2020 Recipients

Derrick Chen – Okeechobee, FL

Dual Foreign Languages, University of Florida

In Fall of 2020, I will be attending the University of Florida as a transfer student to pursue my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dual Foreign Languages, which includes Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. Since I grew up in a Taiwanese American household, I am able to speak, comprehend, read, and write traditional Mandarin — I was also raised speaking the Taiwanese Minnan dialect. I am pursuing this language in university in order to formally improve my fluency and preserve my family’s mother tongue for future generations. After earning my degree in Chinese Mandarin and Arabic, I plan to enlist in the United States Army as an interpreter and translator, as it is the best way to utilize my passion and talent for languages. My ultimate goal in life is to serve as a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both of these career paths allow me to serve and protect the country to which my family immigrated 40 years ago, while simultaneously enjoying and pursuing my talents with which I have been blessed. My passion for languages goes hand-in-hand with my desire to serve and protect not only my home, but my Taiwanese heritage as well. It is my hope to spread knowledge of this unique culture and my family’s dying language. Someday, I plan to return to Taiwan in hopes of formally learning the Minnan dialect so that I am able to keep it alive and well with my family remaining here in the States.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have been brought to light in this world, but the most important lesson that I am learning is the meaning of sacrifice. My grandparents are my world, so it has been extremely difficult to be far away from them for long periods of time. However, I have realized that in order to keep them safe and healthy, I have to sacrifice my desire to be with them to place their needs ahead of my wants. This pandemic has also reminded me of the meaning of family and our inextricably intertwined bonds.


Henry Luu – San Bernardino, CA

Data Science, University of California, San Diego

Henry Luu was born and raised in San Bernardino, CA. His pronouns are he/ him/ his and he identifies as a Taiwanese American. He enjoys playing sports, exploring nature, and longboarding. He comes from a large family, with 7 older sisters. Growing up with so many older sisters played a crucial role in shaping his observant characteristics. His position in the family, as the youngest, provided him the opportunity to observe the nuances of human interaction. He learned conflict could be avoided if people are more cognizant of their approach to situations. Thus, he is emboldened to start conversations without judgment in order to bridge both sides of the story. Consequently, he is adept at mitigating conflict. Being observant allows Henry to be level-headed and properly gauge the tones of situations and gives him the chance to reflect on his own subsequent impact before he reacts. Henry recently graduated from San Gorgonio High School as the Class of 2020 Valedictorian and is excited to continue his education at the University of California, San Diego where he will be studying Data Science in Thurgood Marshall College. Growing up in a largely first-generation, low-income community, he has personally seen the effects of systemic inequality and of the asymmetric access to resources. Henry wants to challenge himself to learn more about the deep-rooted issues in society and initiate deeper conversations. He hopes that through Computer Science and Data Science, he can empower others in underserved areas to broaden their horizons, think critically, and challenge socioeconomic barriers they may face.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a significant, unsuspecting shock to everybody, affecting how we work, learn, and socialize with others. Throughout this pandemic, I have been staying home and staying socially distant in order to play my part in restricting the spread of the virus. While at home, I have been immersing myself in new books and taking part in a summer program at UCSD where I am gaining exposure into computer science. I hope that our country is able to control the spread of this virus and keep everybody safe.


Ian Wang – Diamond Bar, CA

Business Administration, Mount San Antonio College

Hello, my name is Ian Wang, and I am 18 years old. I was born in San Francisco and moved to Houston, Texas for 10 years. I recently moved to Los Angeles in the middle of my senior year. As a result, the longest time I have stayed in one school is three years. This has taught me how to adapt to new situations while maintaining my Taiwanese lifestyle and core values. I grew up in a church and my faith in God has been a major part of my life. The church has given me the opportunity to join the worship team and embark on a mission trip to a small rural village in Taiwan. Joining the worship team has sparked my passion for singing and playing guitar and going on this mission trip has given me a deeper connection to my Taiwanese descent. I would not be the person I am today without these experiences and my faith in God. Having started a new life in California, I will be attending Mount San Antonio College in the fall. I will be a business administration major, and I plan on transferring to either Cal State Fullerton or UC Irvine. I aspire to earn an MBA degree and find a stable job so that I can support my family. My mother is a single parent taking care of me and my brother, while my dad is working in Taiwan. I want to do my best in holding the weight for my parents and taking care of my little brother. I am very excited for the college journey ahead of me, and I want to thank TASF for this opportunity!

This current pandemic situation has given me a chance for self-reflection on my relationship with others, my faith in God, and my perspective on world matters. Living a life of social distancing, I have shown a tendency to be more introverted, focusing more on myself and avoiding everything else. However, by doing so I started to realize how I should be acting during this pandemic and what should be at the center of my life. I have reminded myself that even though the world has been changing, I should focus my heart and mind on reaching out to my friends and family, pursuing a pure and loving life in Christ, and responding to topics such as sexual abuse and racial injustice.


Kayla Hudson – Livingston, NJ

Psychology, New York University

My name is Kayla Hudson and I’m from Livingston, New Jersey. My great-grandmother emigrated from Taiwan to escape rising tensions before World War II. This fall semester, I will be attending New York University as a freshman. I will be starting at NYU’s Liberal Studies Core for two years and then I will be attending their College of the Arts and Sciences to major in psychology. As of now, I want to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist or a therapist (I’m still considering if I should go to med school) to provide people with a way to share their thoughts and feelings with someone whom they feel comfortable with sharing instead of repressing their emotions. I want to be able to help others avoid feeling lonely and stop them from engaging in harmful activities in an effort to escape from their emotions and/or everyday adversities. I’m aware that just creating a goal will only take me but so far, but to achieve my dream career I will need to work hard throughout my four years at New York University to make my goals a reality. Not only has the Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund brought me closer to achieving that goal, but they also motivated me to be successful in the future so I can help other low-income students achieve their dreams.

As a student in 2020, the Coronavirus Pandemic has taught me the importance of science. With some media outlets capitalizing off human fear, it’s hard to know if what we see online is true. However, science has been the only constant and reliable resource that humans can universally trust. As a result, the real heroes of this pandemic, like researchers who’re trying to create a vaccine and medical workers who’re trying to help infected civilians recover, are relying solely on their background in the medical field to help restore our world to some type of normalcy. Thanks to science, we can encounter and manage a pandemic without repeating the same mistakes made in the 14th century with the plague.


Kyla Yu-Swanson – San Diego, CA

Chemical Engineering/Material Sciences, California Institute of Technology

I’m Kyla Yu-Swanson, a 17-year-old from sunny San Diego. My Chinese name is 余琪. My maternal grandparents are both Taiwanese Chinese immigrants. Although I have not been to Taiwan since I was two years old to attend a family wedding, I hope to return and reconnect with my many Taiwanese relatives. Meanwhile I’ll be attending the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) this year leaning towards studying Chemical Engineering or Material Sciences. I aspire to use her degree to create more environmentally friendly products. I also like to draw and paint nature and floral designs. Eventually, I plan to compile my illustrations into an adult coloring book. I’ve also been involved in several public art projects, including at least three in the San Diego area. Thank you, Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund; your generous gift has both helped ease the strain of financing college and given me a stronger tie to my roots in Taiwan.

I’m currently taking a course called Math 0 in preparation for proof-based math at Caltech. Proof-based math is very different from any algebra or calculus I’ve done before. Learning to do proofs has restructured how I view math. Instead of just solving problems, I now have to prove basic principles I used to just assume. Math is much more nuanced and interesting to me now.


Megan Hernandez – Fresno, CA

Pre-Human Biology and Society, University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Megan Hsing-Huan Hernandez, I am a recent graduate of class of 2020. This fall, I will be attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) majoring in pre-human biology and society. My mother was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan before she moved to America for college on an athletic scholarship. Growing up, I spent almost every summer in Taiwan, for which all my extended family lives there. I love Taiwan and would like to spend a year studying abroad there in the future, in hopes of bettering my Mandarin Chinese and embarking more in Taiwanese culture. Here in the US, I attended Sunnyside High School in Fresno, California. During high school, I loved to be involved, I was my school’s representative on the district’s Student Advisory Board. I was also athlete of the year, playing volleyball and competing in track and field. Additionally, I was a student in the UCSF Doctors Academy, a program that guides low-income students from the central valley to pursue the medical field. Since I was in elementary school, I have dreamed of becoming a medical professional, and since then I have been working towards that goal. Through the Doctors Academy, I have gotten the opportunity to meet medical professionals of all kinds and even personally shadow them over the summer. Loving my experience in the operating room, I would like to pursue the path of being a surgeon. Outside the classroom, my mother and I volunteer at my local Tzu Chi Foundation, that aids the underserved in the central valley. It’s a way of giving back while being surrounded by my fellow Taiwanese people.

During the outbreak of COVID-19, schools and universities have closed which has put a halt in normal classroom lessons, however that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Classes have continued online and in home but regardless of textbook learning; I think there is a bigger lesson that I have learned during the quarantine. It’s that battles aren’t won by one man; it’s takes the whole group for action to take place. Unfortunately, during the battle against COVID-19, the US has been severely hurt due to the lack of effort from the whole group. The only way to flatten the curve is through an entire group’s collaboration and I hope we can achieve that soon.


Styvalizh Uribe – Alhambra, CA

Architecture, Columbia University

A native of the golden coast but raised in Taiwanese spirits, my life had been an unyielding line of Chinese culture and teachings. As I continued life through calligraphy competitions and grew up with a deep sense of self, my multiethnicity identity had been unexplored. The paradox was that while I identified as wholly taiwanese, my difference hindered me from being socially empowered. As black as my hair was, I continued to retain my Asian roots while assimilating into American culture. My love for black sugar milk tea with honey boba parallels my adoration of a fresh glass of horchata as my inability to handle spice aligns with my ability to scarf down tacos, spaghetti, and pad thai. This diversity allowed me to enter new heights of understanding, in both a breadth and depth in its examination of humanity. I am currently transitioning to my freshman year at Columbia University. I hope to study Architecture with a minor in sustainability, to complete research on building materials and methods in light of climate change. I hope to travel and study New York’s historical houses and how they were traditionally built to adapt to their continental climate. The goal of which is to understand and predict how they would perform in response to climate change and if alternative materials would be better suited. I hope to explore these topics and develop potential solutions that respect and incorporate the city’s unique architectural character, as well as promoting Taiwanese American representation.

We all have a fire within us, a passion that drives our motivation and allows us to better ourselves. Of speaking out to injustice. Of protecting our loved ones and community from an emotionally driven and physical pandemic. The most important thing I have learned from this pandemic is that mutual contempt can only get us so far. In actuality, it is love and acceptance that can allow an entire society to change for the better and become healthy and whole again. Currently, I am attending a Columbian journalism fellowship.


Sydney Hirayama – Honolulu, HI

Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Although I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, my childhood embodied the bustling streets of Taipei. My one-year old mind does not recall my first time in Taiwan, maybe only the smell of chou tofu. But, ever since then, my yearly visits give me more and more reasons to fall in love. The cheese-foam green tea, mouthwatering beef noodles, and soup filled dumplings reserve the top of my list of favorite delicacies. Still, nothing can top my ama’s cooking and I always go back for seconds. Besides food, I enjoy Taiwan for their undying hospitality embedded into the culture. Every meal is shared, and even friends of cousins are family. During gatherings, sounds of laughter from kids and the over enthusiastic gossip from aunties warm up the room, and I always feel at home. With that being said, I hope to take these qualities into my second year of college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I am majoring in Biology and continuing my pre-med path as an upcoming doctor. In the future, I wish to use my years of education to give back to the community. My utmost goal is to open up a free clinic that serves everyone, especially underprivileged individuals. There are times when my aspirations seem unattainable, but funds like the Taiwanese American Scholarship makes me realize the support that I have from my Taiwanese community. I am extremely grateful for this award which has inspired me to continue striving for the highest.

During this pandemic, I learned patience. Staying at home with my family 24/7 does get overwhelming. But there were a lot of entertaining and wholesome moments that I would never have experienced with them if they had been at work or school. My feelings of gratitude also strengthened especially for those who serve on the front lines and continue to fight against this virus. More so, I am very thankful for essential workers that risk their lives every day to do their jobs.


Tristan Griffith – Fernley, NV

Computer Science, Washington State University

The main reason why I wanted to go into Computer Science is to learn how to develop video games. Since a young age, I have played video game classics such as Super Mario Brothers 3, Tetris, and Mega Man. That influenced me to enjoy the finer details, the ideas and the way the people behind the games captured their own ideas. Washington State University allows me to pursue that and branch out, since I will be attending one of the nation’s best schools in this field. Washington State University also promised me that there are people like me, so perhaps I can start sooner on a few of my projects than I anticipated. I hope I have a wonderful time there and make new great friends. Perhaps create something that others can’t understand, and write wonderful stories, mostly because I always have enjoyed creating stories and visual novels. One of my biggest goals is to become a “indie” game developer, where random people like myself create amazing stories that even triple A parties have to notice. I want to be noticed in the involved game industry and hopefully inspire more people to be like me. Another goal I have is to find people that are in other fields so I can work with them and have them help me create my ideas onto a screen format, like coders, voice actors and others. Simply put, I want to start my own community around my games and watch that community grow from the ground up.

I learned that people are stupid, panicky and will freak out over anything they don’t understand. It’s honestly kind of tragic, since there is so much to see and do, but people never change. If people could be more informed of what is happening and why it is happening, the maybe 2020 wouldn’t have been as bad.


Yi Shan (Tina) Chang – Chandler, AZ

Business Data Analytics, Arizona State University

My name is Tina Chang and I am so grateful to be selected as one of the recipients of the Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will enable me to attend Arizona State University to pursue my Business Data Analytics major. Improvisation has become one of my biggest strengths. In fact, I am so obsessed with problem solving that I have decided to take it to the next level. In college, I am taking my Business Data Analytics major to the next level. I joined a research lab, where we are partnering with Adidas analyzing social media using sentiment analysis machine learning to improve their supply chain and marketing strategy. I am excited that I can apply my creativity and quick thinking to solve these issues. I cannot wait to tackle the corporate world. Academics has been the only constant in my life. I knew that if I succeeded academically, I would succeed no matter what. I took off running in college, maintaining good grades, making meaningful connections, and securing many leadership roles. My experience as an intern for many cultural clubs has taught me so much about organization and management. I was even able to land a facilitator role for WPC101, a class that prepares freshman business students for success. I am extremely excited to be able to pass on my acquired knowledge and help other students succeed.

I busy myself in quarantine by either learning about business models or practicing for the GMAT. Because my local library is shut down, I am utilizing free online websites and videos to self-study. I am also researching unconventional business models; more specifically online websites that do not utilize traditional business practices. I am also casually learning the art of café drink-making.