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

How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay for the Jeff Sein Kwan Yang Memorial Scholarship

The Jeff Sein Kwan Yang Memorial Scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for graduating high school seniors in the San Gabriel Valley area who are immigrants or children of immigrants. To help you make the most of this opportunity, we’ve put together a guide on how to write a winning scholarship essay.

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Meet the Inspiring 2023 JSKY Scholarship Recipients

The JSKY Scholarship supports outstanding high school students from underserved backgrounds who demonstrate exceptional leadership, academic excellence, and community service. We are proud to announce the 2023 scholarship recipients who exemplify the values of compassion, justice, and social responsibility that are central to the JSKY Scholarship mission.

This year’s recipients have already made tremendous impacts on their schools and communities while overcoming significant obstacles. Whether launching clubs to increase college access, advocating for women’s rights, or working to make healthcare more inclusive, these students have a passion for creating positive change. They are the future leaders, activists, educators, lawyers, doctors, and innovators who will continue to uplift their communities for years to come.

We are honored to be able to support these remarkable students as they embark on the next chapter of their academic journeys. Please join us in celebrating their achievements by reading their inspiring biographies below. Their drive, resilience, and vision give us tremendous hope for the future.

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16 Resources for Immigrant Students in the San Gabriel Valley

Living in the San Gabriel Valley can be tough for immigrant families, especially regarding their children’s education. Immigrant students face unique challenges that can make it difficult to thrive academically and personally. But there’s no need to despair! A wealth of resources are available to provide support in various areas, such as education, legal assistance, financial aid, and mentorship. With these resources, immigrant students can confidently pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.

  1. El Monte Union High School District Family Resource Center – provides support services and educational resources to students and their families, including financial aid, citizenship workshops, and academic and career advising.
  2. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services provides information and assistance with immigration processes, forms, and procedures.
  3. Pomona College Undocumented Student Resources – offers counseling, legal aid, financial support, networking, and advocacy services for undocumented students at Pomona College.
  4. San Gabriel Valley Literacy Council – provides free English language and literacy tutoring services to immigrant families and other residents in the San Gabriel Valley.
  5. Pasadena City College Dream Center – offers support and resources to undocumented students attending Pasadena City College, including legal guidance, financial aid, and academic counseling.
  6. Los Angeles County Public Library – provides access to resources on citizenship, immigration, and legal information, as well as English language learning tools, and help with job searches and resumes.
  7. Foothill Unity Center – provides food, clothing, and emergency financial assistance to low-income families in the San Gabriel Valley.
  8. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles – a legal and civil rights organization that provides legal aid, advocacy, and educational resources to marginalized communities, including Asian Americans and immigrants.
  9. Monrovia Unified School District Immigrant Student Resources – provides resources and support to immigrant students in the Monrovia Unified School District, including counseling services, mentorship, and academic advising.
  10. National Immigration Law Center – a legal advocacy and resource organization for low-income immigrants that assist with legal issues and conducts policy research and litigation to protect immigrants’ rights.
  11. Azusa Pacific University Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research – offers academic support and resources to underrepresented students, including undocumented students, providing academic advising, career support, scholarships, and leadership development.
  12. West Covina Unified School District Family Resource Center – provides services to families in the West Covina Unified School District, including parent engagement programs, counseling services, academic assistance, and referrals to community resources.
  13. Carecen-Los Angeles – provides legal services, education, and advocacy for immigrant communities in Los Angeles, including citizenship and legal support, as well as education and community outreach programs.
  14. Rio Hondo College AB 540 Resource Center – offers support and assistance to undocumented students attending Rio Hondo College, including academic counseling and access to scholarships, financial aid, and campus resources.
  15. San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity – provides affordable housing and home repair services for low-income families in the San Gabriel Valley.
  16. Jeff Yang Scholarship – provides financial support and mentorship for high school seniors and college students from immigrant backgrounds in the San Gabriel Valley and Greater Los Angeles area pursuing higher education.

If you or someone you know is an immigrant student needing support, know that many resources are available in the San Gabriel Valley to help navigate your challenges. From understanding the immigration system to finding financial assistance and educational resources, there are organizations in the area that can provide critical support. Remember, you are not alone; we are always here to help those in need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance accessing these valuable resources. Together, we can help you achieve your goals and positively impact your community.

Ways to Give Back to the Immigrant Community


The immigrant community plays a vital role in our society, bringing diversity, talent, and resilience to the fabric of our nation. As individuals, we can make a positive impact and give back to this community that has contributed so much. This article will explore various ways to support and uplift the immigrant community actively.

1. Volunteer at Local Immigrant Support Organizations

  • Description: One of the most direct ways to give back is by volunteering your time and skills at local immigrant support organizations.
  • Benefits: Help bridge gaps and empower immigrants to navigate new challenges and opportunities.

2. Mentorship Programs

  • Description: Join a mentorship program that supports immigrant youth or adults.
  • Benefits: Share knowledge, experiences, and networks to inspire and guide individuals on their journey toward success.

3. Advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

  • Description: Stay informed about current immigration policies and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Benefits: Support fair and just immigration laws that positively impact the lives of immigrants.

4. Support Local Immigrant-Owned Businesses

  • Description: Show support by intentionally patronizing immigrant-owned businesses in your area.
  • Benefits: Contribute to their success and promote diversity and cultural exchange within your community.

5. Language Exchange Programs

  • Description: Participate in language exchange programs to help someone learn your native language while learning theirs.
  • Benefits: Foster cultural understanding and integration through mutual language learning.

6. Donate to Immigrant Assistance Funds

  • Description: Research and donate to reputable immigrant assistance funds.
  • Benefits: Provide resources for education, legal aid, healthcare, and other essential services for immigrants.

7. Organize Cultural Exchange Events

  • Description: Organize cultural exchange events to showcase different traditions, cuisines, music, and dances.
  • Benefits: Foster an atmosphere of inclusivity and understanding in your community.

8. Engage in Intercultural Dialogue

  • Description: Actively engage in intercultural conversations to promote dialogue and understanding.
  • Benefits: Bridge cultural gaps and promote a more inclusive society through empathy and appreciation.

9. Support Education Initiatives

  • Description: Support initiatives that provide educational opportunities to immigrant children and adults.
  • Benefits: Empower immigrants through education and advocate for equitable access to quality education for all.

10. Foster Welcoming Communities

  • Description: Create an inclusive and welcoming environment in your community.
  • Benefits: Foster connections, offer support, and help immigrants feel at home and become active community members.


One great way to give back to the immigrant community is by considering a small donation to the JSKY scholarship. By supporting this program, you can help empower and uplift those who might not have had the same opportunities as others. It’s just one small action, but it has the potential to make a significant difference in building a more compassionate and inclusive society. Let’s embrace diversity and work together toward positive change.

2022 Recipients – Jeff Sein Kwan Yang Memorial Scholarship

Kent Romo

Baldwin Park High School
University of California, San Dieg

Kent Romo is on his way to building a brighter future for himself and his family.  Kent graduated near the top of his class with a weighted GPA of 4.359.  During his time at Baldwin Park High School, he collected numerous accolades, including the “Top Freshman Award,” the LEO Club Leadership Award, and the Project Lead the Way Scholar Medal.  Kent not only excelled academically, he was also involved on campus with the Robotics Club, serving as Treasurer and Vice President.  His passion for engineering helped him win the VEX Robotics Judges Award.  Unsurprisingly, he plans to major in mechanical engineering at U.C. San Diego.  Although his academic successes were impressive, the selection committee was more inspired by Kent’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by his parents and siblings.  Kent’s father worked two minimum wage jobs to provide for the family, and his brothers had to work instead of completing their programs at a community college.  Kent hopes to graduate from U.C. San Diego, obtain a high-paying job, and repay his parents.  We are overjoyed to help him achieve his goals and cannot wait to see all he will accomplish. 

Sydney Nguyen

Mark Keppel High School
University of California, Los Angeles

Sydney Nguyen has overcome tremendous obstacles through determination and resilience.  She was primarily raised by her grandmother and mother after her parents divorced.  Because of financial instability, Sydney and her family had to move frequently, residing in converted garages.  While her mother worked to support Sydney and her brother, Sydney’s grandmother cared for Sydney and gave her the stability and love she needed.  Despite these difficulties, Sydney graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.07.  She excelled at Mark Keppel High School and East Los Angeles College, taking college-level courses, selling products online, and working at a boba shop to help her family financially.  Sydney intends to major in psychobiology at UCLA and hopes to eventually become a medical professional.  We look forward to seeing all that Sydney will achieve in life.

Vanessa Polk

Baldwin Park High School
California State University, Long Beach

Vanessa Polk is a leader who will lead us to a more sustainable future.  Growing up in a Filipino and African American household, she was surrounded by extended family members who supported her despite limited resources.  This support allowed Vanessa to graduate with a weighted GPA of 4.205 and to lead student organizations like LEO Club, for which she served as co-President.  Her leadership abilities are best exemplified by her involvement with the Baldwin Park Breathe Free Vaping Coalition.  As a student representative for the coalition, she gave a speech at a Baldwin Park City Council meeting and helped pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in the city.  Vanessa wants to graduate with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy and plans to become an environmental specialist, guiding organizations and companies towards a sustainable future.  We are proud to recognize Vanessa’s past achievements and know that this is just the beginning.

Donations Are Welcome

Any amount that you can contribute will greatly be appreciated. All your donations will go to the students; no part will be used for administrative costs. Your donations are tax-deductible, and the scholarship is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

2021 Recipients

Abraham Hernandez

Schurr High School
Stanford University

Abraham Hernandez is an extraordinary young man with limitless potential.  He graduated Valedictorian of his graduating class from Schurr High School and plans to major in Biology and Pre-Medicine at Stanford University.  Abraham has volunteered his time to serve his community — tutoring other students in math and science through the California Scholarship Federation and organizing a toy drive through the Eastmont Community Center.  When he was not excelling in school or giving back to the community, Abraham was working on the weekends with his father repainting and repairing homes.  He is motivated to succeed by his Mexican immigrant parents, who sacrificed a great deal for Abraham and his siblings.  His hope is to become a physician who provides quality healthcare for low-income, Spanish-speaking patients.  We are deeply honored to help him achieve that goal.

Lewis Wong

Temple City High School
University of Southern California (USC)

Lewis Wong has the passion and commitment to better countless lives.  Lewis graduated with an unweighted GPA of 3.96, while serving as President of the LEO Club (service club), Vice President of the World Cultures Club, and Drum Captain of the school marching band.  He plans to major in Biological Sciences at U.S.C. and pursue a career in medicine, influenced by his grandfathers’ experiences with cancer, dementia, and amenia.  The selection committee was moved by Lewis’s commitment to those in need: he volunteered to play classical music at Dignity Health Hospital in Los Angeles, to escort patients at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and – during the COVID-19 pandemic – served food to the homeless at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles on a weekly basis.  We are excited to see the tremendous good that Lewis will do in his life.

Megan Tieu

San Gabriel High School
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Megan Tieu will make the world more sustainable, equitable, and just.  As a first-generation Vietnamese immigrant raised by a single mother, she graduated summa cum laude from San Gabriel High School and will be majoring in Economics and Urban Planning at UCLA.  While excelling academically, Megan served as President of the Environmental Club, was Managing Editor of the school newspaper, and worked as a receptionist at a nail salon.  Through the Environmental Club, she encouraged students and their families to calculate their carbon footprint and to try composting at home.  She even got the Alhambra Unified School District Board of Education to unanimously pass a resolution encouraging community members to transition to renewable energy sources and to uphold environmental justice.  We look forward to living in a world led by changemakers like Megan.

2020 Recipients

Jason Gonzalez

San Gabriel High School
Yale University

Jason Gonzalez possesses the intellect, work ethic, and passion to accomplish great things.  He graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.47 while juggling numerous extracurricular activities, including serving as Captain of the Tennis Team, Vice President of the Math Engineering Science Achievement student group, and Co-Section Leader of the Marching Band.  He also volunteered at the Monterey Park Hospital.  The selection committee was particularly impressed with Jason’s care of a sibling diagnosed with dyslexia – giving additional tutoring at home and fighting the school district for additional resources.  From his volunteering experience and his advocacy on behalf of his sibling, he learned about the inequities in our health care system.  Jason plans to major in Chemistry at Yale University and hopes to become a neurologist, devoting his practice to serving the immigrant community.  We intend to cheer Jason on every step of the way!

Zoey Hsu

Temple City High School
Yale University

Zoey Hsu is a future leader with limitless potential.  Zoey graduated with a 4.0 unweighted GPA.  She served as Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper and a member of the Temple City Youth Committee.  Zoey is also an accomplished pianist who has won numerous awards.  More impressive, Zoey led efforts to increase pedestrian safety measures at her high school after a car hit a student.  She hosted a seminar, collected signatures for a petition, and presented victims’ testimonies to the City Council.  She persuaded the City Council to relocate the crosswalk, add yield signs, and increase a landing pad – undoubtedly stopping countless future accidents.  Zoey intends to major in Political Science and Public Policy at Yale University, attend law school, and eventually go into politics.  She wants to be a policymaker who “support[s] and fight[s] for those who face discrimination and unequal opportunities, such as minorities and immigrants.”  We cannot wait to see Zoey’s name on a ballot soon.

Angel Mendoza

Montebello High School

Angel Mendoza has an indomitable drive to succeed.  He wrote, “Perseverance and resilience describe me.  I work hard.  I have done that my whole life.”  Growing up in a working-class family, he saw his father having to juggle three jobs to support him and his siblings.  Angel himself worked in house construction and bicycle repairs and sales to contribute to his household.  During high school, he took a bus for hours in order to attend a school located far from his home, but one that offered him better educational opportunities.  Despite these obstacles, Angel excelled academically and socially.  He was ranked 7th out of his graduating class of 575 students.  He was President of the California Scholarship Federation, Co-founder and President of the Leadership Experience Opportunity Club, a member of the Varsity Cross Country Team, and a member of an award-winning Marching Band.  Angel plans to major in Business Economics at UCLA and hopes to lead language and entrepreneur programs for immigrants.  We are incredibly proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing him lead the business world.

2019 Recipients

Rosana Maris Arias

La Puente High School
Stanford University

Rosana Maris Arias will undoubtedly achieve great things in her life.  She graduated Valedictorian from La Puente High School.  In addition to excelling academically, Rosana was President of the Warrior Field Corps, the school marching band, and President of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.), a student-run program that encourages students to reach higher education and to explore Latinx culture.  She also founded Students For A Successful Transition (S.F.A.S.T.), an organization that aims to get more high school students into college.  Rosana plans to study Political Science at Stanford University in order to “make real and powerful change through policy.”  She hopes to create educational reform, expand access to higher education, and increase funding for disadvantaged schools. We look forward to seeing her accomplish all of those goals and so much more.

Luke Kyaw

Alhambra High School

Luke Kyaw has a deep commitment to advance the rights of immigrants and to challenge discrimination.  Luke immigrated to the United States from Myanmar when he was 14 years old.  Despite the language and cultural challenges he faced, Luke nonetheless graduated near the top of his class at Alhambra High School, with a weighted GPA of 4.18.  Outside of the classroom, Luke was involved in the VoteAt16, a campaign to increase student representation and promote civic engagement, and worked as a tutor.  He intends to double major in Public Affairs and Economics with a minor in Spanish at UCLA.  Luke wants to build a career in law or public service and to use his position to advance the rights of immigrants like his family.  We are so happy to help him make those dreams a reality.

Leslie Ramirez

South El Monte High School
U.C. Berkeley

Leslie Ramirez is an inspiration.  She has overcome tremendous barriers through hard work and tenacity.  For the first 14 years of her life, her family lived in a house with three other families.  Nonetheless, Leslie feels grateful for her parents – both Mexican immigrants – who tirelessly worked to feed and house Leslie and her siblings.  They taught her the importance of respect, kindness, and perseverance.  With those values, Leslie graduated at the top of her class with a GPA of 4.13.  She plans to pursue Global Studies at U.C. Berkeley to learn about the histories and cultures of underdeveloped countries and to eventually help promote the development of those countries.  Leslie does not plan to wait until after graduating from college to make a change.  She wants to put on workshops and web posts to address and tackle the issue of food insecurity in Berkeley. We have no doubt she will the world a better place.

2018 Recipients

Alejandro Moreno

John Marshall Fundamental High School
Indiana University Bloomington

Alejandro Moreno excels at everything he attempts.  During his time at John Marshall Fundamental, he played Varsity Football, Varsity Cross Country, and Varsity Track and Field.  He was elected President of the Junior Class and Vice President of the Associate Student Body.  Alexandro also founded ForFood, an organization that helps feed less fortunate families.  He accomplished all of these amazing feats while maintaining an impressive weighted GPA of 3.82.  Alejandro attributes his successes to his father who, as a farmworker and later as a gardener, “was able to overcome all the negativity in life and give [Alejandro] a better life, one with limitless opportunities.”  Alejandro was motivated to go to college because his father “always emphasized the importance of an education,” and he is determined to represent his father’s character and his Hispanic heritage with pride as he blazes a path through higher education.  We have no doubt that Alejandro will succeed.

Jaclyn Ng

Mark Keppel High School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jaclyn Ng is going to be a pioneer in science and technology.  As an immigrant, she had to overcome a language barrier.  As a woman, she had to challenge assumptions that she did belong in the fields of math and science.  Jaclyn knocked down one obstacle after another and proved wrong those who doubted her – being the only girl on the Math Bowl competition team, getting a perfect score in Math and Chemistry on the SATs, and graduating Salutatorian of her graduating class.  We were extremely impressed by her sheer determination “to show the world that you don’t need to be born rich or privileged to achieve your dreams.”  She said, “In my world, there are no glass ceilings. Language barrier?  No problem.  Judgment from others?  Bring it on.  No one else has done it before?  I’ll be the first!”  We cannot wait to see Jaclyn break down barriers, and likely win a few Nobel Prizes along the way.

Karen Olivares Lopez

Bell Gardens High School
University of California – Los Angeles

Karen Olivares Lopez is committed to improving her and her family’s “standard of living by having a great career.”  Previously, her family of nine members lived in a one-bedroom in Boyle Heights.  Growing up, Karen saw her immigrant parents struggle to pay for health care services they received for emergencies.  These experiences inspired her to take advantage of every opportunity and to work hard in school.  For instance, Karen aced several Advanced Placement classes, in part, by staying up past midnight to finish homework.  It is no surprise that Karen graduated fourth in her class, which was composed of over 600 students.  She plans to major in biology at UCLA and hopes to become a pediatrician.  Karen would like to give back to the community by helping community clinics provide low-income families access to health care.  We are extremely happy to help Karen achieve her dreams.

Zhen Xi (Kyle) Rong

Arcadia High School
Harvey Mudd College

Zhen Xi (Kyle) Rong moved from China to the United States in the eighth grade and powered through early language barriers through sheer determination, dedication, and some Criminal Minds.  He soon discovered the universal language of mathematics and dove into mathematical modeling.  Kyle’s passion led him to found the Game Theory Club, win Bronze in the USA Mathematical Talent Search, winning Second Place in the Science Olympiad Southern California State Chem Lab, and First Place in the Bay Math League.  Kyle also made time to give back to the community by tutoring recent immigrants, while maintaining nearly all straight A+ grades.  Kyle will be attending Harvey Mudd College in the fall.  He hopes to use mathematical modeling to study conflicts and develop proper human behavioral modeling and fair division techniques to resolve the conflicts of resources allocation across the world.  We have no doubt he will have a huge and positive impact on the world.

2017 Recipients

Hoyt Gong
South Pasadena High
University of Pennsylvania

Hoyt Gong’s accomplishments are incredible and his passion to help the underserved is an inspiration. Hoyt graduated as a valedictorian for his graduating class. He obtained this honor while juggling numerous extracurricular activities, including being Editor-in-Chief of his high school yearbook, President of the Leo Club, and Youth Board Executive President for the Los Angeles American Red Cross. Hoyt has been a laboratory intern for the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, where he researched cancer tumor suppression, and a laboratory intern for the Geological and Planetary Science Department at CalTech, where he researched on climate change. We were, however, more impressed with Hoyt’s empathy for the underprivileged and his sincere commitment to help others who grew up disadvantaged, as he did. We are thrilled to help Hoyt achieve his goal of pursuing a career in nonprofit management.


Sheena Horiki
Gabrielino High School
U.C. Berkeley

Sheena Horiki has a steadfast commitment to serving others. Sheena plans to major in molecular cell biology and eventually go to medical school. Her hope is to serve the Japanese American community, especially seniors, through her language fluency. She also intends to break professional barriers. We have no doubt she will succeed based on her past achievements. Sheena graduated first in her class while sitting as first violinist for the Olympia Youth Orchestra and while performing as a ballet soloist. She was a student researcher for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where she nurtured beating mouse embryonic stem cells. Sheena also interned for San Gabriel City Councilmember Jason Pu and strategized on ways to encourage collaboration between businesses and city government.

John Hua
South El Monte High School
U.C. Irvine

John Hua has achieved incredible success in the face of tremendous adversity. Growing up, John’s family moved around frequently, forcing him to change schools on numerous occasions. He was raised by his mother and they, along with his siblings, had to rely on social programs and food banks. Rather than allow these circumstances to limit him, John has used these adversities to motivate him to do better. He graduated valedictorian of his graduating class with a weighted G.P.A. of 4.29 and was elected California Boys State Representative by the American Legion. He was also captain of his Varsity Tennis team. John intends to major in computer science or engineering at U.C. Irvine. We cannot wait to see John’s continued success in college and beyond.

Laura Martinez
Nogales High School
U.C. Berkeley

Laura Martinez has an individual voice that shines through, and we know her strong sense of identity and history will carry her far toward her goals. Laura recalls how she and her family escaped a dangerous life in Mexico and began again as newcomers in California. Despite these difficult beginnings, Laura has racked up an incredible raft of accomplishments, including serving as ASB Executive President and student representative to the District Board, obtaining a GPA well above 4.0, and having a dedicated record of volunteering. Laura hopes to one day help future immigrant communities by creating full service shelters for those in need. We know she will do everything she sets her mind to do.