Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
NEW AMERICAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM 2010 SCHOLARS Overview
2010, we received applications from 178 talented immigrant students,
representing 108 California high schools and 28 countries of origin. We invited 10 extraordinary students to be part of our 2010 New American Scholars
Program, awarding them $50,000 in scholarships. Our 2010 Scholars hail
from Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. They are
attending San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, and UC
Angel "He or she who is greatest among us will be our
servant." These words by Dr. Cornel West inspire me to use my education
for the greater good, not for my own gain. It is because of every single
person who has helped me that I am able to walk the halls of San
Francisco State University. My dream is to become a health disparities
researcher. In this way, I will continue the legacy of service to my
Angel is a sophomore at San Francisco State University majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. As President of his university's chapter of Improving Dreams, Equity, Access and Success (IDEAS), a student-run group providing resources and support for AB540 students, Angel organized SFSU’s first annual AB540 conference. He has also served his community as a mentor for younger students through Next Generation Scholars. Ultimately, he aspires to obtain a PhD in Public Health and Science. He is well on his way to achieving this dream. Last year, Angel became the youngest student at his school to be awarded the highly competitive Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) fellowship, which has enabled him to begin research on increasing minority participation in clinical trials.
Cinthya Cinthya exhibits compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding of the prejudices that create underclass citizens, economic disadvantages for minorities and undereducated groups of people existing side by side with mainstream Americans. She is able to grasp these issues at their core. Dan Lopez, Sonoma State University
Congress members Barbara Lee, Mike Thompson, and Gloria Romero as well as Mayor Gavin Newsom have all honored Cinthya for her academic achievements and community service. A junior at Sonoma State University majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Math, Cinthya aspires to become a forensic pathologist. In college, she has been actively involved in the Chemistry, Math, and Pre-Health Clubs and has conducted research in the Chemistry Department to develop a new drug that could function as an alternative to a pace maker. She has also raised funds to enable low-income children to participate in outdoor education programs, is a certified counselor for sexual assault victims, and baby-sits regularly to pay for her tuition and books.
Jirayut Perseverance is the key to all of my successes today. I am not the most talented individual in the world, nor am I the smartest. However, I do believe that I have the ability and the drive to continue moving forward on a path I have started upon. My own life experiences have proven to me that, with determination and time, whatever adversities lie before me will chip away — piece by piece — until they are no more.
Emigrating from Thailand to the United States when he was 9 years old, Jirayut has faced many obstacles, including learning English and limited financial resources. Throughout high school, he worked over 30 hours a week to save money for college. He also volunteered regularly at the Sacramento Food Bank. His perseverance and hard work earned him recognition as an AP Scholar With Distinction and the honor of being his class salutatorian. An aspiring medical doctor, New is now a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Throughout college, he has been able to maintain a 3.7 GPA while being involved in groups such as the Thai Student Association and the Asian American Medical Student Association.
Grace On facing a lecture hall full of boys who were essentially born programming, I concluded my brain was not wired for computer science. I spiraled downward in negativity. I was seriously considering changing my major. Thankfully I talked to my professors. Gradually, I have transformed into someone who strongly believes in the pursuit of mastery and excellence through constant challenges.
Immigrating to the United States from South Korea at age 12, Grace is entering her third year at UC Berkeley as an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major. Though she initially questioned her abilities as a female computer scientist, she has recently proven her talents through several demanding engineering projects. In the last year, she has worked on the UC Berkeley Solar Car Team, animated a short film with a team of undergraduates, and conducted research for a health education website for developing countries. However, Grace is much more than just a computer whiz. In high school, she excelled as a service leader, receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing over 500 hours of community service.
Luis I want to give back to this wonderful country however I can. I feel at home in US culture and lifestyle because I have spent more than half of my life here. I believe that having citizenship is more than status. It will give me the freedom to express my true identity, which has been hidden for more than 12 years.
Luis graduated in the top 5% of his high school class this year. In the summer after sophomore year, he took college-level anatomy courses, prepared a research presentation on rates of lung cancer among low-income people, and completed an intensive five-week hospital internship through the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP). The following summer he conducted research through the highly competitive and rigorous Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR). Growing up in Oakland, Luis has witnessed violence that has often made him want to move, but he realizes the city needs people like him to improve it. Luis has given back to his community by taking care of disabled seniors, volunteering at a neighborhood health organization, and tutoring students in Math, Science, and Spanish. This fall he will be attending UC Berkeley, where he hopes to pursue a career in medical forensics.
Yoshi I was only 15 when I moved to the United States by myself, traveling hundreds of miles as the sole female among strangers. It was difficult because the men complained about having a girl with them, but I was afraid to go back to Mexico and determined to change my life. The two days I traveled with this group of men I was always in the front, and I motivated them to keep going.
At age 15, Yoshi left her home in Mexico and came to the United States with the dream of going to college. After arriving in Daly City, she graduated from high school and then enrolled full-time at Skyline Community College. She became a member and mentor in the Puente Project, which aims to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students earning college degrees. She is the only student in her Puente Project class to graduate from Skyline in just two years, despite being financially independent from her parents and working almost 40 hours a week to fund her education. She also resurrected the emPowering Ourselves to Demand Education Rights (PODER) group, which promotes higher education for undocumented students. This fall, Yoshi will be a junior transfer to UC Berkeley, where she will study Sociology and Women’s Studies in preparation for a career in teaching and research.
Denia "We are the ones we’ve been waiting for" is a line from June Jordan’s A Poem for South African Women. This quote embodies my spirit of determination, ambition, and hunger for knowledge. I know I am part of a bigger coalition of oppressed people who will one day rise up and overcome adversity. To make a difference, I have to be part of that difference. Though the road may be bumpy, I am ready to absorb the impact and keep going.
Denia emigrated from Mexico to the United States when she was only 11 months old. In high school, she was recognized as a student of the month, was captain of the cross-country team and successfully defended her peers as a teen attorney. However, Denia's college path has not always been smooth. After being accepted at Mills College, she was forced to drop out after only a year due to financial reasons. She later enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College, working up to 18 hours per week to pay for tuition and books. "Denia does not see her importunity as a terminal problem but rather, something to work through," writes her professor at SRJC. "One must wonder how someone as special as Denia could be denied anything." This fall, she will be attending San Francisco State University, where she will study Economics and Women Studies and continue on her road to becoming a civil rights attorney.
Marco Citizenship is not only a legal status for undocumented immigrants in the United States; it is also a source of psychological disruption. While we experience the painful struggle of silence, we also gain an understanding of our potential as activists, scholars, and community leaders.
An aspiring academic, Marco is described by one of his UC Berkeley professors as one of the top students she has ever taught: "His intellectual creativity challenges my own scholastic work." This is not something Marco’s third grade teacher would have expected: "Speak English. You’re not in Mexico anymore," she would reprimand him. A transfer from Riverside Community College, Marco is now a senior at Cal, majoring in Gender and Women's Studies with a minor in LGBT Studies. Marco has held leadership positions in both immigrant and queer rights groups, introduced new students to campus resources as a Cal Student Orientation counselor, and worked up to 15 hours a week to cover his college expenses. He has also facilitated a seminar on the challenges faced by first-year immigrant students and developed a course on masculinity, both testaments to his academic prowess. This summer, Marco participated in Princeton University's Public Policy and International Affairs Summer Program, which has taken him one step further toward achieving his goal of becoming a professor or policy maker.
Catherine In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus's protagonist is doomed for eternity to roll a boulder up a hill without successfully reaching the pinnacle. Though his actions are futile, Camus contends, "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." As an immigrant student, pursuing an education with little financial means is a challenge similar to Sisyphus' own. However, Sisyphus' struggle reminds me not to lose hope. I, too, should find value in the challenge before me.
After attaining a 4.0 GPA from Ohlone Community College, Catherine transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior. During her time at Cal, she has been actively involved in numerous community and school organizations, such as the Associated Students of UC Berkeley, Pilipino Academic Student Services, UCLA School of Law Fellows Program, and the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, which advocates for the rights of immigrants and refugees. She is now a senior studying Political Science in hopes of becoming a lawyer or community organizer. At Cal, she has maintained a 3.9 GPA, acing upper division courses such as Constitutional Law, which she has chosen to enhance her legal advocacy efforts.
Elisa Not allowing my fears and insecurities to overwhelm me is one of the greatest achievements of my life. There is only one thing that makes dreams impossible to achieve, and that is fear. I have conquered it once, and I am certain that I will do so many more times in the future.
After graduating as an AP Scholar with Distinction and valedictorian of her high school of nearly 2,000 students, Elisa was accepted to UC Berkeley. She is now a sophomore majoring in Business Administration preparing herself for a career in Human Resources or Marketing. Due to her immigration status, which makes her ineligible for government financial aid, Elisa has often worried about not being able to afford college. She has saved money by living at home and commuting from Pittsburg to Berkeley, regularly waking up by 7 am to take BART. She also works part-time to cover some of her college expenses. Despite these challenges, Elisa has just finished her first year with a 3.9 GPA. In addition to her coursework, she has been a student ambassador for E4FC and a member of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE).