Congratulations to our 2014 Scholars!

We are thrilled to introduce our nine 2014 AEF Scholars!  Thanks to the generous contributions of supporters like you, our Advisory Council, CUNY, and the Indiegogo Community, these nine scholars will receive a total of $63,000 in college scholarships, which includes $30,000 raised through our Indiegogo Campaign.

We would like to thank our Selection Committee for reading over 340 applications, and interviewing 22 finalists before selecting 2% of our applicants as the 2014 AEF Scholars.

Our nine 2014 Scholars exemplify the diverse immigrant community in New York City and represent Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Mexico, South Korea, Tibet and Burma.  Take a moment to read each of their extraordinary stories.

We are in the process of matching our scholars with mentors.  If you would like to join our mentorship program, please contact us at 

A Tibetan refugee who immigrated from India three years ago and whose journey to the United States has been nothing short of remarkable.  At the again of six, his family embarked on a trek across the Himalayas to Nepal to escape his homeland of Tibet.  He was subsequently sent by his family to India, where he was educated by monks.  Reunited with his family, he is now an avid break dancer with a passion for robotics.  This Scholar’s good nature and endless optimism are palpable when you are in his presence.  This fall he will attend Binghamton University, majoring in Astrophysics.  This Indiegogo Community Scholarship recipient dreams of being part of a NASA mission.

A young man who immigrated from Bangladesh at the age of 4 and now lives in Brooklyn.  This Arthur Li Distinguished Rising Star Award recipient is headed to Cornell University and his long-term goal is to become the CEO of his own open-source software company.  He has endured extreme poverty and helps to care for his young nephew, doing homework late at night when his duties are done.  In his words, his dream is to be a “lifelong scholar.”

A young woman who immigrated from Ecuador and now lives in Inwood.  This Danaus Awesome Achievement Award recipient is in the top 2% of her graduating class. Inspired by her own scoliosis diagnosis and her mother’s stomach cancer, her long-term dream is to become a pediatrician.  She will major in Forensic Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice this fall. She is active in the community and led a campaign to raise funds and awareness for children in African who cannot afford shoes.  In her words, the struggles of an immigrant is what motivated her to keep moving forward.

A young man who immigrated from Mexico and is graduating from one of the top high schools in the nation.  He received a score of 3 and above on 5 AP exams.  This CUNY Excellence Award recipient will be attending Baruch College.  He promotes the values of hard work and perseverance to those around him through the Big Brother/Big sister program at his high school.  Through success in education and business, he hopes to promote social change and improve his community.  He believes it is the youth’s responsibility to change any negative stigmas associated with the immigrant community.

A young woman who immigrated from the Dominican Republic three years ago, leaving her mother and two siblings behind. Following tremendous hardship, she finally feels a sense of safety and calm in her fourth foster home, and is proud to say her struggles have not stopped her.  She actively gives back to the immigrant community by mentoring students to improve their basic literacy skills, and educates immigrants about their rights with Community Voices Heard.  She will attend Bard College this fall and plans to pursue a degree in a social science.

A South Korean young man whose family left everything behind to give him a chance of obtaining a better education.  His internship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center was cut short due to his status, but he did not give up and successfully campaigned with the director to re-instate his position.   His courage and resilience earned him admission to Harvard, where he will major in Biology.  This Arthur Li Distinguished Rising Star Award recipient plans to pursue a career in medicine and research.  In his own words, his status empowers him to work harder and to always lend a helping hand to those who are struggling.

A young woman whose parents immigrated from Mexico.  She is passionate about science and improving human health.  She has successfully maintained an A average while also working part-time in the evening cleaning medical facilities.  She has contributed 360 hours of community service during her high school career, highlighted by a trip to Mali in West Africa with buildOn. In addition, she spends significant hours conducting lab work and is proud to have earned Second Place in the Bronx Science and Engineering Fair at Lehman College.  She will attend Union College and plans to pursue biomedical engineering.

An Indian-Bengali young woman who dreams of becoming a chemical engineer to help identify a cure for cancer.  She took it upon herself to research mentors in cancer research and has worked under a Chemistry Professor at CUNY’s York College. A survivor of domestic violence, she strives to be independent in order to achieve her dreams and find her true purpose in life.  She holds several part-time jobs to contribute to her family’s finances.  She will be attending Penn State this fall.

A Burmese immigrant who moved to the US at the age of 8 and currently resides in Woodside with his family. He will be attending Princeton and studying Economics. He was a straight A high school student and achieved the highest possible score on every AP exam, despite struggling with English when he first moved to America. His interests and experiences are diverse. He enjoys extemporaneous speaking and competed with his school, while also founding his school’s Woodworking Club and Eco-Design Club. He is also a Set Design Director and manages crew members to build theater sets. In 2013, he had lunch with Michelle Obama for the National Design Awards. His dream is to continue to develop his leader skills and ultimately have an impact in developing the future of Burma.

Our initial goal for 2014 was to award $50,000, and instead, thanks to your support, we are awarding 97% more than we were able to award in 2013!

Thank you for all your contributions, including your time and financial commitments. Together, we are significantly improving these young person’s lives.  We look forward to changing many more lives in years to come.


Adrienne, Celeste, Diana, Erika, Julissa & Rob

AEF Board of Directors