Nestled inside the Tom Bradley Room at L.A. City Hall were about 100 people, dressed in cocktail attire, enjoying performances by YouTube sensations Clara C. and David Choi. At the back of the room were tables filled with silent auction items, including tickets to see the L.A. Lakers and for Audrey’s Night Out Fashion Show in September (shameless self-promotion, I know). But this wasn’t a private concert for the lucky group — it was a fundraiser and a chance to showcase the inspiring Asian-American youth of today.
The Southern California chapter of Young Professionals’ Group (YPG), a nonprofit organization providing financial support to high school seniors who will be attending a 2- or 4-year college, awarded eight students with scholarships at its third annual gala last month. Unlike most scholarships and awards, these weren’t based on the highest GPA or long lists of extracurricular activities.
“These students, there’s something different about them,” said Brian Han, executive director of the chapter. “We don’t look for students who have amazing GPAs. What we see in all of our students is their amazing character. We don’t see them as people who just live in the world and do their own thing. They’re people who are instrumental in the world we live in. We’re very proud of these students.”
To ensure funding for next year’s winners, the event auctioned off donated items and attendees were asked to sponsor a student. From one person’s sponsorship of $2,000 for two students (each!) to a silk dress by Monica Chang selling for $500, the night proved to be quite successful.
This year’s recipients were: Dorothea Nguyen, Jessica Nguyen, Luis Ortiz, Joelle Osorio, Jongmin Song, Jessica Valdez, Nhi Vo and Alice Wang. From making the most out of being stranded in Africa to dreaming of volunteering with Doctors Without Borders, this group of students can put us to shame with their amazing stories. The most inspiring stories come from Vo and Wang.
After an accidental home fire, Vo suffered severe burns all over her body. The tragedy led her to pursue an education in the medical field, specializing in pediatrics. She said she also wants to help other burn victims in realizing their true potential, and not let it negatively affect their outlook on life. Check out her video she sent to be screened at the gala.
Wang paid for a last-minute trip to volunteer in Nairobi, Africa. She had hopes of participating with an organization based out of the area, but once she got there, she learned it had all been a scam! Instead of hopping on the first flight home, Wang was persistent in finding a way to give her time and her knowledge. So she found a HIV/AIDS clinic to work with, which eventually led to her working with an NGO and traveling around the slums of Kenya testing for the disease. She even managed to run a clinic for Somali refugees.
Do you want to help sponsor a student next year or help with fundraising efforts? Learn how you can make a difference in a young professional’s life!