GMS month feature – GMS

Kristine Osuna wasn’t the first in her family to go to college. However, by the time she was looking at colleges, the recession had hit, and like many others across the nation, it affected her family. Kristine’s father was the one to find the GMS scholarship, and pushed her to apply for it.   Kristine became the first Gates Millennium Scholar from her high school. That would not have been possible without the encouragement and prayers received from her parents and family. On Father’s Day in 2014, Kristine graduated with a B.A. in History and Minors in Legal Studies, Politics, and German. This past Mother’s Day, she graduated with a J.D. Degree and Certificate in International and Comparative Law. Kristine’s parents have sacrificed so much over the years and she can’t imagine a better way of honoring her parents than being able to graduate on both Father’s and Mother’s Day.

1. Describe your parent(s) and how they inspire you?
Both of my parents are extremely giving and hard workers. My parents were foster parents for about 10 years, and ended up adopting 2 children, my brothers. My parents inspire me because even when times have been tough, they have always provided for our family, and still do their best to help others.
2. What do you appreciate most about your parent(s)?
I appreciate how much my parents have pushed all of us kids to succeed in school and in life. They are always encouraging us to continue moving forward!
3. Reflect on the time you shared that you became a GMS scholar with your parent(s).
My father was the one who found out about the GMS scholarship. He anxiously waited until my senior year of high school came, so that I could apply. After receiving word that I was selected as a GMS Scholar, I could not wait to tell my parents. They were elated. It was then that my parents told me they prayed every night, hoping that I could attend a private university, without having to go into debt. It was such a blessing for both my parents and me.

Alannah Atauvich-Callahan graduated from the University of Oklahoma with both a Bachelors and Masters Degree.  Ms. Atauvich-Callahan has worked for the United States Census Bureau.  Alannah is currently considering a Doctorate or professional level degree.

1. Describe your parent(s) and how they inspire you?

My parents are actually my grandparents. When they got married, they already had their children from previous relationships and met later in their lives. But, the instant they met they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives and even though they couldn’t have children together, my grandmothers son (my dad) was overseas for the us navy and could not take care of me when I was born. My grandparents instantly took over guardianship of me and this decision only solidified their relationship and gave me the stability and love I deserved as a child.

They inspire me because grandfather worked sun up to sun down so we could have what we needed. Yes, it was difficult living paycheck to paycheck but grandmother worked tirelessly to take care of her sick mother and me, a child that wasn’t even hers. They inspire me most with their tough mental attitude and their perseverance in difficult times. It seems they had an answer for any problem or obstacle that came along and I knew I could always count on them. Their strength was a quality that transferred over to my personality and for that, I am forever grateful.

2. What do you appreciate most about your parent(s)?

What I appreciate the most about my grandparents is that no matter what the situation was with my mother and through all of the hard times we went through grandmother never felt sorry for Me or the problems at hand, Even if she did, she never mentioned it or showed any sign of weakness no matter the difficulty. She never made me out to be a victim or a lost cause or some sort of charity case. I was never, ever allowed to feel sorry for myself or hang my head in sorrow for someone else’s choice (my mothers). I learned from my grandparents that life goes on and if you let issues or people get to you, then that issue has defeated you. In other words, never let someone else steal your power or your joy….

3. Reflect on the time you shared that you became a GMS scholar with your parent(s).

I’ll never forget the day I came home from school.  I drove up my driveway and ran to the mailbox. Immediately, I felt a thick envelope in the mail pile and rushed up the front porch to grab my grandparents and inform them that the mail had come. Then, I saw it….that GMS packet and I thought for sure that it was another essay I had to write or some more forms to fill out. I opened it up and then I read the word “Congratulations!” I don’t think I remembered anything else the letter said. I just remember my heart dropping and my life flashing before me; every time I got bullied at school, every teacher who treated me different because the popular kids didn’t like me, every time I wondered about my biological mother, all the times my father missed my basketball games, the sexual abuse I endured and all the times we had to save and count pennies so I could compete in pageants-all flashed through my mind at once. It was almost like an out of body experience where I saw my past AND my future in an instant. And, even in that moment I still didn’t grasp what it meant to be a Gates scholar. I looked up and my grandparents were standing there in anticipation and I showed them the letter from Gates. Grandmother immediately teared up with excitement and my grandpa just stood there and smiled. All they could say was: “I’m proud of you…I knew you could do it.” Thanks to my grandparents and the Gates scholarship, my life has been blessed beyond belief and I was able to live a life I never would’ve thought was possible….

Rachel Watson is currently a junior at the University of Central Oklahoma. Rachel is majoring in History with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Rachel is also the current president of the Student Alliance for Equality, which is one of the largest LGBT+ and allies on-campus organizations in the state of Oklahoma. Rachel actively serves on the President’s Leadership Council, and in a number of civic engagement initiatives in the Oklahoma City metro area.

 

 

 

1. What do you appreciate the most about LGBT Pride Month?

LGBT+ Pride month is an important part of celebrating the past and present of the LGBT+ community. Pride parades and celebration are an important expression of identity that has previously been deeply repressed. It brings the community together in a collective celebration of love and acceptance, which is necessary for LGBT+ health and healing.

2. How do you support/celebrate LGBT Pride Month?

I support and celebrate Pride month by marching with the Student Alliance for Equality in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa parades. SAFE is also holding a candlelight vigil to remember the anniversary of the shooting at Pulse in Orlando, to remember the violence LGBT+ people face, and to remember that we are resilient and can overcome despite all of the trauma we have faced.

3. What do you hope people gain from LGBT Pride Month?

For the LGBT+ people celebrating Pride Month, I hope they gain connections with each other and a sense of community from all the celebrations of our identity. For our allies, and people that are on the fence, or against LGBT+ rights, I hope they can usefully engage with events during Pride Month that teaches them about our community and our reasons for celebrating. We have Pride Month because of the Stonewall riots that were a response to police targeting members of our community for harassment, and the month, while filled with fun parades and other celebrations, should also be a reflection on how far we have come in the struggle for LGBT+ rights and how far we still have to go in achieving equality.

Jerry Bruno is Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner for Family Services at New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS). The mission of DHS is to prevent homelessness when possible and to provide short-term, emergency shelter for individuals and families who have no other housing options available to them.

As Special Assistant, Jerry supervises 2 staff members; oversees operations (human resources, PS and OTPS budget, contracts, procurement and information technology) of the Family Services division that consist of over 400 employees. He works closely with over 70 not-for-profit providers that provide temporary, emergency shelter to under 12,000 homeless families with children living in shelter. In addition, Jerry leads internal and external meetings and strategy sessions and oversees special projects as they relate to the scope of the Family Services programs, the provision of shelter and service model re-design.

Jerry is a 2016 StartingBloc Fellow, 2015 New Leaders Council Fellow, 2013 – 2014 Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service Fellow and a 2012 – 2013 NYC Urban Fellow.

Originally from Miramar, Florida, Jerry graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Public Leadership. He completed internships with the Florida Senate and the executive team of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Horatio Alger Association.

In his off hours, Jerry loves travels, pretends to be a food critic and is an avid lover of Batman movies.

 

1.What do you appreciate the most about LGBT Pride Month?

I appreciate the fact that a month is dedicated throughout the year to celebrate individual’s identities and also to show solidarity regardless of one’s background. On a personal note, I appreciate that I can live out my identity not just in June, but every day of my life.

2.  How do you support/celebrate LGBT Pride Month?

I live in NYC and I support organizations whose mission is to create spaces for LGBTQI individuals. Pride Month is a time we celebrate the accomplishments of many organizations and individuals. It also a time to reflect how much work is still needed to create a world that is inclusive for all individuals, regardless on their gender and/or sexual identity.

3. What do you hope people gain from LGBT Pride Month?

I have been celebrating Pride for so many years and every year I reminded of how proud I am to live out my true self. I look forward to meeting new people and building lifelong friendships for Pride Month.

As a GMS scholar (2005) and since high school, Lan Truong has pursued the study and research of ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationship between plants and human cultures. Truong earned degrees in botany, with specialization in ethnobotany (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Bachelor’s; City University of New York – Lehman College, Master’s). Today, with over 10 years of ethnobotanical research, Truong investigates anti-diabetic botanical remedies of traditional Vietnamese medicine (TVM) to treat type-2 diabetes (T2D) as her doctoral project. TVM also incorporates the use of functional foods that are potentially therapeutic for T2D treatment and prevention.  Truong’s interests also include the sociocultural context of traditional healing systems, including the role of spirituality in diabetic healthcare. Implications of this study can help in the development of life-saving health interventions, and especially within underserved immigrant populations in which T2D incidence and risks are among the highest.

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

I am humbled and deeply grateful for the resiliency and ingenuity imbued to me by my Vietnamese ancestors. The Vietnamese people have developed incredible strength in mind and spirit, enduring centuries-long warfare and colonization. These ceaseless struggles have culminated in a rich cultural history in which human spirit has prevailed despite circumstance. Interestingly and little known, Vietnam was also traditionally matrilineal, and I derive my tenacity from a culture rooted in a mindful resiliency that embraces the spirit of both feminine and masculine energies and attributes.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

I support Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by frequenting Asian-owned local businesses, a bedrock of entrepreneurship. I celebrate this month by eating authentic Asian food, thus helping to reconnect me to my own cultural heritage while also embracing other unique Asian cultures.

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

I hope that people gain an appreciation for the great diversity and the values offered by API communities. This month also provides an opportunity to highlight the challenges the API community faces. Overall, this exposure can help people begin dialogue on API issues to raise general awareness.

My name is Zane Anthony Zook, a halfy (half Japanese and half American) born in Japan and raised in Bellevue, Washington. My dream is to become an astronaut. For as long as I can remember (I even have yearbooks from back in kindergarten confirming this) I have wanted to go into space. I went through stages, wanting to be a space architect, a space doctor and the like but today I find myself fascinated by the prospect of designing robotics to better suit, complement and aid astronauts conducting missions in space. Unfortunately, the numbers are not in my favor. According to the most recent astronaut selection by NASA, the likelihood of being accepted was a mere 0.6%. To this end, I have done everything in my power to become the “ideal astronaut candidate.” At Stanford, I have pursued a Mechanical Engineering degree with a minor in Japanese while taking the traditional set of Pre-Medical courses. I am involved in Japanese cultural groups to maintain that link to part of my heritage. And I have begun a new adventure to climb the tallest mountains in the world, starting with Kilimanjaro which I completed in the Winter. I aspire to become a modern renaissance man, versed in academia, culture, and physical skill. Gates has been a blessing allowing me to pursue this ideal without needing to worry about the financial barrier to my dream. I wish more than anything else that once I am able to see the stars, that I can help people across the world achieve their childhood dreams as Gates has done for me.

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

My Asian American heritage reminds me how many different perspectives, people and ideas are in the world. As half Japanese and half American, I draw pride from both sides despite them being completely different. My Japanese bloodline traces back to samurai and as stereotypical as it may be, the swords of my ancestors have been passed down from generation to generation. At the same time,  my American lineage can only be traced back to my great grandfather, a gun-toting cowboy who rode in from the East and settled in the country in Montana. If I ever need to be reminded why people across the world have differing views and opinions, I merely need to look back at my own mixed background to understand.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

As a member of the Asian American community I support this month as an opportunity for Asian Americans to interact with the rest of the nation. I believe its is important to celebrate our heritage but do so in a way that we include the rest of the nation to celebrate with us. I share and listen to stories about Asian American heritage and try my best to spread a culture of simply celebrating Asian American culture as one of many, many incredible cultures in this world.

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

I hope people gain what I gain from this month. I hope people understand a little more clearly how people all have different experiences and perspectives and that is what makes us interesting. I hope friends share stories and learn about each other’s heritage and experiences.

Hafa adai!  Sami is from the Northern Mariana Islands. She received the Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2011, becoming the first GMS scholar from her home island of Saipan. Sami recently graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology from California State University, Northridge. It was there that she watched her very first rugby game, mustered up the courage to try out, and became a division 1 collegiate rugby player.

Currently she is back in the islands working for the Division of Public Health Services in the Birth Defects program. Sami’s work has been heavily focused on the Zika virus outbreak and protecting mommies and babies from the possible adverse outcomes associated with a positive zika infection. She also still works as a fitness trainer at the local gyms in addition to developing her own training service, Fineapple Fitness.

A great weekend for Sami is to enjoy the pacific sea with a craft beer in hand and her toes in the sand!

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

What I love about my Chamorro (pacific island) heritage is the culture. I love the way we use and respect our land and sea, our traditions, the way we respect and honor our elders. Culturally we are  raised to be hospitable; always willing to share are food and our stories.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

Interestingly, on island we don’t celebrate A/PI heritage month. I even think this is the first time I’ve heard of it!

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

I would love to see people recognize the distinction between the two ethnic bodies and appreciate the beauty of the array of cultures. Often times I feel that the Pacific Island people get lost in the mix when they are clumped together this way. When I lived in California, I constantly had to explain my  ethnicity and defend my culture as many people preferred to put me in the boxes that made the most sense to them. The pacific island heritage is a vibrant culture with their music, dancing, artwork, and language, which I hope are the largest take aways from the API heritage month!

Brian J. Oh is currently a Master of Arts candidate at Loyola Marymount University studying Urban Education with a focus in Education Policy & Administration. He comes from the Los Angeles region, where he attended Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) public schools from K-12. From there, his passion in education started, where he found many injustices in the bureaucratic systems of the public school district. He was fortunate to have attended Harvard University for his undergraduate studies, concentrated in Statistics with a secondary in Government. Right afterwards, he came back to the Los Angeles region to serve in Teach For America as a high school mathematics teacher. Currently, he is building a startup called Hope Academy, where it builds on online tutorials and content to bridge the inequity in education when it comes to academic resources. He plans to attend Teachers College, Columbia University this summer for his Master of Arts in Education Policy.

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

I appreciate the strong roots that my Asian Heritage has when it comes to familial support. I feel that most of my hard work and aspirations are due to the love and belief systems from my mother, father, and older brother. I believe that I want to give back to society the same kind of love that I have been blessed with — to show that the world can be a better place.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

I celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by giving back to my community whenever possible. By constantly advocating in the classroom and in the communities that I come from, I feel that my voice and actions help represent those that come from disenfranchised and low-income communities. I continue to inform others around my cultural roots and belief systems in order to build closer relationships and collaborations in my communities.

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

I hope that people gain an appreciation of the diversity that exists in the Asian/Pacific American communities, and to continue to build strong relationships with neighbors around us. By building stronger and more supportive communities, we, as a nation, can ground all actions and decisions from all levels around empathy.

Dr. Christina Ly graduated with a Ph.D. in Public Health with a concentration in Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Epidemiology from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Austin, Texas, where she is also currently a postdoctoral research fellow. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Ly is currently collaborating on research, presentations, and publications with the Texas Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) on Youth and Young Adults. Her work with the Texas TCORS includes coordinating the collection of point- of – sale tobacco retailer, marketing, and promotion data as part of a rapid response surveillance system to monitor and respond to changes in tobacco marketing and trends in youth and young adult tobacco use, specifically regarding alternative tobacco products. Dr. Ly’s research interests include various issues relevant to youth and young adult health (tobacco, alcohol, nutrition, and physical activity), including school- based prevention and health promotion programs. She has collaborated on grant-funded research at The University of Texas at Austin in the Health Promotion Research Center to prevent high-risk drinking among college students and was an interim instructor of the Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP). She has presented at national and international conferences on her collaborative work in childhood obesity prevention, child health legislative policy, young adult high risk drinking prevention, and youth and young adult tobacco research.
Dr. Ly graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Biology and from Texas A&M Health
Science Center, School of Public Health with a M.P.H. in Social and Behavioral Health.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, running, hiking, playing tennis, cooking, volunteer tutoring, and spending good quality time with friends and family.

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

I am Chinese-Cambodian American, and my parents both lived and met in Vietnam, so what I appreciate the most about my own personal Asian/Pacific American Heritage is just the melting pot of different cultures that I grew up in. Teochew, Khmer, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English are common languages spoken within my household. An example of a typical weeknight growing up would be me doing U.S. History homework to the sounds of Cambodian soap operas, classic Chinese Teresa Teng songs, and my mother beating garlic and chili to make homemade Vietnamese nước chấm. I celebrate three different New Years:  Gregorian, Lunar, and Cambodian, and I love wearing the traditional qi pao or Khmer silk sarongs. Also don’t get me started on the food. I love to eat, and I might be slightly biased but Asian food is simply the best in the world! So from the languages and music to the traditional clothing and food –I value celebrating, respecting, and cherishing each distinctly different facet of my Asian American heritage.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, there’s even more so an awareness, appreciation, and pride in what there is to celebrate about Asian/Pacific American culture. I live in Austin, Texas, and we have a ‘CelebrASIA’ event at the Asian American Resource Center that showcases the food, music, dancing, art, and stories of local Asian community organizations and Austinites. I enjoy participating in these types of events throughout the month, and I also like to travel to and experience different Asian/Pacific American cultures when I can. Last May I was able to visit Hawaii and bounce around the islands while immersing myself in the local music, dancing, and food. This May, I’ll be traveling to Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia; and, while these are travels not in the U.S., to me it’s still a way for me to appreciate and celebrate the origins of our Asian culture.

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

Respect. Open-mindedness. For individuals to step out of their comfort zones and to experience something that they never have before. This goes for everyone. I might have grown up in such a mix of different Asian cultures, but I do remember being blown away the first time I watched a traditional Filipino tinikling dance or tried Korean tteok. With each new experience, there comes this respect, appreciation, and acceptance that continues to grow and brings us all together. And, not to get too political, I feel as if we all need this now, more than ever. That, and science. We all need science.

Ngoc-Tran Vu identifies as a 1.5-generation Vietnamese American transnational and multimedia artist, organizer, and healer. She was born in Sài Gòn, Việt Nam and grew up in Boston. Tran received her MA in Arts and Politics at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her BA in Ethnic Studies and Visual Arts at Brown University as a Gates Millennium Scholar. Tran works across borders and is based in Boston where she is the Program Director of Association of Independents in Radio (AIR).

What do you appreciate the most about your Asian/Pacific American Heritage?

Asian Pacific American people and communities are so multifaceted and full of resiliency. Our narrative are full of survivals, hardships, and successes to reach and/or to sustain ourselves in the United States in hopes of a better future for our families and loved ones.

How do you support/celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

I am celebrating APA Heritage Month by fundraising for Asian American activists and organizers in Boston! I would love it if you can support the Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW), a dynamic nonprofit organization that I am a part of in empowering APA communities through the arts, education, and activism. Please join me: https://www.crowdrise.com/aarwmay15k/fundraiser/ngoc-tranvu

What do you hope people gain from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month?

I hope more people will gain a deeper understanding and solidarity with Asian Pacific Americans as well as all communities in the greater work of preserving our interconnected stories and humanities.