2021 Scholarship Awardees


Applicants for the ACUW Scholarship are asked to submit personal statements and letters of recommendation. Here is a synopsis of each awardee’s submission. As you can see, the scholarships are well-deserved.

Calista Agmata, Punahou School

Having a deep curiosity for the country, society and history of China, Calista received a Luke Center for Chinese Studies Award. An amazing young woman with personal maturity, positive personality traits and academic potential, she sets high standards for herself both in her personal conduct and academic commitment. An active, engaged student with impeccable character, she possesses a superior work ethic and social conscience. The most diligent student in the Mandarin Chinese Honors class, she often chooses more difficult projects and demonstrates excitement in learning new, needed skills. She is self-motivated, tenacious, inquisitive, humble and collaborative. An enthusiastic and focused learner who strives for excellence, she maintains a can-do mindset. She plans to major in Computer Science and minor in Chinese, and wants to improve life for impoverished communities locally and world-wide.

Cora Lau, Kalani High School

Raised in a Chinese household, she enjoys learning traditions like not biting into any noodles on Chinese New Year, how to make gau or toong mai, and the importance of her grandfather doing tai chi every morning. A well-rounded, intelligent student, she is passionate and enthusiastic about learning material, not just getting the A. Diligent, mature and captivating, she is an outstanding and enthusiastic leader who stands out in demonstrating genuine care and concern for all of her peers. As student body vice president, she is on the Hawaii State Council for Kalani High School. She started as an ambassador for the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders, became a Fellow and is now an Intern. Awarded a grant from the Department of Education and demonstrating creativity, she produced videos on career fields and pathways. She was on the track team, and played in the Concert Band, Marching Band, Concert Orchestra, Hawaii Symphonic Band and Hawaii Youth Symphony. Leading one of the biggest volunteer clubs on campus with confidence, she is the president of two community service clubs one of which has made a huge difference with students with special needs.

Ying Qi Li, Roosevelt High School

A first-generation immigrant moving to United States at the age of five, Ying Qi grew up having been taught the importance of family and togetherness with the celebration of Chinese New Year. While much of her life has been Americanized, the Chinese culture is a piece of her identity she will never overlook. An exemplary, intelligent, diligent, reliable, and caring student with a winning attitude, she is extremely conscientious and values educational opportunities. One of the valedictorians and an Early College student with an outstanding commitment to academic excellence, she gives 200% effort to her classwork, exams, and projects. A soft-spoken leader, she is able to communicate effectively and assists her peers to achieve their goals. An extraordinary musician, she is a member of the marching band and the symphonic band, the LEO Club and National Honor Society. As a volunteer for the Central Union Church Adult Day Care, she was responsible, always on time and ready with a smile as she helped the kupuna. With a goal to become a physician’s assistant, she wants to give back to the community by providing comprehensive and high-quality health care for the underserved communities in Hawaii, especially the elderly population and socio-economically disadvantaged.

James Sewake, Pearl City High School

Half Chinese, James appreciates the preservation of beliefs and traditions over centuries including Chinese New Year with lion dances accompanied with drums to scare away evil spirits, not washing his hair to avoid washing away good luck, and snacking on good luck candies. An intelligent, dedicated, incredibly hard- working student with a positive attitude, he studies ferociously and loves to get involved in a wide variety of topics, and knows exactly how to manage his time. With a passion for STEM growing in middle school and flourishing in high school, he was instrumental in leading Pearl City High School’s Science Olympiad team to the state championship four times. A genuine and kind-hearted person striving to lift people up, he is an amazing teammate who is always encouraging and positive, pushing his peers to be the best they can be. He consistently takes first or second in any event he takes part in and won numerous awards in Science and Engineering. A great student in honors chemistry class, he was interested in understanding chemistry concepts as best as he could and his grade was never a concern. He can learn and master almost any topic, and seems to especially enjoy a challenge. These days it is rare to find a student who thinks math is cool and does problems for fun, seeing math problems at a deeper level and finding unique ways to solve a problem. He looked forward to American Mathematics Competition and was the high scorer who raised the school’s ranking.

Rafunzele Yap, Radford High School

Despite multiple family challenges including financial stress and 4 hours of sleep in a crowded home, she received the Principal’s List Award, 2017-2021, and was a Valedictorian, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Enrolling in 3 Advanced Placement (AP) courses as a junior, she received an AP Scholar award. Academically focused and consistently striving for excellence in her studies, she has incredible organizational skills, a sense of responsibility and a pursuit of excellence that allows her to complete any task with a high degree of quality and effort. A pinnacle of diligence and attention to detail, she has the vision and commitment to excellence that very few students have. A member of the National Honor Society and business secretary, she led a committee focused on educating and supporting members, the Radford student body, and larger community to manage their health and wellness during the pandemic. A consummate professional and excellent communicator, both verbally and in writing, she undoubtedly exemplifies the highest standards of diligence, altruism, and community. She was vice-president of the Korean Culture Club and participated in feeding the homeless with Saint Philomena Church. She plans to double major in Biology and East Asian Languages and Literature and minor in East Asian Culture in hopes of becoming a multilingual doctor in order to better communicate with immigrants. Experiencing first-hand as a child her immigrant parents’ inability to speak proper English that created difficulties with health care workers and doctors, she would like to become a doctor who will work to obtain a higher understanding of the differences in cultures in order to provide the best care possible.

Eileen Chen, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UHM

Eileen’s paternal family is from Sichuan, China and her maternal family is from Taiwan. She attended Chinese school and took AP Chinese earning the highest score. Participating in a Chinese Calligraphy competition, she received a second place award. Guided by her Aunt’s memories of her grandmother’s jar, she created a traditional Sichuan vegetable pickling jar.

Her extracurricular activities include Vice President of

Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association,

President of Women’s Interest Group, President and Music

Coordinator for JABSOM Artists and Musicians, and Vice

President of the Holistic Health Interest Group that provides space for students to explore holistic health methods including traditional Chinese medicine. Very familiar with how important it is for families to be able to receive care in the language they understand best, she wants to provide help for the Chinese community in Hawaii, hoping to contribute to a pool of health care providers whose patients feel comfortable and safe. Possessing inquisitive ideas and motivation, she is a very eager learner with a keen interest in learning and observing. Her initiative, diligent work ethic and attention to detail enables her to complete very challenging research projects usually given to a medicine resident. Consistently presenting a professional and pleasant demeanor, she possesses qualities admired in fellow physicians including compassion, confidence, knowledge and kindness.