Meet Our 2016 ATG Scholarship Winners!


The ATG Scholarship Committee is proud to announce the 2016 Scholarship Winners. Scored based on strength of GPA, leadership/community involvement, portfolio/video submission, essays, letters of recommendation and a final phone interview, we chose nine students who are brilliant, shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain. We are truly proud of this exceptional group and all that we know they will accomplish for their vocation and for the Asian American community in the future. Special thanks to Ambassador Gauthami Vemula for providing the additional Power of Me Scholarship.

Check out the winners’ thank you videos on YouTube.

And the winners are:

ATG Artistic Scholarship

  • Angeline Young
  • Michelle Kim
  • Kiana Ziegler
  • Tan Vu

Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

  • Nicci Kelly
  • Ben Chu
  • Ishan Sharma
  • Kristina Nguyen

#LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship

  • Hsin-Roe Pan


angeline-youngAngeline Young | 35 years old | GPA: 4.0 | MFA Dance | Arizona State University
Intended School and Major: PhD Performance Studies/Rhetoric | UC Berkeley or Arizona State University
Ethnicity: Chinese American

“When I was little, I used to walk up staircases that were clearly labeled with directions for people to walk down. This was a simple task if I was alone on the staircase, but if I was walking against the momentum of a crowd, you can imagine that things got a little trickier. So if you think about it, it is much easier to go with the crowd and follow directions. We do not usually stop to consider why we follow the pack nor do we consider the impact of doing what we are told simply because it is expected of us. Back then, I climbed ‘Against The Grain’ because I wanted to disrupt the order of things. Now as a performance artist, artistic director of an Asian American dance coalition and an emerging scholar, I realize that I have my own reasons for ‘going Against The Grain,’ along with a sense of responsibility for the choices that I make as I propel myself against the momentum of the masses.” 



Jihyun (Michelle) Kim | 18 years old | GPA: 97.5 | NYU Steinhardt; Childhood Education and Childhood Special Education | South Korean

“There are more atoms in a single grain of sand than grains of sand on earth. When grains are compiled together, they become such a strong force that people cannot easily penetrate. When you know the struggles and obstacles you are about to face, yet continue to strive and follow your dream, you become the compelling impact that can push through incoming tides and come against the crashing waves or, in this case, ‘Against The Grain.'”


Kiana Ziegler | 19 years old | GPA: 3.8 | Ashland University; BFA Fine Arts – Visual w/ concentration in Digital Fine Art and Drawing (intended) | Filipino/White

“‘Going Against The Grain’ is to be the storyteller rather than the listener. The listener hears many stories throughout their life, develops their own story but doesn’t tell it. Their priorities are in another place, or perhaps they’re afraid of any consequences if they speak. But storytellers not only tell their own narratives but also tell the narratives of other people. They are a voice for the voiceless, not only to bring attention to a single voice in a world filled with billions of others but also to teach, learn, and heal, despite any negative criticisms they may receive.”

tan-vuTan Vu | 19 years old | GPA: 3.9 | University of California, Berkeley; Business Administration and Media Studies (intended) | Vietnamese

“To go ‘Against The Grain’ means believing in your ability to do whatever you desire. It means to be who you are – the geek, the nerd, the weirdo – no matter what the societal norm is. It means that no matter how hard the path is to fulfill your dream, you will be able to put 110 percent of your heart and soul into it because it is the only thing you ever wanted to do.”

Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship Winners

nicci-kelly16Nicci Kelly | 28 years old | GPA: 4.0 | Emory University, Candler School of Theology; Master’s of Divinity (intended) | African American/South Korean

“I believe when a person ‘goes Against The Grain,’ they have the courage to be authentic and unapologetically themselves. The trends of our culture always flow in the direction of who is famous at the time, what we see on social media, and what we hear from the news, good or bad. It’s easy to get caught in that heavy undercurrent and get lost in who we are and what our purpose in life should be. However, someone who ‘goes Against The Grain’ is not afraid to go against the current of popular culture and stand on what they believe and who they are, whether in values, business, leadership, or family. We are all uniquely different and no two people on earth are the same. We should embrace who we are, showcase our talents, and walk in our own purpose. The greatest gift we can give back to this world is the real us.”

ben-chuBen Chu | 18 years old | GPA: 4.27 | UC Berkeley; Economics | Chinese

“‘Going Against The Grain’ is not a task that is easily accomplished. No matter the difficulty and no matter the challenge, we have to illuminate our own paths, which requires endless commitment to a higher standard of individualism, selflessness, and leadership. While many can choose to live inside of their comfort zones, the ones that create their own stories and lead others to leave their fears behind light the path towards becoming an original innovator. Those that write their own chapters in life, take independent action, and set an unwavering example regardless of fear fight for deserving the title of ‘going Against The Grain.’ Although I may be an ethnic minority in my town, I push all my friends and community members to benefit the world around us.”

ishan-sharmaIshan Sharma | 18 years old | GPA: 4.2 (weighted) | University of California, Berkeley; Economics (intended) | Indian

“‘Going Against The Grain’ is doing things others wouldn’t. It’s a phrase about leadership. ‘Going Against The Grain’ entails reaching for a goal greater than yourself—and that means putting in hard work. Indeed, contrarians know they’re ‘Against The Grain’ because swimming against the current is hard. But they’re not frazzled. Despite the shortcomings and lack of precedent, an unknown journey and few to join them along that journey, leaders ‘go Against The Grain’ because they see a vision. They see change, and they want to be the ones who enact that change. Obstacles, hurdles, and even the chance of failure is all surmounted by that same will that started them on the uphill journey in the first place.”

kristina-nguyenKristina Nguyen | 18 years old | GPA: 4.4 (weighted) | University of Kansas; Biology/Pre-Dentistry | Vietnamese, Chinese

“To me, ‘going Against The Grain’ means branching out and trying something new. It means going against the norm and being creative in your thoughts and actions. It means stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself in ways you never thought possible. It means, despite all that might stand in your way, overcoming obstacles to accomplish your biggest hopes and dreams.”


#LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship Winner

hsin-roe-panHsin-Roe Pan | 18 years old | GPA: 3.92 (weighted) | Parsons School of Design; Fashion Design | Taiwanese

“To me, ‘Going Against The Grain’ is doing the unexpected. It is forcing your way out of the box that society has decided to confine you within. That box can be related to race, age, gender, appearance, or anything that defines your cultural identity but not your physical and mental capacities. ‘Going Against The Grain’ can be anything from making a breakthrough in a field that is less populated by the people of the same cultural appropriation as you to presenting your new things and ideas for the benefit of the world. I believe that anyone has the power to ‘go Against The Grain’ – all they need to do is think outside the box.”

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