Jeff Yang Memorial Scholarship 533 Floral Park Ter South Pasadena, CA 91030

2013 Recipients

Xiao-Yi Chen
Mountain View High School

Xiao-Yi Chen is fiercely determined and unstoppable. Despite having arrived in the United States only three years ago, Xiao-Yi Chen graduated from high school at the top of her class. This was no easy task. Xiao-Yi struggled to learn English and a new culture. In addition, she had to work in her parents’ restaurants on the weekends, serving as hostess, peeling shrimp, folding dumplings, and cutting fruit. Often, her feet would be numb from having to stand all day and her hands would itch from having to prepare meat. She juggled these burdens with extracurricular activities, like serving as President of the Pacific Horizon student club, which helps assimilate recent immigrants into American culture. She hopes to help raise funds for schools in the future so that they can provide SAT preparation courses for recent immigrants. Xiao-Yi entering UCLA and plans to major in Business Economics. We cannot wait to see what she will accomplish in the future.

Leonardo Huerta
Mountain View High School
Harvey Mudd College

Leonardo Huerta has overcome insurmountable odds with tremendous poise, wisdom, and fortitude. He grew up in a 2 bedroom apartment with 9 other individuals. Yet, instead of dwelling on the negatives, in his essay, he talked glowingly about growing up with other families in his apartment complex, describing it as a community. He also wrote with immense pride and love about his father who works tirelessly as a cook in a fast-food restaurant to support the family. Rejecting drugs and gangs in his neighborhood, he worked hard in school and graduated with a 4.07 weighted GPA. Because of his determination, Leonardo will be attending Harvey Mudd College, which is often ranked as the best engineering school in the nation. By graduating college and becoming an engineer, he hopes to encourage other youths in his neighborhood, especially Latino youths, to go to college. We hope he succeeds and are honored to help him achieve his goals.

Kelly Mendoza
John Muir High School
California State University Northridge

Kelly Mendoza exemplifies how we each have the power to change and better our own lives and circumstances. In her personal essay, she honestly revealed that she became involved with the wrong crowd during her sophomore year in high school, and she got mixed up in activities that she has come to regret. When things seemed the bleakest, Kelly refused to accept what was “expected from kids in [her] neighborhood” like dropping out of school, getting involved in gangs, and doing drugs. Instead, she became a 4.0 student in her senior year. Kelly wants to become a therapist that provides services to children in her neighborhood. She has been working toward that goal through a number of impressive internships at middle and high schools. She wants to graduate college to become a role model for others. We think she’s already one.

Alan Vuong
Mark Keppel High School
University of Notre Dame

If his past is any indication, Alan Vuong is going to do great things in his life. He graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.27, played on the Varsity Tennis team for three years, and volunteered for countless community events, like raising funds for children born with cleft lips or participating in Walk to End Homelessness. We were, however, more impressed with his ability to bring in extra income for himself and his single mother, who has had to work two jobs to support Alan and his sister. He started a “one-man tennis pro shop,” purchasing and reselling tennis grips, racket strings, and tennis balls. He was so successful that he “had a monopolistic hold” on his high school. With that kind of entrepreneurial success in high school, we have no doubt that he is going to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. We know that he will pull others up along the way.

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