Each year sponsors and golfers come together at the annual Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Charity Golf Tournament to benefit Highline Public Schools. On the 19th anniversary of the event, the STIA Golf Tournament has raised almost $1.4 million to support the students of the Highline Public Schools. Proceeds from the event allow the Highline Schools Foundation to provide programs and substantial college scholarships to bright, capable, and hard-working students who would never be able to attend college without financial help.
The event is presented by SSP America and planned by volunteer employees of the Port of Seattle, HMS Host, and the Hudson Group. Here are the stories of this year’s three scholarship winners.
Rahel was 11, living in her home country of Eritrea, when she first met Mrs. Betsy. Her middle school teacher took her in after her family had to leave Eritrea for the United States in search of health care for her sister. Mrs. Betsy was Rahel’s role model. She supported Rachel and instilled in her the belief that she could pursue an education. When Mrs. Betsy passed away from a heart attack, Rahel was devastated.
She couldn’t sleep at night, feeling hopeless, alone, and confused. Long after she joined her family in the United States, Mrs. Betsey’s words stuck with her and the experience motivated her to pursue a career in medicine with a specialization in cardiology.
Rahel, a Tyee High School graduate, was awarded a $20,000 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Scholarship and will attend Seattle University in the fall to study Molecular and Cellular Biology.
As a doctor, Rahel hopes to provide affordable healthcare to those who need it.
“I want to contribute to underserved populations in the U.S. that struggle every day to sustain a family, and make healthcare a right, not a privilege. I plan to establish a free clinic where affordable medical assistance can be provided, regardless of the patient's immigration status.”
She also hopes to provide interpreters for patients and establish a financial assistance program to help those who are unable to pay for any type of medical care. Rahel also plans to return to Eritrea to treat and assist impoverished patients who require diagnosis of life-altering diseases.
“My ultimate goal is to be a part of the underserved community and recognize their healthcare rights by providing them with the resources they acquire. I want to be a culturally responsive doctor who is mindful of people’s health as well as their identities, backgrounds, and their lived experiences. “
She said the scholarship will help her afford the training she needs to pursue her dream.
“Receiving this scholarship will give me motivation to work harder towards achieving my career goals and to not give up when I face education setbacks,” she said.
Hoang Nam Do
When Hoang immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, he struggled to learn English. Conversations with classmates were difficult and he had a hard time figuring out what those around him were saying. Sometimes it took three or four times to figure out how to say what he wanted to say. But Hoang was determined. He took notes of all the new words he found or read and practiced communicating with everyone he could- teachers, classmates, cashiers, and Uber drivers.
That determination helped the Evergreen High School graduate land a $10,000 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Scholarship. Hoang will be the first generation in his family to attend college and plans to attend Bellevue College to earn his Associate of Science degree before transferring to a four-year university to study Computer Science.
The jobs he’s held while in high school have shown him how important it is to receive an education.
“These experiences have affected me by letting me know that it's not difficult to find a job, but it's not easy to find a good paying job that you really love, and that education can help me get my dream job.”
He dreams of becoming a software engineer and/or database administrator and in the process, hopes to develop new technologies and solutions to make the world a better place.
“Winning a Highline Schools Foundation Scholarship is a big spiritual and material assistance for me to follow my dream education and career,” he said. “The awarded scholarship will allow me to think less of the financial burden when attending college for four years, so I can concentrate on my studying.”
Michele Mojarro wants to challenge the perception that women of color cannot achieve great things. The Evergreen High School graduate plans to pursue a career in nursing and use her bilingual skills to return to her community to provide needed services and resources.
Michele received a $20,000 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Scholarship and will attend Seattle University in the fall to pursue a career in nursing. Michele learned the importance of receiving an education by watching how hard her parents worked to support her family. As a child, she did not understand why her father worked so hard. He left the house before dawn and returned after midnight as he worked to support his family.
“Sometimes a week would pass by without me seeing or hearing from him. It always hurt to try to fill in those missing gaps,” she said. But now she understands her father’s struggle to support their family.
“My father is the person I look up to the most. He went to work when he was only 19 to start earning money and wasn’t able to complete high school but he has worked day in and day out to support his family.”
She said schools that look at test scores alone miss the bigger picture and students’ individual circumstances.
“This leaves out work ethic, resilience, passion, struggles, and commitment,” she said. “A financial aid report does not show a family's struggle, background, hardships, or barriers. I found it an inspiration to be a student, and a low-income Latina female, who wanted to change statistics and be the example for my sibling and other students around me.”
Michele said receiving the scholarship will remove the financial burden and allow her to focus on school.
“It's been hard being told I wouldn't make it anywhere and trying to move forward from there. I believe I deserve the chance to show that my hard work ethic and eagerness to never stop will take me anywhere. Being awarded this scholarship will also help take one block off my parents' backs as they worry about being able to provide support for me to attend a four-year school.”
Learn how you can help with the Golf Tournament.