2017 Scholars: Rainier Beach School Senior Emily Au and Mercer Island High School Senior Christine Lee

Aug 22, 2017

In order to qualify for a free Orca card students had to live at least 2.5 miles from their school. Emily lived two miles away.After three years of courage, persistence, and persuasive tactics including organizing town hall meetings and inviting the Seattle Mayor and City Councilmembers to walk the two mile route she traveled every day by foot, Emily and her fellow students eventually got the Seattle School District to extend free Orca cards to all students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in the district.

In her essay connecting her life with Dr. Dunham, Emily said, “The idea of social activism and fighting for equity reflects Stanley Ann’s life work. Her beliefs and values continue to spread through the minds of active empowered young women like myself.” Emily will be attending the University of Washington this fall.

Christine Lee was born in Hawaii and is the daughter and granddaughter of Chinese immigrants from Indonesia, the same place where Stanley Ann Dunham began her pioneering anthropological work in development and microfinance.

In addition to being a top student, Christine helped establish a Reach Out and Read program at the Valley Pediatric Clinic in Renton providing over 10,000 free books to pre-school age children from underserved families in South King County. She also started a baking business to help support and promote awareness of the local soup kitchen Teen Feed.

In her words, “Every act of service I complete helps me appreciate how much I have and has helped me become a more empathic and compassionate person.“ Christine will be attending the University of Washington in the fall and would like to major in public health while focusing on the education and nutrition of children in impoverished countries.

Guest speakers included immigration lawyer Tahmina Watson, Legal Voice Executive Director Lisa Stone, and Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver.

Event sponsors included Homegrown, Island Books, Cascade Frames, Mercer Island Florist, the Law Offices of William D. Hochberg, and the Wright Education Fund.

Featured image by Clare Meeker: 2017 Finalists (from left): Katerina Tiscornia (MIHS), Claire Stein (MIHS), Emily Au (RBHS), Christine Lee (MIHS), Celine Nguyen Le (RBHS), So Nanthavongsa (RBHS), Nirae Petty (RBHS), and Sidney Montague (MIHS)