Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

2019 Martin Scholars

We are pleased to introduce the 2019 Martin Family Foundation Scholars!

Four Martin Family Foundation Achievement Scholars were selected in May 2019. The Martin Achievement Scholarship selects student early in their community college career and will fund, encourage and support their study and eventual transfer to the University of Washington Seattle. Individuals selected for the 2019 MAS will continue at their respective colleges to complete their courses of study and eligibility credits for specific degree work and will transfer to the UW in 2020. The next deadline for the MAS will be April 2020.

New Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholars will be selected in September 2019. The Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholarship enables Washington State Community College students of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement to complete their baccalaureate degrees at the University of Washington Seattle Campus. Individuals eligible to apply for the 2018 MHS are beginning their studies at UW in summer 2019, fall 2019 or winter 2020. The next deadline for the MHS will be in July 2019.

2019 Martin Achievement Scholars:

Yonas Abraha, Seattle Central Community College

My name is Yonas Abraha and I was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Eritrea. As long as I can remember I have always gravitated towards mathematics and science, tinkering with electrical appliances and fixing some of them that needed repair. The country where I grew up, Eritrea, had shortage of electricity and so every household was allowed to have only 12 hours per day of access to electricity and so I was using candles to do most of my home work. One time, when I was only 13, I attended a seminar about solar energy, and I was fascinated by the technology and so with the ambition I had to solve the shortage of electricity, I see solar energy implementation as my new path to solve the problem and that is why I wanted to pursue an Electrical Engineering career. But I had to flee my country because my faith was abandoned by the government of Eritrea and I had to live in a refugee camp in Sudan and finally moved to the U.S. after passing through several South American countries.

Once I got into the U.S., I was given the opportunity to seek asylum and I was granted to stay here and was excited to pursue the American dream. I was accepted for who I was and the once glimpse of hope of fulfilling my dreams came to reality. My parents spend their whole life encouraging and supporting me to acquire education so I can be of great contribution to my community. So, I grew up knowing the importance of education and I value it above anything else and so I resumed my education at Seattle Central to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer with a focus on power and solar energies.

Besides my regular job as a driver, which helps me cover my expenses, I am an active member of MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) and the African Association Group at Seattle Central. I also volunteer as a Math tutor for underprivileged people who didn’t get to graduate high school at Goodwill Seattle. It feels extraordinarily fulfilling to be able to change the lives of people and impact them with a positive energy at a nonprofit organization which provides people with employment training and community services to better their lives at no cost to them.

Yonas’ tips for future applicants:
Don’t think your story is embarrassing or isn’t worthy telling. Everyone has their own struggles in life and so don’t be afraid narrating them on your essays. And apply for as many scholarships as you can and you will definitely win some of them. Give your back to giving up!

Raymond Haug, Everett Community College

My teen years were challenging. I became involved in the juvenile legal system when I was 14 years old, began struggling with addiction issues before age 15, and dropped out of high school after 9th grade. At that time, I never thought I would enter a classroom again. Nine years later, the day I was released from Monroe Correctional Facility, I walked from the local transit station to Everett Community College in my state-issued gray sweatsuit and enrolled in my first classes. My greatest challenge was not adapting to the academic culture, but overcoming my feelings of shame and misplacement; I didn’t think I belonged on a college campus. After months of keeping my head down, I mustered the courage to apply for a job at the college tutoring center. I explained my past to the hiring board and they still hired me. Encouraged by my success, I applied to and received my first foundation scholarship, which gave me concrete proof that my past no longer had to hold me back or define my future. My self-discipline, study habits, and focus on achievement drove me to accept an invitation into the Everett Honors Program. Personally, I want my professional and academic achievements to set an example for those coming up behind me who face the same struggles that, they too can overcome hardship and social stigma. I want my story to also serve as an example to the broader community that change is possible in everyone. Professionally, I want to become a mechanical engineer and work in the automotive industry. My passion is motorcycles, and I would like to attain a career position in performance motorcycle design.

Raymond’s tips for future applicants:
Get involved in your college community: attend a club recruitment festival, network with fellow students, apply to an honors program. All these opportunities broadened my knowledge of what resources were truly available to me. Secondly, be real in telling your story. The events and situations in your life which you think may have held you back are actually strengths which you can build upon to carry you forward.

Christopher Ponce, Highline College

Chris is currently an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with aspirations of one day becoming a physician. The idea of becoming a doctor never seemed feasible, especially as a first-generation student navigating through the academic process without proper guidance.

Chris was raised in South Central Los Angeles. Although his parents split up when he was young, he always had their continued support. During his junior year of high school, he met his wife, Teddy. Coming from a low socioeconomic status, he thought he wasn’t mentally capable of handling the rigors of college, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Rifleman to try and become successful. A year later, he married Teddy. They now have a lovely three-year-old and are expecting another child.

Chris’s family gave him a strong foundation, but the Marine Corps molded him. The Marine Corps gave him a strong work ethic, enhanced his character, and gave him confidence. With this newfound confidence, Chris realized he could do anything he sets his mind to. Chris wants to show his children that the possibilities are endless with the proper mindset, and that’s when he decided he wanted to obtain a college degree.

After witnessing a fatal motorcycle accident, and feeling helpless, he decided he wanted to complete an EMT course. During the course, he discovered his attraction to medicine. His experiences as an EMT have only solidified his desire to become a doctor.

Chris is now attending Highline College majoring in Biology in hopes of transferring to the University of Washington to finish his pre-medical studies. Chris is involved in TRiO’s Student Retention Program, where he is receiving the proper guidance he was missing and is volunteering at the local fire department as an EMT to give back to his community.

Christopher’s tips for future applicants:
When writing your essays, give yourself an ample amount of time to write them, use as many resources as you can to help with the process, and do not sell yourself short when telling your story!

Sreynin Sam, Highline College

Sreynin Sam is a newcomer to the United States. Her family moved here as immigrants in 2018 from Cambodia.

As an 18 years old girl, Sreynin has encountered so many life challenges. She is a first-generation student. She has strong hope with education. After her parents got divorced when she was 6, Sreynin was the only one focused on excelling in her educational pursuits. Her family members hold a very traditional view of the role a female should play in the household and becoming educated and self-reliant are not a part of their transitional mindset. Despite this, Sreynin kept pushing forward, and earned one of the top scores in Cambodia on her National High School Diploma Examination.

After arriving in the United States, she decided to attend Highline College and get her Associate Degree in Communication as her starting point. Being in Washington for 8 months by herself away from her family, who live in Massachusetts, she not only maintains a good GPA, but also is an active member at TRiO, Phi Theta Kappa, AANAPISI, Center of Leadership and Services at Highline. She is also an outreach ambassador at Asian Counseling and Referral Service, a member of Cambodian American Community Council in Washington, and volunteers in the community over the weekends.

Even though she is a young girl, her dream is to make a great impact to the world by running a non-profit community organization to help students who just entered the U.S. like her, cultivating their potential again. With passion and hope, Sreynin will involve more in communities, help the society and develop herself to be a potential woman in United States. She desires to help make the world better by cultivating the abilities and perspectives of youths in developing countries so that they will be able to make their countries grow.

Sreynin’s tips for future applicants:
You can do more than you might think. If you found that this scholarship is a good fit for you and motivates you to keep doing what you are doing right now, please do not hesitate to apply. Do it with your true passion, and seek help from resources provided in your college as much as you can. Also, do not forget to share your story and your goal. You will make it.