us keep alive the spirit of what it means to go Against The Grain. We look forward to the next decade and what good we can do together.”

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

    • Brittney Bautista – Artistic Scholarship
    • Saxon Kennedy – Artistic Scholarship
    • Joe Bun Keo – Artistic Scholarship
    • James Koga – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • AnhPhu Nguyen – Lily Pabilona Emerging Entrepreneur Scholarship
    • Isabella Nguyen – McCrae Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship
    • Evelyn Liu – #LiveLikeLyly Artistic Scholarship
    • Rose Van Dyne – Artistic Scholarship
    • Olivia Zalecki – Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

Brittney Bautista | Lake Hopatcong, NJ | 20 years old | GPA: 3.769 | Pratt Institute | Film/Video Studies | Filipina 

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

“To me, going Against The Grain means challenging the norm, rejecting conformity, and taking risks. As an Asian American, I define this by taking the leap of pursuing an artistic career- a choice that is not normally favored in Asian communities. Going Against The Grain  means going against stereotypes; mustering the courage to reach for anything I desire, and not allowing myself to be defined by others. From an artistic perspective, going Against The Grain means doing the unexpected; being ambitious, and pushing the limits of what I can create. ”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“As an artist, I go Against The Grain by going out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to create art that is completely vulnerable, intimate, and personal. Meshing mediums, combining genres of film, and playing with unconventional framing and lighting are all ways I go against the grain as a filmmaker. Furthermore, as an Asian American woman, I refuse to be classified as quiet, meek, and subservient. Rather, I will continue to amplify my voice through my art, take up space, and encourage young Asian women like myself to take charge in the film industry. After decades of oppression, it is time that we, Asian Americans, stand up for ourselves and encourage our community to pursue a career in the field they are truly passionate about regardless of judgment from others. Through my art, I hope to break boundaries and Asian stereotypes one film at a time.”

 


Saxon Kennedy | Davie, FL | 18 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Berklee College of Music | Songwriting/Music | Filipina 

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

“A person who goes Against The Grain pushes against their personal, physical, and social restraints to attempt something new and impactful. When I make music, I push myself and the people around me to use my art as a medium for helping people—whether that be through socially-conscious messaging in my original music, providing free music to young children, or performing benefit concerts for local charities. In all of my work, I try not only to push the boundaries of my music but to do so in a way that helps my community.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Music is a language that connects communities. My musical perseverance has been a source of joy in my life that connects me to so many people around me. These connections have shaped my presence as a musician committed to going Against the Grain.

My most precious musical memories were made through teaching music to others. In my school’s Sagemont Synergy music program, I realized the powerful role of a musical mentor as I sat down after school to teach my peers musical arrangements for our shows. I am grateful that I was able to take my mentorship to a new level by helping young children grow in the Sagemont Siblings mentorship program. It was here that I grew as a leader and advocate of youth empowerment through education, taking initiative to provide kids with free musical lessons every week.

Through my acts of service to my community, I have learned that one person’s music can be an act of greater community at the local level and beyond. I will forever be a leader, a collaborator, a friend, a mentor, and an artist committed to going Against The Grain to affect positive change.”

 


Joe Bun Keo | Hartford, CT | 34 years old | GPA: 3.5 | Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University | Art and Visual Studies | Cambodian/Khmer

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

“I’m not against grain, I love rice! All jokes aside, going Against The Grain just means marching to the beat of your own drum, doing things your way.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“My way is to break the chain of the inter-generational trauma of my upbringing and use the experience to educate my fellow Cambodian Americans about mental health awareness. The task-oriented, rigid, and often cold, distant parenting of Asian parents takes an emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll on us. With my conceptual work, I try to present issues stemming from the effects of this toxic, hostile, and abusive situation using everyday objects as vessels. The items, commodities, and materials become a lightning rod, a place to have that hard introspective discussion of that is what happened and this is how I can stop it from continuing. It’s being vulnerable for the sake of saving the future.”

 


James Koga | Irvine, CA | 18 years old | GPA: 4.4 | Cornell University | Music & Public Policy | Korean and Japanese American

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

“My family has a history of silence. Silence became a tool of erasure for my Japanese American grandfather who never spoke about his removal from U.C. Berkeley and incarceration at Tule Lake. Likewise, my dad never shared his father’s WWII history. Grandpa Sumio’s generation was called the “Quiet Americans.” I inherited my family’s quiet ways. I’ve been a listener, an observer. For this, my teachers called me a “role model.” Against The Grain means breaking from family history and society’s perspective of the “model” Asian American and speaking up for the issues that I care deeply about.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I went Against The Grain the day I stood up to an abusive teacher and his months of bullying my classmates and me. I couldn’t stay silent any longer. I spoke to my principal. I spoke on record to my resource officer and defended an unfairly expelled classmate. I was no longer the “quiet Asian” kid. With my newfound voice, I became one of the first Braver Angels high school representatives in the country and promoted this grassroots organization’s goal of engaging students in political depolarization through civil discourse. As a Taco Bell Foundation Live Mas Scholar, I’ve become an advocate for connecting people through communication. Most proudly, as the founder of The Hip Hop Workshop, I’ve promoted rap and poetry as an avenue for self-expression for kids and adults alike. Sponsored by The Dragon Kim Foundation, my social entrepreneurship project has helped people tell their personal stories about racial identity, depression, homelessness, and gender identity. Through the medium of the spoken word, I’ve used my voice to give voice to others. By going Against The Grain, I am making a difference as a leader, an advocate, and a positive role model.”

 


AnhPhu Nguyen | Papillion, NE | 18 years old | GPA: 4.491 | Harvard University | Computer Science | Vietnamese

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

“To me, “Going Against the Grain” means to be willing to do things others aren’t willing to do in order to improve yourself and the community around you. It means making the sacrifice, and doing the work in the present, so that your future self and the world you leave behind is better than when you found it.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Being a first-generation student and immigrant to the U.S., my parents can only land low-level jobs as a janitor and a nail tech. Seeing them work so hard, yet still struggling to provide for us let alone buy us electronics motivated me to make an affordable, reliable option to access electronics, and become financially stable. I go Against The Grain by starting my own business, Phu’s Phone Emporium, instead of getting a normal minimum-wage job. I went Against The Grain by teaching myself how to fix phones, and growing my company myself to over $280,000 in sales in less than two years. Going Against The Grain for me also means improving my overall community through my business. I’ve donated phones and tablets to families in need, so they can access online school or contact their families. I’ve donated hundreds of dollars to poor families in Vietnam as well as over $1,000 to nonprofits dedicated to providing free tech access here in Omaha. Improving my community also means making an affordable, quality, and reliable option to access technology for Omaha locals; I go Against The Grain by beating my competitors’ prices $30-150 on almost every repair. *Company Page: fb.me/phus.phones”

 


Isabella Nguyen | Arlington, TX | 17 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Emory University | Pre-Med Biology | Vietnamese

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

“Going Against The Grain means to challenge the standards and expectations imposed on you to express, exceed, and excel. Throughout my experiences, going Against The Grain  was not a picture-perfect process; it required time and discovery to find the road less traveled on where I still felt comfortable. Against The Grain is more than just finding new strengths. It’s forging new paths, redefining yourself, and igniting a passion for future leaders as well.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain, I was enraptured by the impact my actions have and memories my thoughts can manifest.

Founding a non-profit, I advocate/combat stigmas surrounding women’s health by providing free period products to low-income women. Earning numerous leadership positions in 12+ school organizations, I optimize responsibility to foster communal growth. Leading volleyball teams, I encourage communication as captain. Coaching middle school/club volleyball, I utilize experience to build character/skill in ambitious players. Establishing my core mediation research, I promote environmental sustainability. Administering care at health camps and to impoverished communities in Vietnam, I implement my passion on a global scale. Volunteering 200+ hours and founding my own Asian heritage club—Summit Association of Asian/Middle-Eastern Scholars—I forge connections.

Change requires action, change requires perseverance, and change requires an idea; as I grow I hope to expand the script to include the voices of the unheard I’ve experienced as an Asian-American woman. As I go Against The Grain I work to become an ophthalmologist and researcher to lead global expeditions to serve those in need.”

 


Evelyn Liu | Parsippany, NJ | 27 years old | GPA: 3.4 | New York School of Interior Design | MFA Interior Design | Shanghainese-Taiwanese

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

“To go Against The Grain is about confronting the status quo. It means on top of identifying and magnifying an issue, one must also take action in the face of possible rejection or lack of interest. Going Against The Grain is not a comfortable choice but the rewards that lie beyond the initial discomfort are certainly worth it. And what is “worth” the challenge is rising above those that haven’t seen your vision and confidently taking your own stand on an issue- that is how you create change, no matter how small it may be.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“While I am certainly not the first to pursue sustainable interior design (nor am I the last) by actively choosing to place people over profit, I am going Against The Grain. In what I have observed from the deepening industrialized global state, it is very easy to forget that the end-user is a living, breathing human being in the pursuit of power, money, or status. We not only lose our connection to and compassion for each other, but we also ultimately lose our humanity. Despite all that’s happened within these past few years, I still believe that we as a society do have a chance to overcome these challenges. By integrating “slow design” into the public consciousness and by actively promoting the use and development of renewable materials in commercial interior design projects, one can still prioritize human-environmental harmony. Furthermore, as an artist, I have plenty of experience as an outsider and create works that document emotions that are taboo or unconventional. My work may not have mass appeal, but I continue to make those works in the hope that my art can be relatable for those who have had similar feelings or experiences.”

 


Rose Van Dyne | Fort Collins, CO | 25 years old | GPA: 3.89 | Boston Conservatory at Berklee | MFA MT Vocal Pedagogy | Korean-American

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

“Going Against The Grain means to have the courage and bravery to forge a new path ahead, even when it seems like all odds are against you. It means to acknowledge the lives of those who came before you who wanted to take the road less traveled, but couldn’t. It means to choose joy and compassion in all components of the life you are creating for yourself. Defying the status quo is both a privilege and a duty; an everlasting pursuit to be true to ourselves! May we all be so lucky to go Against The Grain.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I go Against The Grain by amplifying the voices of historically marginalized communities in an industry that has long favored the stories of the colonizers. We often hear that art is a reflection of society, but I believe that the opposite can be true. Art can serve as a catalyst to change the minds and hearts of those who make up our society. Through continued work to provide greater representation and education of our Global Majority populations on the silver screen and Broadway stage, we inch closer to a more equitable and empathetic culture that includes ALL people.

As an educator, it has become ever more apparent that the Western ideal is the standard from which all other perspectives and cultures deviate. By changing the narrative of what constitutes as standard casting, repertoire, representation, etc. we allow space for new voices to be heard and finally have a seat at the table. Particularly as an Asian American and the daughter of an immigrant, I am honored to play a part in the changing of the telling of the American story; one that finally can include and center people who look like me.”

 


Olivia Zalecki | Charlotte, NC | 24 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Columbia University | Sociology | Chinese

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

“To go Against The Grain means to acknowledge and ‘sit with’ societies’ discomforts, fears and injustices- then confront them. It is a path built by constructing your sense of self-worth, critically and thoughtfully examining the world in which we inhabit and challenging all the assumptions we have. Going Against The Grain means speaking out and standing up for a more just world, despite our fears, and with unwavering hope for a brighter future. As an Asian American woman, it means taking up the space I deserve and demanding for my community to be heard for our humanity.”

How do you go “Against The Grain?”

“I was in middle school when I was told that I ‘wasn’t really Asian’ for the first time. I began to go Against The Grain when I realized that no one has the power to challenge my identity and authenticity as an Asian American transracial adoptee. I have grown a space for myself within the Asian American community through leading Asian American student conferences, interning with OCA National in D.C. and working as a program director at North Carolina Asian Americans Together. I have found spaces filled with love in the Asian American community. I have had friends guide me through learning and more importantly, unlearning. Addressing my positionality as an adoptee born of China’s repressive One-Child policy, while also acknowledging my own privilege has expanded and challenged my worldview. I continue to go Against The Grain through my advocacy for the Asian American adoptee community. addressing the subjects of cultural erasure and white saviorism that are often considered too uncomfortable to address. My work and thoughts on international adoption have been published by Eleven University of California Berkeley’s undergraduate journal of sociology, and the blog, ReAppropriate.”