Local students earn scholarships

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The Sid Goldstein Freedom Park and War Memorial, 14180 All American Way in Westminster, was the site of the 2014 Fallen Heroes Scholarship presentation Saturday morning.

The event was led by Garden Grove Councilman Christopher Phan, with the United States Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem and the former Republic of Vietnam anthem being played and sang, followed by a moment of silence.

"On behalf of the Vietnamese-American Armed Forces Association board, I want to say, 'Congratulations' for your fine work," Phan said to those gathered.

The Sid Goldstein Freedom Park and War Memorial, 14180 All American Way in Westminster, was the site of the 2014 Fallen Heroes Scholarship presentation Saturday morning.

The event was led by Garden Grove Councilman Christopher Phan, with the United States Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem and the former Republic of Vietnam anthem being played and sang, followed by a moment of silence.

"On behalf of the Vietnamese-American Armed Forces Association board, I want to say, 'Congratulations' for your fine work," Phan said to those gathered.

The scholarship recipients were asked to remember the Vietnamese-American Armed Forces service members who gave their all to defend freedom and democracy and were encouraged to promote the recognition and memory of the fallen heroes in their communities.

Recipients are selected not only for their GPAs, but for their community service.

One of the questions they were asked in applying for the $1,000 scholarship was,  “What does it mean to be a Vietnamese-American and how does that influence your perspective as an American in this country?”

They were chosen on their leadership and public service potential and their attention to detail, along with being VAAFA ambassadors.

The VAAFA Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund was  established in remembrance of fighters of Vietnamese descent who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom and democracy.

"The fund is intended to honor their service and selfless devotion to duty to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The goal is to support the scholarship recipients financially in their college studies while they actively promote the recognition and acknowledgement of the fallen heroes within their community."

The four young ladies honored with the scholarships were Katrina Nguyen, of Garden Grove, who graduated from Pacifica High School with a GPA of 3.88. She won the President's Award for Academic Excellence, Principal's Honor Roll from 9th to 12th Grade and will attend UCI where she plans to major in Business Administration.

Joan Vu, of Westminster, graduated from Marina High School in Huntington Beach with a GPA of 4.02. She earned the President's Scholar Magna Cum Laude indwell attend UC Davis, majoring in Environmental Toxicology.

Diana Ho, of Westminster, graduated from Westminster High School with a GPA of 4.44. She is a recipient of the First Team All League Award, Varsity Tennis Player and will attend UCI, with a planned major in Public Health.

Thao-Ann Nguyen,  of Irvine, graduated from Northwood High School with a GPA of 3.72 and is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient who will attend UCLA to major in Biology.

Phan explained that the goal of the scholarship is to support outstanding Vietnamese-American students financially in their pursuit of college studies while actively promoting the recognition and acknowledgement of the 12 Vietnamese-American Fallen Heroes who gave their lives in support of freedom for American in its wars.

"And, we want to remember the 58,000 service members who gave up their lives for us – before we even got here, Phan said, referring to the Vietnam War. "Make sure you remind others of those who came before you."

Each of the students had an opportunity to address those in attendance.

Joan Vu thanked the VAAFA for providing her with, "An amazing opportunity. I'm very humbled to be accepting an award from an organization that prides itself on creating awareness of the sacrifices the Vietnamese-American community has made as well as creating an opportunity for the Vietnamese American youth to pursue higher education."

"It's also important for us to understand that sacrifices were made in order for us to be standing here today," added Vu.

Thao-Ann Nguyen said, "This award strikes a deep chord within me because it reminds me how generous the older generation of this community is and I would like to thank the VAAFA for investing in the education of the Vietnamese-American youth. It never escapes me for a moment how the courage and sacrifices of the previous generation have paved the way to provide so many opportunities for our community in this country. I accept the award with pride in my heritage and a resolution to further my education that I may one day give back to the Vietnamese- American community."

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