2015 Recipients

Jasmine Banks – North Port, Florida

Florida International University

My name is Jasmine Banks, I am 18 years old and I currently reside in North Port, Florida. I was born in Taiwan, but from just looking at me, most people would never guess I have any Asian in me. I was in foster care for 9 years before I was adopted by my father along with my older sister. I had a rough childhood and teen years, but I have accomplished so much and came so far to where I am today. I have recently graduated in the top 20% of my class from North Port High School with Honors. I was very involved in my school and community I was the Track and Field and Weightlifting team Captain, Senior Class Vice President, Boys Varsity team manager, I was also a part of Link Crew, National Honor Society and a mentor for our local elementary school. I am attending Florida International University in the fall and will be a walk on for their Track and Field team. I am currently undecided on a major but I plan on double majoring in Chinese Literature to gain the Chinese I have lost and to become more advanced in the language, and study international relations. With these two degrees I hope to work for the Government, and be a traveling translator or in a similar career field. Or to major in abnormal Psychology and business in hopes of opening my own practice. I am beyond grateful for this scholarship and opportunity and to have help towards my education. Thank you.


Che-Kai Chang – New Hyde Park, New York

New York University

The name that people usually call me as is Kyle Chang. However, I am formally known as Che-Kai Chang, with “Kyle” just being a convenient, easy-to-pronounce nickname for others to say. I believe that a name alone does not define a person, but everything that happens to him and his hopes for the future. I am going to New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering as an incoming freshman this coming fall and will be majoring in Computer Science. I believe that this major is the right choice for me because I find computers and how they work fascinating. In addition, the knowledge and logic that keeps this kind of technology alive is very interesting. I believe that the purpose of being human is to help others with their problems, whether it is trying to find a cure for cancer or helping a neighbor move some of his belongings around. It is sad how there are people who like to take advantage of others for their own desires. They do not see that there is a wonderful feeling of gratification when assisting others with their problems. I wish that people can see the usefulness of working for the community that they are in, not just working for themselves. John Nash said, in the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” that in order to achieve that best outcome, it is not enough for each person to work for themselves, but to cooperate and work for what is best for the group. That way, all the individuals benefit. I just believe that the more fortunate people should just care more about the less fortunate people’s suffering.


Ivy Chen – Garden Grove, California

University of California, Irvine

My name is Ivy Chen, and I am a Taiwanese American from Garden Grove, California. Growing up, my biggest supporters were my family members—my two sisters and parents. They’ve taught me to be compassionate and hardworking, while also encouraging me to do my best in school and other activities. I owe many of my successes to them, and I am very thankful to have such a supportive family. Born and raised in Orange County, I have come to enjoy various outdoor activities, especially track and archery. Throughout high school I have been track captain and have been the president of the archery club there. When I have some free time, I like to sew and volunteer within my community. During high school, I was in volunteer clubs such as National Honors Society and Key Club. I recently graduated from Pacifica High School and will be attending UC Irvine in the fall of 2015. At UCI, I plan to major in Biological Sciences and hopefully minor in Cognitive Science so that I can work towards becoming a primary care physician. As a physician, I can continue what I believe I am good at doing: giving and making people smile. There are many unfortunate people out there, and I believe that as a doctor I can make the lives of those better by relieving them of their pain and saving them. Furthermore, I would like to achieve my dream of volunteering with the Doctors without Borders organization and saving the lives of other individuals around the world. 


Leona Chen – Temple City, California

University of California, Berkeley

I was born seventeen years ago in San Gabriel, but I live in Temple City, California and graduated from Temple City High School. I am grateful to have the best parents on Earth, who are both my friends and mentors in life. My mother is a Taiwanese citizen (my whole maternal side all reside in Taiwan), while my father was from Nanning, China. I also have an incredibly wise brother named Kevin, who influenced me to appreciate my Chinese/Taiwanese heritage. I have not seen him in two years, as he teaches English in Japan. I love my family very much, and I value spending time with them. My hobbies and interests have been constantly changing as I grow older and discover new things.  But one thing is for sure, though I do not currently have a pet, I love furry animals and hope to adopt a Poodle mix one day. My father used to purchase pet beta fish, but they always mysteriously pass away. I like to ride my bicycle when the weather is nice, because it’s exciting to see my neighborhood speed behind me. Ironically, my favorite TV show is The Walking Dead, because it is horrifyingly repulsive. I absolutely love any science-fiction movies, and my current favorite is Interstellar, because it gave me terrifying chills.  In the fall, I will be a freshman at UC Berkeley and will find my way through a campus of bright scholars. I will most likely be majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology, and either become a researcher or pursue the no-sleep doctor career.  I am very grateful for the Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund for selecting me, as it lifts a portion of the money-burdening stress away. I hope to discover more things about myself, and develop into an independent go-getter at Berkeley!


Naomi Chien – Mesa, Arizona

Arizona State University

My name is Naomi Chien and I am a graduate of Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona.  Born in Taiwan, I moved to the United States when I was eight years old, allowing me to exhibit a blend of Taiwanese and American culture.  Mandarin Chinese is my first language, with English close behind; at the age of thirteen, I started learning Spanish as my third language.  Throughout the years, I have completed ten AP classes, earned the honor of AP Scholar with Distinction, and graduated as the valedictorian of my class with a 4.882 GPA.  Besides schoolwork, I love dedicating my time to extracurricular activities.  In the past two years, I have served on the Mesa Mayor’s Youth Committee and acted as a representative for Dobson at the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State.  In addition, my desire to give back to my community has prompted me to become a volunteer at the Chinese Linguistic School of Phoenix as well as the 2014 Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages English Summer Program in Taiwan.  Aside from involvement in my community, I enjoyed serving my high school as president of Key Club, vice president of the National Honor Society, and vice president of Orchestra Council.  Music is my passion and the violin has been my companion for twelve years.  Through my parents’ support and my violin teacher’s patient teaching, I had the privilege of earning a chair in Arizona Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra three years in a row.  I also had the honor of serving as concertmaster of my high school’s top orchestra and performing the Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 by Lalo as the violin soloist.  In the Fall, I am attending Barrett, the Honors College, at Arizona State University to study Biological Sciences in pursuit of a medical career.


Travis Chin – Montgomery, Alabama

University of Alabama at Birmingham

A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Travis Chin is a first-generation Taiwanese American who is an active member of the music scene in the community and surrounding areas. He started his formal music lessons for the violin at the age of three and the piano at six. He also was a founding member of the prominent music project that provides students a musical education regardless of their financial status: The Montgomery Music Project. He is a graduate of the prestigious Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) high school in Montgomery Alabama where he graduated with advanced honors. During his time at LAMP, he also played an integral role in the student life holding many positions including being a founding member and past president for the school’s first Asian American Club, Director of the Arts Club, and Student Council Vice-President. While a student at LAMP, Travis was one out of 100 in the entire United States to be named as a Horatio Alger National Scholar for 2014. Other awards include being a 2014 National Achievement Semi-Finalist, Montgomery Lions Club Scholar, and a fellowship scholarship awarded by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He currently is attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham under the tutelage of the world class pianist Yakov Kasman. He is majoring in Musical Performance and minoring in Business with a concentration in Copyright Law. Travis has also been part of many orchestras since starting his studies at the age of three. He currently is a permanent member of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. His past memberships include being the former concert master for both of the Montgomery Youth Orchestra and the Alabama Youth Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the Miami Symphony.


Esther Ho – Irvine, California

University of Southern California

Hi, my name is Esther Ho! I am a second-generation Taiwanese American, and I absolutely love Taiwanese food! In my high school career, I loved to serve as leadership in several clubs like ACCESS Christian Club, KIWINS, Speak for Change, IMPACT and the Ronald McDonald House Club; I also volunteered at the local Taiwanese-Chinese School as a secretary. I play the piano, guitar, violin, drums, and I sing. I enjoy nature and take several walks a day, draw anything and everything, drink gallons of tea every day, listen to music, read books, make pottery, and give back to the community in all ways that I can. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture–this fall, I will be a sophomore at the University Of Southern California School Of Architecture. When I was in my junior year of High School, I attended several mission trips to Mexico where my team and I built houses and played with the local children at the churches. This helped me to realize my true passion for architecture: architecture is the perfect amalgamation of science, math, design, art, and intuitive problem solving that allows me to give back to the community in a creative way. The psychology behind space in architecture is intriguing; the field is also unique because it allows me to foster people-to-people relationships. I want to genuinely thank the Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund for this opportunity; this amount will alleviate pressure from my mother as a single parent, and I feel more able to concentrate on my studies. Thank you for investing in my future!


Whitney Hsu – Irvine, California

Northeastern University

My name is Whitney Hsu, and I am from Orange County. I was born and raised in Southern California, while both my parents are Taiwanese citizens who immigrated to America with their families. I will be a sophomore this upcoming fall at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. I am majoring in Pharmacy and plan to be a pharmacist in the hospital or community setting. I hope by becoming a pharmacist that I will be able to help people gain more access to the knowledge in obtaining their medication to treat the illness. Having patients and the people around them understand what types of medicine they are taking in depth helps reduce the medication errors and that became my motivation in becoming a pharmacist after being exposed to the background of the pharmacy field in my first year. Receiving this scholarship means a lot to my family and me. Since I am the first in the family to attend college, the process was a very new experience to us so I was not fully exposed to what I needed. The first year in college was a fun experience; however, with financial burden and loans to pay, the money issue always echoed in my mind. Now that my sister is getting ready to go to college, there would be more difficulties with finances. But with this scholarship, it has created a leeway for my family and I so that I can continue attending college, and that my sister has a chance to apply for the colleges she wants and to have an exciting memory for her last year in high school. Thank you so much to the Taiwanese American Scholarship for this gracious award and for investing to not only my future but also my sister’s.


Jacqueline Kao – Diamond Bar, California

University of California, Irvine

My name is Jacqueline or Jackie for short. I was born in Whittier, California and raised in a small city known as Diamond Bar. My mom’s side is from Beijing, China and my dad’s is from Taipei, Taiwan. As a first generation U.S. born child in my family, I am grateful to be able to experience the diverse cultures and magnificent history, language, literature, architecture, dance, music, science, food, and nature’s beauty of America, China, and Taiwan. I grew to obtain a deep appreciation for the arts of all cultures, and from an early age, I was positive I would pursue a career in the art world. However, as a senior at Diamond Bar High School, I was applying for colleges and had doubts of whether a career in the arts would be a practical and wise choice. Families, friends, and even strangers have consistently expressed their disbeliefs in sustaining a life as an artist. Despite constant negativity, I am currently following my dreams as a freshmen art major, doubling in Business Administration at the University of California, Irvine. As for my future career goals, I aspire to be an interior designer and possibly look into architecture as well. I strongly believe that the right environment can shape and nurture one’s character. My passions in a variety of fields offer me self-confidence and motivation to go after many opportunities, such as filming for an international commercial for Apple Inc. Face Time in 2012, attending Ryman Arts with a full scholarship, serving the community as the 3rd Princess of the 2014 Miss Taiwanese American, and performing on the China Airlines float for the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena.


Justin Kuo – Redondo Beach, California

University of California, Los Angeles

Justin Kuo is 18 years old and graduated from Torrance High School. Both of his parents immigrated from Taiwan and raised him in New York until their family moved to the Southbay in 2002. He was named a valedictory scholar and accumulated a 4.64 GPA, part of his school’s varsity volleyball team where he served as captain for 2 years, he is in the school’s Associated Student Body, was the 2014 representative for Torrance High at Boy’s State, and actively involved in both extracurriculars and other activities within his community. He has participated in various organizations including Boy Scouts of America. Within Boy Scouts, Justin attained the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 14 and earned 4 additional eagle palms. He also served as the Senior Patrol Leader for a year and led his troop on their long term hike to Mt. Whitney. Justin began playing piano at 5 years old and violin at the age of 7. In 2007, he was part of the pit orchestra for the performance of Les Miserables and at the age of 12, won 2nd place in the Southbay Youth Music Festival. In addition, he has been a part of the El Camino College Symphony Orchestra since his freshman year where he has served as the concertmaster for 3 years and performed Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. With his spare time, he volunteers with many different organizations playing music at senior citizen homes, hanging out with kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, feeding the homeless, and participating in community beautification. In the fall, he plans to attend the University of California Los Angeles and major in business economics and minor in music.


Rhea Lin – Walnut, California

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

My name is Rhea Lin and I recently graduated from Walnut High School. I am an ABC girl whose parents are from Taiwan. I think of myself as a clumsy, loyal, perpetually hungry, accepting, and starry-eyed individual with an undying passion for all things science and music. I also have an unhealthy obsession for movie soundtracks (especially those of Hans Zimmer) and K-pop. In high school, my heart and soul belonged to jazz band, the Future Business Leaders of America organization, and the Walnut Solar Car Team. Highlights of my high school career were being a part of my FBLA Entrepreneurship team, learning to play new instruments, and getting accepted into college.  In the future, I dream of building, inventing, or designing something revolutionary that can help a lot of people. I believe that the ultimate purpose of my life is to have fun and bring happiness to myself and others in any way, shape, or form.  This summer, I plan to compete in the annual national Solar Car Challenge in Texas for the third year with my solar car team and then chill for the rest of the time. I hope I can also go to Taiwan again to reunite with my cousins and grandparents and eat a lot of yummy Taiwanese food.  I will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this coming fall. I look forward to learning about all kinds of intriguing things from the most phenomenal professors in the world and forming friendships with my genius classmates. I am forever indebted to my parents and my younger sister Phoebe who has always been and always will be my greatest inspirations.


Michelle Lyu – Chino Hills, California

University of Pennsylvania

Michelle Lyu will attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall as a Biological Basis of Behavior major. She graduated from Diamond Bar High School as valedictorian, where she led the school’s yearbook as editor-in-chief, French Club as president, and California Scholarship Federation as vice president her senior year. She also served as the president of P.A.I.N.T. Club for two years, a club dedicated to assisting disadvantaged homeowners by painting and renovating their houses. Over the years, she also participated in community service outside of school, where she developed a strong passion for helping others by volunteering at various locations including the Chino Hills Library, Ontario Kaiser Hospital, and Oak Canyon Nature Center. In the summer before her senior year, she spent a month interning at an internal medicine clinic and a month in Taiwan, where she taught English to disadvantaged students in rural communities. Growing up, Michelle discovered she loved science, whether it was through observing nesting birds, working on junior high school physics experiments, or poring through scientific novels. She aspires toward a future that will blend her passion for biology with her love of helping others, whether it is through a career in medicine, research, or another field. Although she is keeping an open mind with her college major selection, ultimately, her goal is to benefit others by doing something she truly loves. Finally, Michelle would like to sincerely thank her family for their unconditional love and support and the Asian Pacific Community Fund for helping her further her education while supporting her aspirations.


Benice Mach – Oakland Gardens, New York

SUNY Binghamton University

Benice Mach has recently become part of Benjamin N. Cardozo’s alumni family this past June. She currently resides in Queens, New York and will be starting the next chapter of her life at Binghamton University this upcoming fall, as an incoming freshman. Her mother and father are from Taiwan and Vietnam, respectively. She is known to be extremely hyper and bubbly to the point where her mother thought she was hyperactive ever since she was a little girl. Benice has always been an active participant in school and her community where she would volunteer at her local library and read to little kids. She even joined a school club where she would visit an elementary school and help little kids with their homework. Benice believes that a simple smile is powerful enough to influence others around her. Therefore, she participated in the Quality of Life Innovation, where she proposed and implemented a project to make her school a better place called P.O.T.S (Power of the Smile) with a friend. Being part of Cardozo’s DaVinci’s Math and Science Program, she decided to take the math research class and ended up winning a gold medal at the Metropolitan Math Fair. During high school, she also decided to pick up running as a hobby and joined her school’s track team for three years and won the scholar’s award all three years. Benice spent her senior year mostly working at an afterschool, with little kids, but she still served as the Social Events Coordinator in her school’s National Honor Society.  Even though Benice is still undecided on a major, she hopes to pursue a career related to event planning or interior design. However, no matter what happens Benice knows that if she “keep[s] smiling … one day life will get tired of upsetting [her].”


Ta-Chung (Morris) Mou – Ellicott City, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

Last year, Morris was among the many high school seniors trying really hard to see himself in different university settings and figuring out where to go. He decided to stay close to his home in Maryland. Now, entering into his second year of undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, he continues to pursue a double major in the field of neuroscience and molecular and cellular biology. He currently works in a neuroscience laboratory at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and investigates synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, he is also involved in the Hopkins Hosting Society and the first year and transfer student orientation program, helping both prospective and incoming students get to know campus and adjust to university lifestyle. In terms of community outreach, Morris participates in the Tutorial Project, one of Hopkins’s oldest program helping Baltimore City elementary school children with reading, writing, and mathematics. Although he hasn’t decided between graduate and medical school after four years at Hopkins, Morris is certain that he will carry on his passion for scientific endeavors whether in research or the practice of medicine. At the same time, he expresses great interests in the fine arts. The medical illustration program offered by the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine is one of the many reasons that drive him to Hopkins.


Amber Tu – Hacienda Heights, California

St. Louis College of Pharmacy

My name is Amber Tu and I am 17 years old. In high school, I was a part of the cross country and track team, participated in Link Crew, which is a leadership organization on campus, and volunteered at the Red Cross program in Taiwan as well as a club called Autism Youth Ambassadors. I currently live in Hacienda Heights, California with my grandparents, parents, my older sister, and my younger brother. Both my grandparents and parents came from Taiwan and all of our relatives are of Taiwanese descent. In the fall of 2015, I will be attending St. Louis College of Pharmacy, as a freshman, in St. Louis, Missouri. My major will be emphasized on obtaining a pharmaceutical degree and in the future, I hope to gain some work experience within the pharmacy field before eventually opening my own pharmacy store alongside my two siblings. This scholarship will help start the continuation of my education at St. Louis College of Pharmacy which is a seven year, out-of-state college program. Additionally, this scholarship will help my parents who also have to support my two other siblings’ college tuitions.


Jen-Yeu Wang – San Gabriel, California

University of California, Berkeley

My name is Jen-Yeu Wang. I am graduating from Northwood High School in Irvine and will attend the University of California, Berkeley, as chemistry major. Throughout high school, I have participated in diverse extracurricular activities such as speech and debate, music, language-learning, and tutoring. I enjoy taking classes on a variety of subjects, including those not part of my intended field of study; overall, I love learning because we have access to a practically unlimited amount of information, and I am just too inquisitive to pass off the opportunity to learn anything that comes my way. My interests are diverse as well, ranging from politics to linguistics; however my main passion is chemistry. Having taken numerous chemistry classes and labs, I believe that the most fundamental method to solve the world’s problems is through chemistry, whether it be energy, nuclear applications, or fuel. At UC Berkeley, I will take advantage of the opportunities given to me because they are unique and will shape my future. I would like to become involved in research, given that UC Berkeley is one of the top research schools in the world and often considered number one in chemistry. Hopefully, I will meet people who are or will become experts in their field of study, and they will become life-long friends. After college, I plan to attend medical school so that I can become a significant contributor to society by helping those that need help. I am very grateful to the Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund for the amazing award because the scholarship will help me focus on my academics, so that I can achieve my educational and career goals.


Andersen Yang – San Francisco, California

University of California, Davis

My name is Andersen Yang and I am an incoming freshmen undergraduate to the University of California, Davis. I am planning to major in biochemical engineering with an emphasis on biomedical sciences. Born and raised in San Francisco, I am culturally aware of my city’s diversity. San Francisco embodies a melting pot of different kinds of race, religion, sex, and educational levels. With a huge Asian population, I am not seen as a minority. Growing up in this city has shaped my character to be more open to differences in the human race, physical and behavioral attributes, and socio-economic status. I am a first generation Asian American in which my family had immigrated here from the continent of Asia. I have heard many narratives, of stories of Asian immigrants to California over a span of almost 200 years. We have experienced and heard the struggles, anguish, and perseverance our own race had tread through to make an impact.  In the same way, I emulate many of the Chinese or Taiwanese immigrants’ goals and aspirations in America. We all want to pursue the well- known American Dream, a reason that attracts an influx of immigrants each year. In my case, I come from a low income family and a frugal lifestyle trying to utilize every resource possible for educational purposes and career opportunities. I have an interest in medicine, but I also have a forte for problem solving. I want to bridge together engineering and medicine in hope to solve complex medical problems our society holds.  Aside from career oriented details about me, I enjoy walking leisurely around my city, jogging, reading social and political news articles, and having conversations with friends on social media.

Five years later: I am now pursuing public health as a career. While my interests have moved away from solving complex medical problems with engineering, I am now more acutely aware of the deeper issues within our healthcare system such as the role of social determinants in health. Social determinants like race, socioeconomic status, and even where someone lives affect health and well-being outcomes. I am also passionate about seeking health equity and using data, storytelling, and narratives to bring healing and change within our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. At the end of the day, my goal is really to better the lives of people who are in need. Furthermore, I have been so inspired by the donors of TASF who believe in giving back to their communities. Thank you again for providing financially towards my college education!


Katherine Yang – Roanoke, Virginia

University of Virginia

My name is Katherine Yang. I am an American born Taiwanese. I’ve lived in Roanoke, Virginia my entire life, 19 years. Both of my parents were born and raised in Taiwan, and I am half Hakka, from my mother’s side. I am grateful for the opportunities that my parents haven given me to be able to return to Taiwan to learn more about my culture and fall in love with the country more each time. I graduated from my high school valedictorian and went on to the University of Virginia to study Mechanical Engineering with an anticipated minor in Computer Science. I hope that once I graduate, I can pursue a career focused on medical devices, and even more specifically with pediatric patients.  My most recent experiences in Taiwan aided me in choosing this career path. I spent two summers volunteering with the Red Cross and Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) in Taiwan teaching English to children and aiding those in need. These experiences and memories led me to who I am today, an American born Taiwanese in love with both sides of her culture.  At the University of Virginia, I am active in my volunteer work and community and hope to do so as a rising second year. In my first year of college, I became active in two organizations: Trigon, an engineering society, and alpha Kappa Delta Phi, an international Asian-American interest sorority. I also frequently volunteer with an organization named Madison House by tutoring English-Second Language (ESL) students at the local elementary schools.   With the aid of the Taiwanese Award Scholarship Fund, I can continue to stay active in my community and strive towards my degree. I hope to honor this award and thank those that have given me this wonderful opportunity.