Six awarded McDonald's scholarships

Updated: 2014-06-02 11:38

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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Ronald McDonald House Charities today awarded a $16,000 college scholarship to each of six Asian-American students from the New York tri-state area.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities/Asia (RMHC/ASIA) scholarship has been given annually for the past 14 years, identifying and supporting students who have financial need. To date, the program has awarded $1.3 million.

All of this year's scholarship recipients are of East-Asian descent: Eileen Jin is Chinese American, and Joseph Kim, Juliet Kim, Sam Kim, Juho Lee, and Winston Lee are Korean American. They were chosen from more than 1,100 applicants from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The students were given their scholarships at a reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. It was hosted by NY1 News TV anchor Vivian Lee and featured a keynote address from Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang.

Christopher Perry, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area, told China Daily at the reception that there is a perception that Asian students are the brightest students in the country but that that comes with high expectations, so Ronald McDonald House Charities wanted to set money aside "to reward their successes in overcoming those challenges".

"We find that it's important to specifically recognize the accomplishments of Asian-American students with this scholarship because of the unique challenges that Asian-American students face in American society, so we like to specifically earmark a certain pool of money to give to those students," he said.

In his remarks, Hwang encouraged the students to "break the rules" to find out what they really enjoy doing, which may mean not going with what Asian parents have traditionally taught their children.

Hwang told China Daily this is the first time he has worked with the Ronald McDonald House Charity and that knowing that the students have financial need contributed to his interest in working with the organization.

"College is ridiculously expensive nowadays, and it's really important that college not become something that only a few people can afford, or that kids come out with debt that they'll never be able to get out from under, so awards like this are worth supporting," Hwang said. "I think that sometimes the model minority stereotype can get in our way. There's this perception out in the mainstream that our kids just kind of manage to achieve and they'll just be successful, and they don't need any extra support. We all know that that's not true, and that's why having awards and scholarships that are targeted to Asian American community to sort of compensate for that stereotype on the part of the larger culture."

Jin, the sole Chinese-American recipient, attends Hunter College High School in New York and will be attending Fordham University in the fall to major in child psychology.

When she received a letter notifying her that she was being awarded one of the scholarship, Jin said her mother "thought that this was just another college letter and was going to throw it out, but I'm really glad I opened it. I was very shocked and we were both very happy, and we're still very happy."

Jin said that she wants to work with children either as a teacher or as a social worker.

"There are a lot of children out there who don't have homes that they should be in," she said, "but we'll see where college takes me."

 Six awarded McDonald's scholarships

Recipients of the 2014 Ronald McDonald House Charities/Asia Scholarship, given annually to Asian-American students in the New York tri-state area, are. from left: Sam Kim, student at Stuyvesant High School in New York; Joseph Kim of Fairlawn High School in New Jersey; Juliet Lee of Hackley School in New York; Eileen Jin of Hunter College High School in New York; and Juho Kim, a student at Tenafly High School in New Jersey. Amy He / China Daily

(China Daily USA 06/02/2014 page3)