Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Phillip Yin & Friends American Dream Foundation Scholars

The Phillip Yin and Friends American Dream Foundation (PYFADF) was founded on the belief that every student should have the opportunity to fulfill their educational goals. The Foundation helps motivated students by sharing a part of their financial burden associated with going to a university.

2017 Scholars:

Mitch Aman

Mitch Aman

Junior, Political Science, Law, Societies & Justice

Mitch is a Junior at the University of Washington, double majoring in Political Science and Law, Societies, and Justice (LSJ). They have been involved in campus organizations such as UW Leaders, ASUW Student Senate, and have worked for First Year Programs (FYP) as a FIG Leader and Orientation Leader.

Currently, they are working for the City of Seattle as the Mayor’s Correspondence and Outreach Intern. These experiences have allowed Mitch to explore their passion for civic engagement and activism, while developing their leadership skills outside the classroom.

After completing their undergraduate education at UW, Mitch hopes to move back to California and continue working in city government. After gaining this job experience, Mitch intends to complete a Master’s degree in Public Affairs (MPA) and begin working on policy for the state or federal level, while still continuing their passion for local community organizing. Specifically, Mitch hopes to influence policies relating to the queer and trans community by expanding protections from discrimination and implementing education programs for trans youth in low-income areas. Mitch intends to center the needs and accomplishments of the trans community within the public policy arena to account for its history of marginalization and underrepresentation. These issues must be addressed with multi-dimensional perspectives along intersectional identity lines by fostering an environment of inclusion and celebration of diverse communities.

Mitch is honored to be chosen as one of the recipients of the Phillip Yin & Friends American Dream Foundation Scholarship. They would like to thank their mother, who immigrated to the United States from Germany, for equipping them with the resources to achieve the American Dream of education and community while also realizing that significant changes must be made in order to ensure that the American Dream is accessible to all, even those who are historically marginalized by society.

Diana Gil-Vargas

Diana Gil-Vargas

Junior, Community, Environment & Planning

Diana Gil-Vargas is a transfer student from Yakima Valley College (YVC) and is currently a junior studying to earn her BA in Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) at the UW. Her focus within CEP is to learn about the intersectionality of the built environment, the social structures, and diverse groups of people of the environment. She hopes to one day become an urban planner to help address the environmental and social inequities underrepresented communities of color face. As a future planner, she hopes to create safe, accessible, and sustainable spaces for all people.

Along with her interest in education Diana is passionate about community engagement because she enjoys engaging with community members and learning about different communities’ histories. Her interests in community development and the environment have led her to work with different organizations in Seattle and Yakima Valley. Diana is eager to continue working in community development and engagement opportunities as she continues forward with her education at the UW.

Merideth Kirry

Merideth Kirry

Freshman, Musical Theatre, Early Childhood Development and Family Studies

Merideth Kirry is a 19-year-old freshman from Chewelah, WA. She is majoring in Musical Theatre and Early Childhood Development and Family Studies. She has been singing, dancing, and acting since the age of 5, and continues to do so actively at the UW. After receiving her degree, she plans to develop a performing arts learning program for children and families living on military bases. Music and theatre have been a creative outlet for her throughout her life, as well as a source for many life skills. She hopes that by bringing the performing arts to military bases, where there is no access to such activities, she can teach children the lessons that participating in the performing arts taught her. Through this program, she also hopes to be an advocate and mentor for children of military service members, and help them work through the issues that come with being in their situation, such as long distances from family members, frequent relocation, or the loss of a loved one. When she is not studying or performing, Merideth enjoys writing, drawing, playing the piano and her ukulele, baking, finding good Thai food places around Seattle, and dancing.

Yuansi Li

Yuansi Li

Freshman, Pre-Arts and Sciences

Yuansi is a first-year international student from China. Growing up in Beijing, she has been exposed to tons of things that interest her, including people’s stories, philosophy, literature, culture, journalism, culinary, skiing, and many others. After becoming a Husky, she has gotten to know more fascinating and new things that she would like to delve into: design, communications, comparative history, and especially Philosophy for Children (P4C). She fell in love with Philosophy for Children right after she heard of it by chance and took a P4C class on campus. She loves talking to kids in elementary schools about the fundamental questions of life, such as “what is happiness?”, “what are the most important things in life?”, and “What is fear?” She believes by asking the questions that don’t have a single right answer, P4C can help kids think critically, creatively, and broadly. Now, one of her dreams is to do P4C with more kids not only in Seattle, but all around the world. She is grateful that the UW let her know about P4C and gave her the opportunity to do it, thereby inspiring her to have this dream.

Daniele Meñez

Daniele Meñez

Senior, Public Health

Daniele Meñez hails from two places: Bulacan, Philippines and Dededo, Guam. At the age of 18, she stepped foot on continental America for the first time to attend the University of Washington. As an out-of-state, financially independent student with no family in this new, huge place, her UW experience has been filled with ups and downs. She has strived to make the most of the unending opportunities available at this incredible university (and country) by realizing and pursuing her passions through various ways on and off campus. Whether it’s through a role in an international agency, nonprofit, business, or government, Daniele hopes to create systemic change for social change & responsibility.

Throughout Daniele’s time at the UW, she has realized and nurtured her passions through extensive on and off campus involvement. In 2014-2015, she served as the Political Chair of the UW’s Filipino American Student Association, in which she led discussions and workshops to increase minority participation and action) in politics, raise awareness of relevant cultural identity issues, and encourage youth to delve into social justice work. In 2015-2016, she served as the Director of the ASUW Pacific Islander Student Commission, in which she led the UW’s Pacific Islander community to increase cultural awareness and empowerment on Pacific Islander issues and identity through various cultural, political, and educational programming. Currently, Daniele is the UW’s Student Body President through the ASUW. She is also a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholar, Contributing Writer for the International Examiner, and 2016 Fellow for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy & Leadership Program.

Ann Samson

Ann Samson

Junior, Environmental Studies

Ann Samson is currently the Political Chair for the Filipino American Student Association at the University of Washington (FASA sa UW). Before coming to UW, Ann grew up not fully understanding her identity as a Filipino American. As she got more involved in Sayaw, a traditional Filipino dance troupe, FASA sa UW, ASUW Senate and the OMA&D’s Student Advisory Board, Ann has fought for Asian Pacific Islander rights on and off campus through protests and education. Her involvement in FASA includes teaching students of colonial mentality, the American Dream, and current political issues in the Philippines and in America. She wants to investigate the environmental, economic and social effects of American occupation/militarism in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands such as the Micronesian and Polynesian islands. Her political activism is deeply inspired by the legacy of the late Uncle Bob Santos, a prominent Filipino American civil rights activist who fought for the preservation of Seattle’s International District from gentrification. As a first generation, queer person of color, Ann dedicates her life to fight for her Asian Pacific Islander community in all institutional levels. In Tagalog, “kapwa” means togetherness. Kapwa is a value that Ann holds dear to her and is at the heart of her political activism.

2016 Scholars:

2015-16 was the first year these scholarships were offered. Congratulations to UW’s first group of PYFADF Scholars!

Madeline Brown

Madeline Brown

Freshman, pre-major

Maddie Brown

Madeline (Maddy) Brown is a freshman at the University of Washington in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. She has lived in Seattle her whole life, and was the Salutatorian of her graduating class at Ballard High School. She is currently undecided on a major, but is interested in physics, astronomy, and mathematics, and will likely double major in a combination of those and others. Maddy is motivated by the prospect of learning a variety of things and expanding her mind rather than jumping on the fast-track to working a desk job at a tech company in the greater Seattle area, which has contributed to her difficulty in choosing a major.

While not in the classroom, Maddy works part-time at Suzzallo Circulation and volunteers as a “skoach” for local non-profit organization Skate Like a Girl, where she has the pleasure of instructing elementary school-aged girls in skateboarding. In her free time, she likes to skateboard, read, and spend time with her younger sister and her pug, Pee-Wee.

Eventually, Maddy hopes to decide on a major (or two,) graduate from UW, and attend graduate school.

Sanjana Galgalikar

Sanjana Galgalikar

Junior, Informatics and Human Centered Design & Engineering

Sanjana

Sanjana Galgalikar is currently a junior pursuing a double degree in Informatics and Human Centered Design & Engineering with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction. She entered UW intending to go down the pre-med route, but ended up taking a computer science class at the end of her freshman year and decided to make the switch to studying technology. Drawing on her own experience of having limited exposure to engineering in high school, Sanjana realized that there were minority students in STEM who had fewer opportunities than her and wanted to do something to support these students. Sanjana has spent the past two summers working as a Teaching Assistant for Girls Who Code, a non-profit dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology by equipping high school girls with computer science skills. Additionally, she currently serves as the VP of Community Outreach for the UW Society of Women Engineers, for which she leads engineering K-12 outreach programs.

Outside of STEM outreach, Sanjana has recently gotten involved in a civic technology club on campus as well as the UW EcoCar 3 Infotainment team as a developer. She is also a member of UW Dangeraas Dawgs, a cultural dance team that competes nationally.

Sanjana aspires to pursue a career in technology where she can build solutions to challenging problems in education and healthcare. She also hopes to get involved in social entrepreneurship.

Samantha Gil-Vargas

Samantha Gil-Vargas

Sophomore, intended Human Centered Design & Engineering

Samantha Gil Vargas photo

I am a current sophomore intending to major in Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE). I am first year college student and the youngest from a small family consisting of my mom, my dad, and my older sister. I am from central Washington from a town called Yakima. My goals and aspirations in relation to the American Dream are mainly centered on finding success from my hard work and being able to give back to my family and all the people who have helped me along the way towards my career path.

During my first year at UW I didn’t know what I wished to pursue for my career. I was interested in various aspects of different majors but not fully committed to one. When I heard about HCDE it sparked my interest because it was uncharted territory for me and the focus on people really interested me. If I get into this major, I really hope to learn all the skills I need to relate technology to people. Two aspects I would love to explore are big data and smart cities. I find it fascinating how people use technology so much and how data is basically flying around everywhere. With smart cities I would really like to see if technology is helping people live a better life or making people more secluded. My focus is on people and using the technological advances that society has to better our cities and used them to bring people together.

Overall, having the opportunity to obtain a great education is my American Dream and to find success I have many great people in my life to thank for that. What I hope to accomplish is to inspire, help, and educate people around me so that they too can reach their greatest potential.

Peter Kohring

Peter Kohring

Junior, Psychology & Dance

Peter Kohring

Peter Kohring identifies as Trans*, genderqueer, and queer and uses they/them pronouns. Peter attends University of Washington, double majoring in psychology and dance. They plan to focus the next three years on personal growth as they create a safe space for queer-identified individuals, using dance as a form of art therapy.

Peter’s goal for after university is to create an art therapy youth program, combining personal art forms with group work and one-on-one counseling.

“As a young adult who strives to become a role model and leader, I want to create spaces for those who lack any such space of their own. After university, I hope to be work with diverse groups in their various art forms. I feel that the support received from a program that values the needs of each concerning individual is extremely beneficial for both one’s personal craft as well as the process needed towards healing. My own personal therapy is dance. Choreography is very important to me, as it fosters healthy self-actualization, as well as connection with others. I strongly believe art is therapy, and anyone will benefit from the creative output of their own identity. My goal for the present and beyond is to develop an art therapy program, where young people can find safety and solidarity among mentors and peers by sharing themselves through their personal art medium. The program will include group sessions and one-on-one sessions with professional therapists. The first steps towards this program will be continuing the LGBTQ dance group in which I have been active, in order to make space for queer individuals to express themselves through dance.” – Peter Kohring

Cristal Ramos

Cristal Ramos

Junior, Social Welfare

Ramos Cristal BIO PIC

Born and raised in Yakima, Washington by a migrant farmworker and a single mother of 4, Cristal has made it her goal to represent the underserved. Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelors in Social Welfare and hopes to minor in both Education, Learning, and Societies, and Comparative History of Ideas. After graduation, she intends to enlist in the Peace Corps and serve in Central America for Community Economic Development. Her aspiration is to someday attend Law School and study Civil Liberties. When asked what the American Dream means to her, she replied, “The opportunity to attend college regardless of background.” Outside of classes, Cristal is an advocate at Teen Feed for youth experiencing homelessness. This summer she will be studying abroad in Mexico City to learn about change in LGBT communities. She is excited to network with non-profit activist organizations, and learn more about social movements in a different cultural context.

Leah Shin

Leah Shin

Freshman, Business Administration

Leah Shin Headshot2

Leah Shin is a first year student majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis of marketing and she is also hoping to pursue a minor or double major in Information Technology, Entrepreneurship or Law Societies and Justice.

Before attending the University of Washington Bothell in the fall of 2015, she graduated from Henry M. Jackson High School. At Henry M. Jackson High, Ms. Shin was heavily involved in extracurricular activities ranging from being senior class president to four years as an Honor roll student, and two years as Varsity golf captain. Through that work she found a strong love for making other people smile and realized she could indeed change the world: thus the creation of Literacy for Love. Literacy for Love is a community organization that collected over $55,000 worth of books.

Currently, Ms. Shin was elected First Year Senator on campus for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell where she serves as a spokeswoman for all first year students drafting proposals and policies. She is also involved with the University of Washington Foster School of Business programs as an alumni volunteer for the Young Executives of Color Program and a member of the very competitive Honors Lavin Entrepreneurship program. Lastly, Ms. Shin will be serving as a mentor and instructor for students in rural Washington where she will be pursuing a literacy project through UW’s Alternative Spring Break.

Ms. Shin dreams to be the first person in her family to earn a MBA. What business means to her is leadership, strategic thinking, and working together as a team to solve real-world problems. Reaching that dream will then help her establish Literacy for Love as an official non-profit organization. She craves a deeper knowledge and looking for ways to constantly supplement her desire to make a difference for the world with the power of refined business knowledge.

Sheldon Spring

Sheldon Spring

Freshman, Business

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Sheldon Spring is from San Jose, California and moved to Seattle to study at the University of Washington. Now a direct admit into the Foster School of Business, Sheldon is taking classes involving his major in the hopes that he will figure out which specialization within the Business School best aligns with his interests and skill-set.

Outside of the classroom, he has gotten involved in several business-related clubs and organizations, including the Delta Sigma Pi Professional Fraternity and the Montlake Consulting Group. Participation in both of these organizations reflect his desire to dive deeper into the professional world, and explore the various opportunities and potential careers the field has to offer.

Sheldon is also a part of the University of Washington Leaders program offered through the ASUW, continuing a trend of leadership involvement that began in high school with his election of class president his Freshman-Junior years and ASB President his senior year. Through this program Sheldon is paired with an established student-leader that serves as his “Mentor”, and works on campus and in the surrounding community to gather a more holistic understanding of what it means to be a leader.

By combining his interests in business and leadership, Sheldon hopes to make an impact and a difference in the greater Seattle area regarding issues like homelessness and poverty, and even the world in terms of access to professional ideas and consultation.

Marie Vergara

Marie Vergara

Junior, Early Childhood and Family Studies

MarieVergara

Marie Vergara and her whole family moved to Washington State from the Philippines in 1995, in hopes of better education and career opportunities. She graduated from Renton Technical College with a degree in Dental Assisting and also obtained her Associate in Arts and Science Transfer degree in Bellevue College. She worked as a pediatric dental assistant for years prior to being the clinic supervisor in University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Dental Department. Unable to afford childcare after having her second child, she decided to be a stay at home mom. Her passion for education and working with children prompted her to open her own family-home daycare. Quality childcare and early education is so important to her. A decade after graduating from college, she decided to go back to school to obtain her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood and Family Studies. Going to a university was a dream come true for her. Having a full time job and picking up extra babysitting work at night allows her to afford to go to school. With a 3.96 GPA, she applied for a scholarship for the very first time. Marie feels humbled and blessed to be chosen as one of the recipients of the Phillip Yin & Friends American Dream Foundation Scholarship. One day she would like to open her own childcare center and be the program director. Having this gift to help pay for her education is very much appreciated. Someday she would like to pay it forward and help out college parents with their childcare needs as they attend a school.

Joanna Avila

Freshman, pre-major

Junior

Name withheld for privacy, Communications major.