Ronald McDonald House Charities Announces 2014 RMHC/Asia Scholarship Winners

By Wun Kuen Ng

The Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area (RMHC) held an awards ceremony for six recipients of the 2014 RMHC/ASIA (Asian Students Increasing Achievement) Scholarship at a luncheon at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. In its fourteenth year, the RMHC/Asia program awarded $16,000 scholarship to Eileen Jin (Hunter College High School), Joseph Kim (Fair Lawn High School), Juliet Kim (Hackley School), Sam Kim (Stuyvesant High School), Juho Lee (Tenafly High School) and Winston Lee (East Brunswick High School). Out of 1100 applicants, these six students were chosen by ten judges for academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. Vivian Lee, Anchor/Reporter, NY1 moderated and guided us through the luncheon.

I got a chance to speak with some of the recipients.

Eileen will be attending Fordham University to study Child Psychology.
Eileen Jin is the oldest of three children in her family. Her mother is a home nurse, sole supporter of the family. Eileen’s father passed away two years ago from lung cancer. Having been thrust huge responsibilities so early on, she is grateful for the scholarship since it will ease the financial burden for her mother who would not be able to send three kids to college on her income.

Sam Kim will be attending Yale to study Applied Math and Economics.
He has an older brother that recommended him to apply for the RMHC/Asia scholarship. His community work teaching Korean languages and culture to Korean adoptees made him grateful to his parents for instilling the Korean traditions in him. He could also see how the parents of the Korean adoptees enjoy learning the language and culture along with the kids.

Joseph Kim will be attending Wesleyan University to study biology. He had a friend who won the scholarship before recommended that he applied. Two days before the deadline, he wrote and submitted his compelling essay on how he overcame Non-Hodginkin lymphoma cancer in sixth grade. His faith and family were crucial support system that helped him through the recovery process. Currently he is cancer free. Health is important and he enjoys going to the gym to maintain it.

Juliet Kim will be attending Harvard University to study Biomedice/Pre-medicine. Juliet Kim learned about the RMHC scholarship at the Korean Daily Newspaper Career Fair. She was encouraged by a previous recipient to apply. Her scholarship will ease the work-study portion of the tuition at Harvard University. It will also ease the financial burden for her mother, who works at a nail salon as the sole supporter after her Dad was disabled by a car accident. Juliet wants to pursue a MD/PH.D and research on stem cell because her grandmother has Alzhiemer’s disease.

Many of the students offer the advice to work hard, follow your passion, have a dream and pursue it. But also have some fun along the way because if you don’t enjoy it, it is not worth it.

The RMHC Community Leadership Award was given to New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim. He immigrated to the United States at age seven and was named after President Ronald Reagan. He works tirelessly on issues that affect the Asian American community in Flushing. One of the issues that keep him up at night is how to help the growing population of impoverish foreign-born seniors in New York. In his speech, Kim spoke about his experience being the only Asian in New York State Assembly. Often questions like “Do you know Tae Kwan Do?” or “You know Psy?” are unwittingly directed at him by senior officials. Among many initiatives he is working on, he wants Lunar New Year to be a recognized holiday on the calendar of the United States.

The 2013 RMHC/Asia Scholarship Program receipt Udisa Chowdhury gave some advice to the scholarship students entering college. She made a point that college is very different from college. First, use your time wisely. Find time for your inner being, find mentors, your GPA is important, but also enjoy your life. Follow your passion. If you make mistakes, don’t fret; it helps you grow.

The keynote speaker, American playwright David Henry Hwang was born to immigrant parents, a father from Shanghai and a mother from the Philippines. In his speech, he mentioned the great things growing up Asian such as work hard and respect your parents. We are raised to be obedient and to be good. Find a stable profession so one can have a better life than the previous generation. However, sometimes one has to break the rules and follow one’s heart. His path to become a dramatist was a result of not obeying his parents. His father wanted him to be a businessman and encouraged him to apply to Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Hwang said it is a graduate school so he decided to go to Stanford instead for his undergraduate. During his spare time, he wrote plays. His father was concerned after he read one of Hwang’s plays that had several swear words all over the place. He sent David to a fancy school to write swear words? Hwang’s parents did not grow up going to the theater. When Hwang invited his parents to one of his play, FOB, his father was so touched by it, he supported David’s decision do graduate study in theatre at Yale. Hwang said he has been a dramatist for thirty years. He wakes up in the morning looking forward to his work. As in the movie, Matilda, sometimes one has to be naughty. His advise: have the ability to know what your heart wants. If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to achieve it? It takes self-awareness to succeed.

The guests were treated to entertainment, which included an erhuist, Jack Hsu and an acrobatic act, Happy Chef. The music was soothing. Among his many acts, the Happy Chef was able to spin a full cup of water in a triangle without dropping any water. The afternoon would not have been complete without an applause to the parents, guardians, and mentors of the scholarship recipients. The parents’ hard work and support, both inspired and nurtured them to succeed and achieve.

The future looks hopeful with these six scholarship recipients.

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