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HRCap Next-Gen Leadership Scholarship

Funded by
1st winner$1,500
2nd winner$1,000
3rd winner$1,000
4th winner$500
Application Deadline
May 14, 2023
Winners Announced
Jun 14, 2023
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate or graduate student
AAPI student and/or pursuing Asian American studies or language courses

The students of today are leaders and innovators of tomorrow. It’s critical that those students have the support and mentorship they need to complete their degrees and begin their professional careers.

This HRCap scholarship seeks to empower the next generation of multicultural students and leaders who embody critical values such as integrity, diversity, and professionalism.

Any undergraduate or graduate student who is an AAPI student and/or pursuing Asian American studies or Asian language courses may apply for this scholarship. This scholarship will have six winners. The first-place winner will receive $1,500, the two second-place winners will receive $1,000 each, and the three third-place winners will each get $500.

To apply, first, tell us what your AAPI culture means to you and/or why you are interested in Asian American studies and languages. Then tell us how you display service excellence, professionalism, integrity, cultural diversity, and/or human development as a leader in your community.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Leadership, Boldest Profile
Published February 19, 2023
Essay Topic

Answer the following questions:

What does your AAPI culture mean to you and/or why are you interested in Asian American studies/languages?

How do you display one or more of these qualities (service excellence, professionalism, integrity, cultural diversity, and/or human development) as a leader in your respective community?


500–700 words

Winners and Finalists

June 2023

Annie Yang
Keira Diaz
Haley Kugler
Sophia Hatsell
Emily Su
Aivy Nguyen
Joshua Jackson
Ashrita Satchidanand
Elizabeth Soewondo
Ayumi Furusawa
Julia Decker
Drew K
Ketki Morabkar
Cheyenne Rabadia
Saumya Sharma
Madison Wong
Maggie Ho
Annabelle Surya
Gabrielle Banzon

September 2022

Ali Koehl
Joyce Chi
Nayeon Jeon
Nikki Victorious
Elizabeth Hsu
Emily Sagstetter
Katherine Chu
NorKhadijah Lindgren
Diego Pichay
Gibson Nguyen
Jacqueline Joseph
Yolanda Yang
Dharma Patel
Wynona Lam
Gabrielle Chan
Hogun Lee
Krista Roekelle Orejudos
Kristin Ng
Anna Duong
Shelley Suazo
Justin Nguyen
Katherine Krishna
Victoria Rozario
Haley Goodwin

Winning Applications

Jane Han
Harvard CollegeLos Angeles, CA
I was born with a book. That’s what my mom used to say. I carried my books everywhere, reading in the car, at the dinner table, even as my eyes drifted shut. It drove my parents crazy. As the first Korean-American child of my immigrant family, language was a window for me to peer through. My parents often told me that “language is culture” and as I explored the rich world of Korean dynasties, culture in modern society, and family through the many books I borrowed from my local library, I began to understand what my parents meant. I found beauty in the Korean tradition of eating rice cake on Lunar New Year and the ease at which “Umma (mom)” rolled off my tongue. As I conversed with the Korean grandmothers in my apartment in Korean, my cultural perspective grew deeper as I learned about their experiences immigrating to America. As my fluency in Korean and English grew by the time I was 8, I had taken on the role of a translator in my family. Growing up translating between Korean and English from a young age, I was both fascinated by the connections I could create between people and also hurt by the discrimination my parents faced because of their “broken English”. I saw how difficult it was for my parents to join the workforce because of their perceived “broken English.” During the height of Covid-19, I spent hours translating governmental financial aid forms with my Korean immigrant parents in hopes of gaining financial and food support. As I translated these forms and documents, I realized the importance of financial literacy, especially for low-income, immigrant families like mine. I felt that the driving cause of families falling under the poverty line was income inequality and the cultural barriers against immigrants. I vowed to change this. I created Economy Club in 2020 to create opportunities for low-income students like me to gain financial literacy in their daily lives to support their families. Leading the club for three years, I’ve created countless job exploration and financial aid workshops for over 100 students, inviting guest speakers from UCLA, Netflix, and LAUSD. Furthermore, I created a website, “The Macro World” to share the resources and opportunities I had created through Economy Club with more families beyond my school through writing articles. As students shared how they used what they learned to support their families, I felt proud of the bridge I’d created for underrepresented students. As school opened back up and I read articles about the hardships that frontline hospital workers and patients faced, I wanted to create a way to bridge my school and my community. I created the Hamilton Uplift Performance, a music performance where I recruited student musicians to perform at a Kaiser Permanente Hospital for over 800 patients and staff to bring upliftment through cultural music. Within the two weeks I had to bring the performance to life, I faced an unexpected challenge of the unusual placement of the electrical outlets in the Kaiser Permanente performance stage. I challenged myself to view the placement as an opportunity and was able to create seating that better accommodated patients with wheelchairs, which turned out to be a success. On June 2, the day of the performance, I remember leading my team throughout the performance and the gratitude that filled me at the end as an elderly lady told me, “I’ve been at this hospital for a long time, and that was the most amazing thing I’ve seen. Thank you for bringing music to us.” Through my community leadership, I’ve felt the joy of creating bridges for underserved communities, bridging the gap between income inequality and different cultures. Stepping into college at Harvard University, I will be majoring in Economics in order to create long-term solutions to income inequality in America and countries in Asia, particularly those heavily impacted by poverty. Because my family is low-income, college expenses are a steep challenge and this scholarship will immensely help me to attend Harvard University. I hope to work as an economist to better understand how to implement sustainable labor systems to close the bridge of income inequality in both America and Asia.
Caitlin Johnnides
Vanderbilt UniversityBroomfield, CO
My childhood was filled with the sizzling of sesame oil in a wok, the fluffiness of freshly steamed bao buns, the sweetness of ripe lychee, and the aroma of ginger and garlic. As a child, my culture seemed to be defined by the delicious food my mother cooked. Being Chinese meant moon cakes on Lunar New Year and mapo tofu when I had a bad day. I felt connected to my heritage through its cuisine, especially during moments like learning how to make dumplings with my mom and my grandma in the two-story townhouse my mother’s entire family grew up in. However, as I grew up I realized that my culture was so much richer than just its delicious food. One of the ways I learned about my culture was through the subtle moments throughout my life, such as my mom making egg rolls for family friends whenever they were sick or struggling. My mother’s generosity and love for others were characteristics that I had just attributed to her personality, but her unwavering loyalty to her loved ones and the kindness she extends to all are principles deeply rooted in my culture. I was brought up thinking that love, integrity, and kindness were all just traits that everybody should strive to embody, but never fully understood how they underlie many of my family’s traditions and values until I was older. As an adult, I now see how my memories of food exemplify the aspects of my culture that I value the most. My recollections of drinking green tea with my mom and grandma translate to how I respect and value my elders, and making meals for friends and family shows the love I have for them. While delicious food is still an important part of my culture, what is even more important is the people who taught me how to make it and how they embody my favorite parts of my heritage. My mother’s generosity and care for her community are traits that I have looked up to my whole life. From a young age, I knew I wanted a career where my work would benefit others. In hopes of doing so, I am pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Digital Fabrication. I have a great interest in 3D printing, and I have seen firsthand how this incredible technology can create life-saving equipment at a fraction of the average cost. For example, automated syringe pumps are vital in NICU environments, yet cost thousands of dollars. For a project at Vanderbilt, I designed and assembled a fully functioning syringe pump with material costs of less than a hundred dollars. In my career, I hope to utilize 3D printing to create medical devices that are more financially accessible, so finances will never be a barrier to someone’s health. While I aspire to achieve this long-term goal, I also want to give back to my community in the present. As the Philanthropy Director of my sorority, I have had the opportunity to oversee numerous philanthropic events and organize over a hundred members to engage with our community. In the last four months I’ve held this position, I have planned many fundraiser events, including a flower sale for Thistle Farms in Nashville and a basketball tournament for Make-a-Wish Middle Tennessee, which have raised over $1,500 for these local organizations. I have also coordinated events where my chapter has interacted with and learned from the groups we work with, including making letters for children to open up on their Wish Days and brunches with the women who have gone through the program at Thistle Farms. Holding a leadership position where I can mobilize such a large group of people to get involved with and give back to our community has been incredibly rewarding. Throughout my life, I strive to do work that will better the world around me. Whether it be through creating medical devices or planning fundraisers or just making egg rolls for a friend in need, my family has taught me the importance of caring for others in whatever way I can.
Shelby Z
Liberty UniversityVirginia Beach, VA
“Wow, your parents failed you.” “Are you really Filipino?” “That’s so disappointing.” These are a few of the many comments I have heard when people find out I am a Filipina-American who can't speak Tagalog. This lack of ability has made me feel isolated among other Filipinos, but at the same time, I struggle to identify as American because of my brown skin tone and upbringing which both serve as a stark contrast to my White friends. During my childhood and teenage years, I felt lost between my Filipino and American identities. I didn’t know who or what group to identify with because I failed to meet certain expectations, and specific comments said to me made me believe I could never truly belong to either culture. Ultimately, I was stuck in the hyphen of my identity as Filipina-American, never being able to integrate both cultures in a way that undoubtedly defined me. In the past three years of dealing with COVID and living as a foreigner in East Asia, I’ve spent ample time engaging in self-reflection, having conversations with other second-generation immigrants about their struggles, and processing my time living overseas. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that AAPI culture means being confident in my own identity even as people within and outside of my culture attempt to label me. I may not speak Tagalog, but I know what it’s like to have your parents resolve conflict by giving you cut fruit instead of talking about each other's feelings. I understand the pressure to honor the sacrifices my parents made in their move from the Philippines to the United States, and the fear and avoidance of sharing my mental health struggles within my family. What if these experiences are what makes me Filipina, and not simply my skin color and ability to speak Tagalog? The values of storytelling, hospitality, and humility have been passed on to me by my parents in how I relate to others. I am currently a graduate student on my way to becoming a psychotherapist, which carries much more meaning for me as I discovered Asian Americans are statistically the least likely to seek mental health care compared to the general U.S. population. In this way, AAPI culture means advocacy for me—being able to encourage Asian Americans to take care of their mental health and being a person of color in a predominantly White, male profession. Being an AAPI also means giving voice to my experiences even if I’m the only person of color in the room or when I’m expected to stay silent. In my graduate classes, I make an effort to share with my classmates that being a Filipina-American psychotherapist can help me encourage others who identify as AAPI to also seek help. Perhaps this is where I find pride and hope in my hyphenated identity. I may not meet the standards imposed by those within each culture, but I take my experiences from both and blend them in a way that defines who I am today. As an aspiring psychotherapist, I’m taking steps to reach the community while also gaining experience working with people. One way I’m doing this is by volunteering as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. As a volunteer, I text people in crisis and empower them to identify coping skills and find relief from their struggles. Integrity plays a significant role in these conversations in that I help people in crisis, even when no one is looking. As a graduate student, I also provide virtual counseling to individuals and couples in Virginia and Texas. In these counseling sessions, I strive to put my clients first by helping them meet their goals and providing support to improve their mental health. At the end of the day, I may not be able to control the hurtful comments that people within and outside my culture may say to me, but I find resiliency in honoring my own story and the stories of others who are also navigating a hyphenated identity as an AAPI.
Sharon Kim
University of PennsylvaniaFort Lee, NJ
Chelsea Kimball
Widener University-Delaware Law SchoolPhiladelphia, PA
I am a first-generation Filipino-African American 3L law student at Delaware Law School. My grandparents, who were farmers, only had an elementary education. Akin to many Filipino parents, my mother wanted me to go into medicine for the money, but I desired to go into practicing law to be the change that I wanted to see in my community. My grandparents were selfless individuals that worked and sacrificed to ensure that my mother and her siblings would receive a better education. Their sacrifices inspired me to use my education and privilege as a law student—and soon-to-be attorney—to help alleviate those in disadvantaged situations. I am interested in AAPI and minority communities because there are not enough of us in the law. Although I have acquired several legal-related job and internships throughout my time in law school, I am incredibly proud of the contributions that I have made on campus and in my APPI/BIPOC communities. As classes resumed in person on campus during my second year, I joined clubs to mentor incoming first-year students and help to further diversity initiatives on campus. I became the secretary of the Asian Law Student Association (ALSA), which led to my 2022-2023 election as Vice President. As the Vice President of ALSA, I have executed several events to increase club participation, serve the community, and educate the student body on the impact of Asian- American lawyers throughout history. Additionally, I am on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board of my school. As a Council member of the DEI Board, I promote the ideas and mission of ALSA by helping to improve cultural competency, promote the admissions of a more diverse student body and create campus events alongside the other affinity groups. I am also the 2022-23 Secretary for both the Women’s Law Caucus (WLC) and Food and Drug Law Association. As one of a few API/BIPOC members of WLC, I applied for a role on the executive board to expand WLC’s mission to incorporate more events tailored to acknowledging the contributions of ALL women in the legal field. For example, we are creating a Women’s Day event that will have female, alumni guest speakers from all the affinity groups on campus. Additionally, I have helped in past event collaborations between ALSA and WLC. Aside from my on-campus activities, I volunteer with Sanctuary Farms in North Philadelphia helping to end systemic racial oppression and economic injustice by converting abandoned areas into gardens to promote nutrition and growth in food deserts. Additionally, I volunteer with the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia executing pro bono work in-person and remotely for low-income Philadelphians in need of legal assistance. Furthermore, I also volunteer with Delaware Volunteer Legal Services as a Law Clerk conducting intakes for low-income individuals seeking legal assistance in a variety of legal matters. The stereotype is that Filipinos are just nurses. I have taken initiatives in my communities to demonstrate that Filipinos are also leaders. I believe that through my work history, volunteer experiences and contributions on and off campus, I have displayed the inherent professionalism, excellence, integrity and leadership found in the Filipino/AAPI culture.
Nadia Eugene Jo
Stanford UniversityStanford, CA
Charu Vijay
Tufts UniversitySaratoga, CA
"CHARU DON'T WASTE THAT PAPER TOWEL!" I heard my mom shout from a different room. "How did you even know I was using a paper towel?" I wondered, as I flattened the crumpled sheet for the next person to use. My Asian immigrant parents are the "sustainability OGs", as they like to call themselves. When we had a lesson on the Great Pacific Garbage path in 6th grade Earth science, I was unable simply to move on to the next topic. Knowing that the plastics we use every day will never, ever disappear from the oceans struck a chord in me that no other lesson had. On the way home from school, I mentioned this to my mom and she lamented "I wish they still did things like they did in India, when I was growing up." Confused, I asked her to elaborate. Growing up in America, especially before the modern environmental movement, I was used to a culture of convenience. People bought new machines instead of repairing old ones and happily grabbed an extra couple of plastic bags at the store. My mom contrasted her upbringing in India with mine. “I used to take Paatti’s (the Tamil word for grandmother) metal box to the store to get spices. To bring sugar, we put it in a rolled-up newspaper and tie the top with a jute string. We didn't have the luxury of plastic." I'd never heard plastic described as a luxury before. My parents carried this mindset of disposability being equal to luxury to the U.S, even when our family could afford plastic dishes. We reused every single sauce container from the store and transitioned old clothes to cleaning rags rather than throwing them out. Our Indian culture presents as one of conservation and respect for the Earth, something I am extremely proud of. My parents' mindset combined with my attention to the Earth turned into a fervent passion for sustainability I carried through high school and into college. At Tufts, I'm majoring in Data Science & Environmental Studies, hoping to ideate a technical solution to our environmental problems. To get more involved in this field, I joined the Tufts Office of Sustainability as a Program Intern. Here, I was responsible for coordinating between office groups, such as the Green Fund and Communications groups, to ensure that events were zero-waste and got plenty of student attention. Furthermore, I planned EarthFest by reaching out to over 80 organizations and garnering ~400 student participants. But somehow, it wasn't enough. I wanted to make an impact on the Somerville/Medford community where Tufts is located, not only on the students attending. In order to do this, I founded the Tufts National Student Data Corps (NSDC) Chapter, with the main goal of using project-based collaboration to make data-driven decisions to help local small businesses. We have contacted an environmental nonprofit that teaches elementary schoolers sustainability using hands-on learning principles. Students are in the process of learning data science skills to be able to accurately clean and visualize the nonprofit's marketing data. Although this club is in its nascent stages of development, my team and I have amassed over 70 students passionate about making an impact on their community. While I'm extremely proud of our club's ability to utilize Tableau and PL/pgSQL to help the environment, I know fancy code isn't always necessary. As my parents and grandparents taught me, just by reusing my plastic spoon and walking instead of driving, we can all make a difference.
Alexia Leclercq
Harvard CollegeAustin, TX
Ashley Valois
Clark UniversityWorcester, MA
Maansi Gupta
Brown UniversityProvidence, RI
Gaeun Ahn
Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland, OH
Durga Jambunathan
Teachers College at Columbia UniversityBrooklyn, NY
1) What does your AAPI culture mean to you and/or why are you interested in Asian American studies/languages? “Do you speak Tamil?” I was starting to lose track of how many times this dreaded question had been asked of me this trip. My auntie looked at me expectantly and I sheepishly answered, like I had to other relatives countless times before, “I can understand only a little, just the basics.” My parents immigrated to the U.S. from South India in the 80s to the small town of Pryor, Oklahoma. Since then, we have lived in Missouri and then a couple years later, Kansas; Never straying from the midwest. Growing up, my parents were trying to assimilate to the US while also raising my brother and myself. This, in addition to living in areas that lacked racial diversity, led to a lack of connection with my heritage and cultural identity. My parents made it a point for our family to visit India every two years during the Summer. These trips have always been a treasured time in my life--the amazing food, reconnecting with my extensive extended family, and being immersed in Indian culture. As I grew older, on each trip I became more acutely aware of how removed I felt from my own culture. It has been the most recent trip, this past Summer, that I have been trying to make more of a conscious effort to internalize as much knowledge I can about my roots. Learning more about Hinduism and Tamil has not only made me feel more secure in my identity, but makes me feel closer to my family even when they are so far away. Learning about my AAPI heritage and the ancient rich culture associated with it also makes me more curious and conscious about other Asian cultures as well. I continue to be inspired to work toward more cultural competence. 2) How do you display one or more of these qualities (service excellence, professionalism, integrity, cultural diversity, and/or human development) as a leader in your respective community? I have a passion for working with--and advocating for--people. At my undergraduate institution, I was heavily involved in the community. Through the Student Governing Association, I served as a senator and the Chair of the On-Campus Allocations Committee. As a senator, I have written legislation that forwards inclusive acts at my undergraduate institution, including the reading of a land acknowledgement at every senate meeting and revising Title IX procedures. As a Chair, I led my own committee dedicated to funding on campus events and college open houses. This year, I’ve overseen a $29,000 budget and have had the opportunity to help navigate a two-million-dollar recall. I also served as a student representative on smaller faculty committees as well as regularly met with administration through the Intercultural Leadership Council. I was in a unique position where I got to give direct feedback to my college’s administration and create a dialogue about the needs of marginalized students. For the Arts and Sciences’ Ambassadors, I have spent two years serving as the Diversity Chair, which involves the long process of planning and hosting the Student Diversity Summit, an event that gives marginalized students a chance to voice their college experiences. This last year, I served as the president of ambassadors and led meetings of more than 50 students weekly. Within ambassadors, I have met with multiple prospective psychology students and have been a mentor to them. My undergraduate career has been shaped by continuously doing work that directly relates to my career goals of being a counselor for young girls of color. My diversity-related work is necessary, especially in a community that has had several racially charged incidents. I don’t just talk about how to implement change; I do everything in my power to ensure actionable change is being facilitated.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 14, 2023. Winners will be announced on Jun 14, 2023.

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