Article by Judy Huang
Photo by Francis Latif
On November 8, 2012, APIASF held it’s 7th annual Scholarship Benefit at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton New York hotel. AsianInNY was very honored to be invited by APIASF president and executive director, Neil Horikoshi, to attend this meaningful event.
A person’s educational track typically starts with pre-school, followed by elementary, middle school, secondary school and then… the consideration for a post-secondary education. He or she begins to contemplate during junior year of high school what college and universities to apply to; whether it’s a local, state, or out-of-state institution, private or public. One of the most influencing factors in decision- making is cost. Students and parents ponder how they can afford the child’s most sought-after education. Many families, especially minorities, do not have the means to support their child through school. At such circumstances, families look for external assistance such as federal financial aid, loans and scholarships. Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is one of the many forces that strives make educational dreams come true.
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund is the United States’ largest nonprofit provider of college scholarships to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. APIASF administers two scholarship programs: APIASF’s general scholarship program and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans. Both programs are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since its chartering in 2003, APIASF has distributed more than $60 million in scholarships to deserving Asian American and Pacific Islander students.
On November 8, 2012, APIASF held it’s 7th annual Scholarship Benefit at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton New York hotel. Many sponsors attended in support of APIASF’s efforts. Sponsors include McDonalds, Wells Fargo, Macy’s, USAFunds, Nielsen, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, Sodexo and AdmerAsia. Emceed by MSNBC anchor, Richard Lui, APIASF awarded recognition to organizations and individuals such as FedEx, Southwest Airlines and Dr. Frank Chong for their ongoing commitment to education. FedEx was the first to create a four-year scholarship program. Since 2005, Southwest Airlines has provided more than 300 tickets, valued over $120,000 to help increase access to educational opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Dr. Frank Chong is the president of Santa Rosa Junior College, a role model for AAPI students, helping to pave the way for future college presidents.
The event began with a cocktail reception in which attendees can bid on items in the silent auction. Some silent auction items include handbags, jewelry, memorabilia, special events tickets, vacation packages, art, hotel stays and more.
After networking and bidding, guests were led into the ballroom. The ballroom housed over 40 round banquet tables and comprised of one long rectangular banquet table to accommodate over 300 attendees. The stage was set up with screens on both sides of the room and a lectern to the left of the stage. The dinner commenced with a welcoming speech from APIASF president and executive director, and a salmon appetizer. The night continued with speeches from honorees and APIASF and GMS scholars describing their experiences with APIASF and how it has helped shape their lives. Attendees took in the bitter and sweet stories of the scholars as the wait staff served the remainder of the three-course meal.
The benefit dinner alone raised $420,000 from the silent auction and pledges. Amongst the pledgers are Macy’s and Wells Fargo. Macy’s pledged $50,000 while Wells Fargo pledged to match pledges from the event of up to $25,000.
Having attended the scholarship benefit and learned about the organization, it’s hard not to applaud it for its mission and the great work it has been doing. If I had known about this organization earlier, perhaps I could have studied elsewhere. Still, this organization, its scholars, scholarships and partners are worth advising to my younger peers. I’d advise the reader to also share with others about such scholarship opportunities. You may help someone to achieve his or her American dream.
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