2020 Scholars

We are thrilled to introduce our nine 2020 AEF Scholars!  Each of them embody the diverse immigrant community in New York City and represent Haiti, Mexico, Egypt, Mali, Guatemala, Grenada, and China. 

Thanks to your generous support and even in challenging times, we were able to award $63,000 in college scholarship awards for 2020.  We would like to thank our Selection Committee for reading over 600 applications, and interviewing 16 finalists before selecting our 2020 AEF Scholars. 

About Our 2020 AEF Scholars

This scholar from Grenada is passionate about helping people safeguard their data and personal information as an aspiring cybersecurity expert. Security, however, has not always been a stable feature of this scholar’s journey. His family was forced to immigrate to America following Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and once resettled, he faced numerous family and personal challenges. Nevertheless, he persisted. Through determination and a positive spirit, he discovered and developed a love for coding and for playing the trombone, both of which he actively uses to give back to his community. As a musician, he plays for both his high school’s concert and marching bands, and he sings in his church’s choir where he also participates in the youth and homeless ministries. To grow his technical skills, he volunteers at the innovative Brooklyn STEAM Center, providing IT support to students and professionals in the Brooklyn Navy Yard complex. This Jaidan and Dilan Educational Scholar will attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice to pursue a degree in computer science. 

This scholar from Guatemala is described as a quiet yet powerful leader who is an advocate for indigenous and immigrant youth communities. With Coro New York City Leadership Center, she participated in a youth leadership program and earned an internship with an NYC council member’s office representing District 38 in Brooklyn. Her dedication and outreach resulted in increased voter turnout and community advocacy. At school, she volunteers with an organization that provides a safe space for students to speak out and implement strategies to help the LGBTQ community, and another organization that devises ways to teach about immigrant rights and policies. She is also active in teaching her peers the history of languages in Guatemala and translated her native Ki’che for an individual seeking asylum with assistance from the Brooklyn Defenders Service. This Castaneda Family Scholar will attend St. Joseph’s College with a goal to ultimately pursue immigration law.

This exceptional student and recent transplant from Mali is inspired to show her mom and her traditional family that women are as capable as men. She finds joy in helping students new to this country navigate school, which inspired her to establish a Multicultural Club, and she is also a mentor for her five sisters. This scholar worked hard to be the first in her family to go to college and is inspired to become a pharmacist due to the lack of access to necessary drugs in her country. Her goal after graduating with a degree in Pharmaceutical Science is to open her own pharmacy for those in need and previously could not afford prescription medication. This Amin Educational Scholar plans to attend York College this fall.

This first generation scholar from Mexico will talk your ear off about astronomy and soccer. She’s played varsity soccer since her freshman year and was captain of her team both junior and senior years, in addition to the multitude of other clubs and activities in which she participated and led. In addition to spending each weekend with additional study as an SEO Scholar, she was a member of the Honor Roll and was a National Honor Society Senator and still found time to compete and earn 2nd place in a Posse scholarship competition, participate in Model UN, and babysit. SEO also propelled her to attend a pre-baccalaureate program at Brown over the summer to take philosophy and calculus classes and meet new people. This Isabella Lucia Educational Scholar will attend Stony Brook University and likely focus on an area in STEM.

This scholar from China found his way to New York City via an initial stop in Texas where he unfortunately encountered the hardship and discrimination that many immigrants face due to being different from the surrounding community. Ever the optimist, he used his experiences to shape his desire to bring about change with respect to how people globally view those from other nationalities and cultures. An active member of the student body at Stuyvesant High School through dance teams and mentorship programs, this scholar developed a passion for business and economics as he saw how they function across cultures and nations on a daily basis. This scholar will attend the University of Southern California‘s highly selective World Bachelor in Business program, where he will spend time in Hong Kong and Milan as he continues to use business as a means to break down barriers and pursue his dream of becoming a global citizen.  

This Mexican American scholar is passionate about social justice and immigration rights. She led a team to secure a $30,000 grant for her community’s food pantry after she noticed the scarcity of resources. She has also presented in front of Senator Chuck Schumer to advocate for immigrants. Her parents are from Mexico, and this scholar draws her strong work ethic and motivation from them. Her teachers called her a “kind, caring, and almost gentle soul.” She held an internship throughout her four years of high school at a designer fashion store where she learned that Latinas “can make it” in any industry. This The Founders Scholar is headed to Pomona College in the fall.

This scholar from Haiti lived with his aunt in poverty while his mother immigrated to New York City, until the tragic earthquake enabled his parole status to reunite with his mother. In addition to being top ten in his class, he is dedicated to his church community and has served as an usher and ultimately a worship conductor, which has changed his outlook on life by inspiring a mind of faith and optimism and has also taught him skills he did not think capable of such as public speaking. He is also active in his school community as a tutor and mentor to middle school students, completed a NASA research internship with CUNY, and will also receive an Associates degree as a Smart Scholar at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College. This The C&S Scholar will pursue engineering at The Cooper Union this fall. 

This scholar emigrated from Mexico and has been living in New York City for the past two years with his older brother.  He provides for himself by working at least 20 hours per week after school. He is so passionate about the Italian culture and history that he taught himself how to speak Italian and in total speaks six languages. He holds a strong work ethic, which shows as he was able to pass six Regents exams within a year of arriving in New York City, while learning English at the same time. While his parents remain in Mexico, he draws his perseverance and fire to succeed from them. This scholar will attend Lehman College and may focus on physics and philosophy.

This Cairo-born, Egyptian immigrant’s positive attitude and energy is infectious. He overcame selective mutism to find his voice through activism, where he built a strong community to speak about issues he is passionate about. It is this community that he helped build that he is most proud of. His love of musical theater and involvement in the arts have enabled him to express himself through acting and singing. The combination of his love of working with children and musical theater led him to aspire to be a pediatric surgeon – utilizing music to help kids find ease during a stressful time. This scholar will attend Pomona 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