April 27, 2018: Article in the Mercer Island Reporter about 2018 Recipients and Award Ceremony 

From left, Gabriela Jimenez, Sophie Poole, Arwa Mokdad and Michelle King each received $5,000 college scholarships from the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund. Photo courtesy of Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship FundFrom left, Gabriela Jimenez, Sophie Poole, Arwa Mokdad and Michelle King each received $5,000 college scholarships from the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund. Photo courtesy of Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund

Mercer Island, Rainier Beach students receive Stanley Ann Dunham scholarships

The scholarship is named for former President Barack Obama’s mother, who graduated from MIHS in 1960.

Each year, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund awards $5,000 college scholarships to graduating senior women at Mercer Island High School and Rainier Beach High School who demonstrate that they share Dunham’s values of education and service through their strong academic records and impactful service in the community.

This year the fund awarded four scholarships: two to MIHS seniors Arwa Mokdad and Sophie Poole, and to RBHS seniors Gabriela Jimenez and Michelle King. The other four finalists from MIHS were Sarah Crumrine, Zoe Sheill, Ella Warburg and Julia Graham.

During the ceremony, the scholars and finalists performed a spoken word poem they created in a workshop with Grammy-nominated artist and guest speaker Hollis Wong-Wear.

Another highlight of this year’s program was the reading of a letter from former President Barack Obama (Dunham’s son) congratulating the scholars and thanking the fund and its supporters for their “continued dedication to our shared mission of lifting up the next generation of thinkers, dreamers, and doers…my mother would be very proud to know her legacy lives on in the incredible work of these young women.”

In a press release, the fund thanks Mercer Island sponsors Cascade Frames, Island Books, Mercer Island Eyeworks, Mercer Island Florist, the Northend QFC, Sugar Mountain – Beecher’s Cheese, US Bank and the Office of Carrie York, DDS, and congratulates its 2018 scholars as they continue on their path as empowered women leaders and active world citizens.

July 17, 2017: Article in the South Seattle Emerald about the 2017 Award Ceremony, which also appeared in the The Mercer Island Reporter

Scholarship Honoring Obama’s Mother Recognizes Rainier Beach and Mercer Island Grads

by Clare Meeker

On May 20, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund held its 8th annual awards ceremony at the Northwest African American Museum.

For the first time in its history, the Fund awarded a scholarship to a Rainier Beach High student.

Rainier Beach High graduating senior Emily Au, along with Mercer Island High graduating senior Christine Lee, received $5000 scholarships from the fund.

It also recognized eight other scholarship finalists – Rainier Beach High School seniors Celine Nguyen Le, Scarlet Quynh Nguyen, So Nanthavongsa, and Nirae Petty, and Mercer Island High School seniors Rory Murphy, Claire Stein, Sidney Montague, and Katerina Tiscornia.

Each of these women were honored for their leadership, love of learning, and passion for public service, values they share with Dunham – who was also President Barack Obama’s mother and a 1960 Mercer Island High graduate.

Emily Au was born in Seattle. Her parents immigrated from Vietnam and Cambodia after the Vietnam War. An accomplished artist, International Baccalaureate student, and athlete, Emily’s community activism began after finding herself ineligible for a free Orca card Seattle Public Schools provided to students commuting a significant distance to and from school.

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2017 Scholars: Rainier Beach School Senior Emily Au (on left) and Mercer Island High School Senior Christine Lee. [Photo: Clare Meeker]

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)

 January 11, 2017: Article in Mercer Island Reporter about the additional scholarship given to a Rainier Beach High School senior

The application period for Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship is now open to college-bound senior women at Mercer Island High School. The fund awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior woman who demonstrates a commitment to education and public service.

The scholarship is in honor of Stanley Ann Dunham, a 1960 graduate of MIHS who dedicated her life to working with marginalized communities around the world, especially women. She was also President Barack Obama’s mother. Dunham took her first anthropology course at the University of Washington and went on to earn her PhD in anthropology from the University of Hawaii.

“The Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship is helping me become educated to help create a better tomorrow,” said 2016 recipient Rose Guttman, a freshman at the University of Washington.

After awarding 13 scholarships to senior women at Mercer Island High School in the seven years of its existence, the fund will award an additional scholarship to a female senior student at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. The new scholarship, sponsored by an anonymous donor, fits perfectly into a structured program at Rainier Beach High School that helps seniors pursue higher education. This program, the Point of Destination Secured — known as POD — places a “pod” of five to seven seniors under the mentorship of a college student at the University of Washington’s Dream Project.

The mentors keep seniors accountable for applying to at least three colleges and for at least three scholarships. This year, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship can be one of those scholarships.

Principal Keith Smith, Senior PODS Coordinator Virginia Patu and Head Counselor Dan Jurdy oversee PODS and develop close relationships with each student. These relationships have made an impact.

“PODS has been one of the main causes for the recent rise in graduation rates at Rainier Beach High School,” said Dwane Chappelle, director of education and early learning, city of Seattle and former principal of Rainier Beach High.

In 2011, 53 percent of the senior class graduated; by 2016 that number jumped to 81.5 percent.

“PODS is a program steeped in the same values that Stanley Ann Dunham championed,” said Board Member Julie Biggs. “We are thrilled to be involved.”

Naomi Moore, a 2015 scholarship recipient and a sophomore at Seattle Central Community College, described how the scholarship impacts high school seniors: “receiving a scholarship in honor of Stanley Ann Dunham is the sort of recognition that motivates students to remain committed to making an impactful difference in our own lives and those of others.”

May 21st, 2016: KOMO TV news in Seattle covered our scholarship ceremony. To view it, follow this link.http://www.mi-reporter.com/life/four-mercer-island-students-receive-stanley-ann-dunham-scholarships/