â€œI would witness my father hitting or pushing my mother and hear her cries and screams as she crumbled to the ground. While I would want to stop him, fight back for her sake, Iâ€™d stay rooted in my spot, angry at myself for not doing anything and angry at him for what he was doingâ€¦The next morning as I made my way downstairs for school I could see the remnants of the glass coffee table we had bought a year ago, shattered pieces spread over the living room carpet, some shards covered in a red liquid Iâ€™d later realize to be my motherâ€™s blood. These incidents occurred until I was 12, when my mother finally went to the police. We lived under witness protection program for a whileâ€¦Eventually he was jailed then released and then my parents got a divorceâ€¦It was up to me to help my mother collect the pieces of her life and help her through the outcast status the Indian community would label her because she had no husband and therefore was worth nothing. I was her hope. So, my next struggle was to do well enough in school to be able to support myself. I wish to make her proud of her sacrifices. Receiving the APIASF scholarship was so important for me because I come from a low-income, single-parent home, where my mother supports my sister and me, but also our grandmother who requires in-home hospice care. Without this sponsored scholarship, attending the University of Arizona would not be a reality for me.â€
For Nidhi Arora, a freshman at the University of Arizona, a life filled with personal and economic struggles is trumped by her resilience and passion for educational success, leadership, and volunteerism. The 2009-2010 academic year is a turning point for this young woman as she is a recipient of the APIASF/Sodexo Scholarship. Nidhi is one of 225 Scholars at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) awarded during the 2009-2010 academic year.
For many Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs), like Nidhi Arora, access to higher education is often restricted due to economic challenges and limited opportunity. Many deserving APIAs are unable to attend a higher education institution due to the elevated costs of a college education. While the APIA population reigns as the fastest growing ethnic segment of the U.S. population [22% growth between 2000-2005] with a significant percentage of the APIA community still living below the federal poverty line [13% of Asian Americans and 17% of Pacific Islanders compared to 12% of the general population], APIASF provides hope for young APIAs in pursuit of higher education. APIASF is the nationâ€™s largest 501c(3) non-profit organization that provides scholarships to deserving APIAs with financial need. Since 2003, APIASF has been supported by donations from various corporations, businesses, and individuals in order to distribute more than $2.4 million to 1,075 students.
APIASF is an organization that fundamentally grounds itself in providing financial support for APIAs as that is the crux of the organizationâ€™s mission. Its mission is to make a difference in the lives of APIA students by providing them with resources that increase their access to higher education which serves as the foundation for their future success and contributions to a stronger America. Another key element of APIASF is its scaffolding of academic and leadership development for their Scholars and Alumni. Through a range of programmatic efforts, APIASF offers various avenues specifically for scholarship recipients to enhance their academic and leadership experiences.
APIASF manages two major scholarship programs with distinct requirements; the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans (GMS/APIA) Program and the APIASF Scholarship Program. Deadlines for application submission are contingent upon which scholarship program you are interested in. Both scholarships are due in January 2010 and require applying for federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
As seen with Nidhi Aroraâ€™s lived experience, APIASF is directly impacting the APIA community through both financial aid and academic and leadership support. If you are interested in the learning more about APIASF scholarship opportunities or know of an Asian American or Pacific Islander individual applying to college, please check out the web site: www.apiasf.org. -Prema Chaudhari