Two Filipino American students in Southern Nevada are among this year's recipients of APIA scholarships from a fast food giant.
55 recipients across the country were awarded $500,000 in scholarships. 67% of them are students from families in dire financial need, with many having inspiring personal stories of overcoming hardship, and planning to use their education for the greater good.
One of them is Daisy P., a 19-year-old Fil-Am student from Las Vegas. She was formerly homeless and a survivor of domestic violence. The help she received during her time of need inspired Daisy who is now taking care of others by pursuing a career in nursing.
Another Fil-Am recipient is John Gabriel Espinas Flora, who is majoring in public health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"When I was younger, we weren't in a stable financial situation. So from there, I knew I wanted to get out of the small island that I lived in my whole life. So I started working when I was able to when I was 16. From there, I took all the money so I could move to the States," Flora shares.
Flora started college in August of 2020. He says it's not easy being alone, juggling his studies and work. Flora's family is still living in the Mariana's island of Saipan. His mom is working as a beautician, while his dad is a security guard. Flora asserts that the scholarship fund is a big sigh of relief for students like him who struggle with finances.
"The McDonald's scholarship was really helpful because it actually helped me not pay anything for this whole year... I was accepted and I received $5,000 for a year which I'm very grateful for. I was able to relieve my family off the financial stress that they were in, in helping to pay for my college. It also helps me because for the most part, I pay mostly for my college tuition, my funds and other external stuff."
According to Pew Research, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are the most economically divided ethnic group in the US, with the top 10% earning nearly 11 times more than those in the bottom 10%. Pew Research also found that income inequality is rising most rapidly within the APIA community.
"With communities of color, there's a lot of barriers, and we recognize this. It's so important to help our future leaders and students to get moving forward," McDonald's owner/operator William Cho says.
This year's class of APIA scholars are both ethnically and geographically diverse. 94% of the recipients are first generation immigrants and 56% will be the first in their family to attend college.
Application for the 2022-2023 APIA scholarship is now open. For more information, you can visit APANext.com.