2019 Scholars

We are thrilled to introduce our nine 2019 AEF Scholars!  Each of them embody the diverse immigrant community in New York City and represent Nigeria, Mexico, Bangladesh, Haiti, Senegal, Guyana, Suriname, and Russia. 

Thanks to your generous support, we were able to award $61,500 in college scholarship awards for 2019.  We would like to thank our Selection Committee for reading over 700 applications, and interviewing 25 finalists before selecting our 2019 AEF Scholars. 

About Our 2019 AEF Scholars

This scholar from Mexico cannot be defined by a simple description. Hailing from Chinese parents and fluent in English, Spanish, and Chinese, she is the bridge between multiple immigrant groups in her high school and is a vocal champion of inclusiveness and diversity. With her gregarious and energetic nature, one would never guess that she immigrated to the US only five years ago. In that time, this scholar has left her mark on her community by volunteering at the Neuroscience Lab at Hunter College, by improving the life of her peers while on student government, and leading as a member of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. On a recent visit to Washington D.C. for a conference on current political and social issues, she met several House of Representatives members. In the fall, this Rita Amin Educational Scholar will attend Georgetown University where she plans to major in Business.

This scholar from Bangladesh came to the US with his family seven years ago to seek asylum and pursue a better life. Since his arrival, he has found countless ways to uplift others through his personal talents and community service. He has used his photography to raise awareness and engineering skills to take action. As an avid photographer, he uses his lens to capture members of his community and empower them by taking pictures that help to break stereotypes. After experiencing severe back pain from constantly carrying his camera equipment, this scholar has used his engineering skills to create a prototype backpack with pressure controlled straps to help students better handle their daily load. Whether he decides to pursue the arts, engineering or both, this scholar will find his path at New York University.

A young woman from Nigeria who immigrated just two years ago with an infectious enthusiasm, this scholar demonstrates a strong commitment to engage her community and advocate for change. In order to improve her English-speaking and communication skills, she stepped out of her comfort zone and joined the Debate team, which taught her courage, to never underestimate yourself, or to over think situations. As a member of her school’s Climate Club, she traveled to the Catskills with young, positive-minded people to discuss ways to slow down the impact of climate change, and she educates her peers at school on recycling and other solutions. She does not like to procrastinate and is always early to start her assignments, even with a two hour daily commute to her high school. This Isela Carlos Achievement Scholar will attend the Borough of Manhattan Community College and plans to become a nurse.

Born in Senegal and raised through experiences in Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, this scholar made his biggest and most difficult transition to America just two years ago. With only the support of an older brother, he has excelled both in and out of school. This scholar’s dedication to serving others led him to an internship with Columbia University, enabling him to support his community by translating English to French and Mooré. He also earned entry into the prestigious Cooper Union STEM to STEAM Summer program and the Design Initiative for Community Empowerment Program at Pratt Institute. Through these experiences, he fell in love with engineering and architecture and plans to attend Guttman Community College in the fall and transfer to a top architecture program at a 4-year college.

This scholar, whose parents hail from Guyana and Suriname, has clear designs on effecting systemic change at a national and international level for immigration reform. When she is not planning her path towards law, you can find this scholar displaying her talents in both the arts and sciences. In 2018 she placed 2nd in NYC and 8th in NY State in the Science Olympiad. She is equally at home in the theater, where she served as the overall director of a 200-member, 100% student-run production of the musical S!NG. Her role ranged from writing the entire script to casting and overseeing the success of the production, which she handled with aplomb. Her leadership and energy will serve this Dr. Sampat & Dr. Udaya Shivangi Scholar well as she heads to Harvard University in the fall where she plans to major in Government.

This scholar who immigrated from Mexico at the age of five has never let his immigration status define him. He is known around his school as the college process guru and openly shares any resources and tips with his classmates. He wasn’t allowed to compete with his crew team as he did not know how to swim- a fear he’d had for many years. He faced it head on and competed in his first meet this year. While he is a leader in student council and the Gay-Straight Alliance, he also works two jobs as a busboy and maintenance worker. His hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed by his teachers and peers. As a young man from the Bronx with DACA, he wants to inspire others to pursue their dreams. This Dos Rayas Perseverance Scholar will attend Middlebury College where he plans to major in Engineering.

This scholar whose mother fled the former USSR due to religious persecution possesses a desire to elevate the community around him and a dedication to better the academic pursuits of his peers. Quick to notice the inequities in the SHSAT testing process in New York City, this scholar founded a tutoring program to teach test-taking skills to low-income minority and immigrant students in his Coney Island neighborhood. A nationally ranked ballroom dancer, he has competed for over 12 years and recently finished 2nd in the nation in his respective dance category. When not tutoring his peers or helping his mother at home with his younger brother, this scholar has interned at Mount Sinai where he discovered his passion to improve aid and healthcare for underrepresented individuals. This Ping Chu Benevolence Scholar plans on studying Public Health and Biology at Dartmouth College.

A young woman whose parents emigrated from Mexico and who is passionate about music and singing, this scholar persevered through English as a Second Language classes and a learning disability that resulted in self-contained classes with 15 students per class. Through music, she has been able to open up, express herself in writing, and has gained confidence with higher self-esteem and an audition for America’s Got Talent, which has also supported her transition into general education classes with her peers. She volunteers at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx as part of a Christmas program for cancer patients, and works as a retail associate at T.J. Maxx. This Arthur Li Chasing Excellence Scholar plans to inspire other children by becoming a music teacher and will attend Guttman Community College.

This young man from Haiti is as sharp and focused on his future as he is caring about those around him. He moved to New York two years ago without his only parental support, his father, in order to fulfill his academic potential. In Haiti, he was elected class president in 9th grade and took it upon himself to organize student-led study groups before every midterm to help his classmates bring up their grades. He continues to assist students by tutoring peers in four subjects as they prepare for the rigorous Regents exams. When he is not focusing on others, this scholar gained entry into the prestigious Rockefeller University Summer Neuroscience Program where he fell in love with neuroscience, which he plans to pursue when he enrolls at St. Francis College this fall.

Thank you for all of your contributions, including your time and financial commitments. Together, we are elevating our community through higher education and significantly improving these young persons’ lives. 


Celeste, Dan, Diana, Erika, Julissa, Nii Ato, & Rob
AEF Board of Directors