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Scholarship Winners Shoot for the Stars

September 21, 2021

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (STIA) Scholarship Committee has selected three deserving recipients for its longest-running scholarship, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (STIA) Scholarship. Launched in 2002, this needs-based scholarship for students motivated to pursue a STEM education is funded through the annual STIA Charity Golf Tournament organized by volunteer employees of the Port of Seattle and HMS Host.

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.

Three scholarships were awarded in 2021: Two $20,000 scholarship for students attending a four-year institutions and one $10,000 scholarship for a student attending a two-year institution.  

The 2021 recipients are: Jasmeen Kaur, Evergreen High School; Ricardo Ceja, Highline High School; and Fana Hagos, Evergreen High School.

Here are the stories of this year’s scholarship recipients.

Jasmeen Kaur, Evergreen High SchoolJasmeen Kaur

Jasmeen Kaur wants to become a nurse because she is passionate about giving back and supporting others during vulnerable times in their lives. She already has a jumpstart on her career goal, spending the past summer working as a Certified Nursing Assistant while studying for the TEAS test, an entrance exam required by some nursing programs.

At the same time, she attended South Seattle College, working her way through the prerequisites required to apply to Associate Degree in Nursing programs. Her goal is to begin nursing school by the time she turns 18 years old and eventually work in a community or hospital setting. One day she hopes to pursue a Doctorate degree in Nursing Practice.

“I will give my best to bring a positive change to our community by protecting patients’ rights, ensuring their safety, and considering their care and needs,” she wrote in her scholarship application.

Rachel Kerr, school counselor at Evergreen High School, wrote in Jasmeen’s letter of recommendation:

“I’m not sure where she finds the time to do everything, but she is always seeking out more opportunities to learn and grow. ... Her immense passion, kindness, and strength to put forth her best effort in everything she does distinguishes her from her peers. She is hands down one of the most genuine students I’ve met in my career! She is so ready to absorb everything and pave her own path.”

Ricardo Ceja, Highline High SchoolRichard Ceja

Ricardo Ceja dreams of being a prominent engineer that “advances humanity to an exceptional future.”

“When we look at the world around us, from the buildings that seem to stretch beyond the sky’s limits or to the everlasting bridges that connect us — who do we thank? It is innovation that drives and shapes our societies, and it is engineering that makes it possible.”

Ceja has long been fascinated with aeronautical science, and he is currently considering a career in aerospace engineering. He is attending University of Washington this fall to study engineering. Being awarded the scholarship has helped make college a reality for Ceja.

“There was a point in my education where I felt that college, no matter how much I wanted to go, may not be possible for me. The STIA scholarship has made a world of difference by allowing me to pursue my goals without financial worry and with my utmost motivation. I am immensely grateful for all of the opportunities I have received, opportunities like this that make going to college a reality.”

David Ruby, a teacher at Highline High School wrote in Ceja’s letter of recommendation “I have had the joyful privilege of being a teacher for this curious, friendly, responsible, and overall well-rounded young man.”

He said Ceja really began to shine when he joined the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program.

“His joy in learning — and in being a teacher, tutor, collaborator, or friend — is abundant,” Ruby said.

Fana Hagos, Evergreen High SchoolFana Hagos

Fana Hagos hopes to work in the tech world one day, working for an innovative company like Amazon or Microsoft.

“I want to use my degree to create programs to provide technology access for the next generations. By doing this project, students will benefit from technology at a young age. Another career goal that I have is to start my own business.”

On her path to achieve this goal, she plans to double major in computer science and business at the University of Washington this fall. She previously took classes at South Seattle College through its Running Start program.

“My aspiration is to make my parents proud and achieve my goals as I planned and be successful in my life. I came here to get a better education, so I’m going to use this opportunity,” she said. “This scholarship means a lot to me and to my family. Now I don’t have to worry about financial aid; I can just focus on school with my full energy.”

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