Congratulations to the 2012 AAWA Scholarship and AAWA Recognition Award Recipients. These recipients were honored at our annual banquet on April 21, 2012 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
2012 AAWA Scholarship Award Recipients
Maya Kavita Ramachandran
Maya was born in Fremont, California 18 years ago and has lived here all her life. With her penchant to excel in whatever she sets her mind on, she is graduating MSJHS as a valedictorian, an accomplished four year varsity basketball player who helped her school win the MVAL championships, took them to the NCS semifinals for the first time in their history and was recognized as the most outstanding player and athlete of the season. Maya is an accomplished Bharatanatyam – Indian classical dancer having trained for the last 12 years giving numerous solo performances, while raising money for educating young girls rescued from the slums and child labor in India. This dance form has also enabled her to get closer to her roots from India and understand the rich culture and values that is her legacy. Maya has always believed in the empowerment and equity of women and that women can do anything that men can do. She strives to mentor younger girls in her school to encourage them to take on challenges and be their best in academics, sports and other activities. She continues her passion to write about her convictions as a writer/editor of her school newspaper.
Maya is looking forward to a biological engineering and economics undergraduate program this fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston and is working towards a multidisciplinary career involving medicine, economics and journalism. She is honored to have been recognized by the Asian American Women Alliance for her achievements and will strive to promote their cause for women.
Madeline enjoys dedicating her time to her community through Sacred Heart and school clubs like Interact and GlamourGals. At Sacred Heart, Madeline works in the Clothes Closet where she organizes clothes, man- ages the store, and helps impoverished clients to quickly find clothes they need through her Spanish and Vietnamese speaking skills. Through Inter-act, Madeline helps organize events that raise money and awareness for poverty around the globe. Through GlamourGals, Madeline talks and plays cards with the elderly, bringing them joy. Due to her familial hardships, Madeline enjoys serving her community because she understands how painful hardships are and believes that everyone deserve support through their trials.
When she is not volunteering, Madeline spends countless hours practicing songs for her choir. In addition to singing, she enjoys theater, whether she is on stage performing or in the audience watching. Madeline hopes to further aid her community through her service and to continue learning about various aspects of the world throughout her life so as to help the people she encounters to have better lives economically, mentally, and spiritually.
Yanshuo Zhang is a second-year PhD student in Chinese studies from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford. Hailing from Sichuan, China, she is a published author and artist, and has a great passion for cross-cultural communication and fostering the well-being of the humanity in the 21st century.
Yanshuo grew up in one of the most splendid landscapes in China where the grandeur of nature opened up her mind and uplifted her soul. She came to the U.S. for college at age 18 and got her B.A. in English and French literature from St. Catherine University, a women’s college in Minnesota. This was a life-changing experience that taught her the importance of social responsibility and empowered her as a woman.
Yanshuo is active in charity work–she is starting a student charity group at Stanford to continue her childhood concern for the socially underprivileged; she is an artist who depicts the beauty of nature and humanity with her poetry and paintings. In addition, she aims at awakening the human conscience for our common well-being with her scholarly precision and meticulous research. She believes that all human beings have the same dreams, longings and sufferings, and it is only by joining our hands together can we face the future together. Women can particularly contribute to this effort with their unique attributes and sensibilities that cross over the fine boundaries separating human beings today. Yanshuo’s hero, Aung Shan Suu Ki, especially exemplifies how women can endure personal and social sufferings to bring peace to the world.
2012 AAWA Recognition Award Recipients
Cindy Dang arrived to the US during the flow of boat refugees from Vietnam in 1979. Ten months later, her father passed away. With her sister Tracy she went to stay with her aunt as her mom is still living in VN.
For the love of the ocean she joined the Navy in 1999. She was deployed to many places – Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Penang, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the memorable Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where her ship did a burial at sea ceremony for the WWII veterans. Honorably discharged from the Navy, she went through major depression, eating disorders, insomnia, and frequent nightmares. With the help of the veterans organization from LA, she found the VA hospital in West LA and was diagnosed with PTSD.
She has worked very hard to overcome the situation and move forward. She finds her voice by volunteering for political candidates that tackle issues she feels strongly about and close to her heart. She volunteers part time at the Palo Alto VA hospital. On Veteran’s Day last year, she organized a luncheon for 21 women veterans at Applebee’s Restaurant. Helping the veterans, bringing them smiles, encouraging them to seek therapy, etc., is part of her healing process. While taking art therapy classes at Menlo Park VA she submitted a group art project for a veteran art event in Livermore, VA.
She is a life time member of Disabled American Veterans, a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). Cindy Dang is a positive figure of someone who has not only overcome PTSD, but also given herself in helping her fellow veterans, the VA hospital, the VA organization, and her community.
Midori Kai is a non-profit organization comprised of Japanese American professional women leaders with business and creative backgrounds. Founded in 1996, Midori Kai is committed to community involvement, supporting local non-profit organizations, mentoring youth, and celebrating Japanese American heritage.
Current President of the organization, Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, and its members actively participate in and generously give back to the local Asian communities, network and support one another in the business community, encourage, coach, and mentor youth, and celebrate Asian heritage and culture.
Midori Kai’s primary fundraising event is a boutique featuring over 70 vendors and over 1,100 attendees. Midori Kai donates the profits from the boutique to non-profit organizations. Midori Kai has also established an endowment to ensure its ongoing ability to contribute to specific local charities and community events throughout the year.
Viet-American Mental Health Network of Northern California
The Viet-American Mental Health Network of Northern California (Hội Chuyên Gia Tâm Trí Việt Mỹ Bắc California) was founded in 2000 by a small group of Vietnamese American Mental Health Professionals. Members include psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health care administrators, college or university professors, health care professionals, human services providers, marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, social workers, and students.
Members of the Network worked with other community-based organizations such as AARS, ICAN, Mekong, ACCI, etc. and assisted to organize programs and workshops at various community forums, such as Song Manh annual forum and the annual Family Today and Tomorrow Forum at Tully Library in San Jose.
The Network and its members have also conducted many radio talkshows on mental health issues, family relationships, generational gaps, etc., as well as discuss and provide cultural consultation on mental health issues and other issues on a monthly basis.
The Former Vietnam Armed Forces Alliance of Northern California
The Former Vietnam Armed Forces Alliance of Northern California (Liên Hội Cựu Quân Nhân VNCH Bắc California) was founded in 1984.
Goal and activities include:
- To regroup and unite all veterans of all branches of the former South Vietnam Military and Paramilitary in exile in Northern California.
- To provide assistance to fellow veterans and their families to adjust to the new life in the U.S. and become good citizens.
- To maintain and promote the spirit of patriotism, honor, and responsibility.
- To uphold and enhance brotherhood and comradery among fellow veterans and the community.
- To provide mentorship to younger generation through participation in community events and activities.
“After 37 years in exile, the members of The Former Vietnam Armed Forces Alliance of Northern California have overcome all hurdles to adjust and integrate themselves into day-to-day life in the free society of the United States of America. We are deeply grateful to the government and the people of the United States who have helped and embraced us as their own.” (Excerpt from a letter to AAWA.)