Another year of my high school career has passed. Why do I know? This last weekend, I attended, for the third year, Asian American Heritage Council AAHC’s Student Achievers Scholastic Awards ceremony. I’m currently a junior, so that meant this year I applied for my sophomore year, my last academic period year. I was very blessed this year to be chosen as the Essay scholarship winner and to be able to read it in front of all those people was truly an honor.

AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards Essay Award
Eppie Bang presents the Essay Awards: 1 Alexander Tao, 2 Nicolas Cai, 3 Sweta Srinivasan

When I first saw the topic question for the essay this year, I automatically knew what I was going to write about. The topic in question this year was posed as a challenge: “As Asian Americans, how and in what ways can we promote unity in diversity?” When I read this as I filled out this year’s application, my thoughts were hooked onto one word in that prompt, “we”. Who is this we the prompt wants me to address? I pondered. I then realized that this “we”, as much of an all-encompassing word that it is, failed very much in capturing the multitude of different ethnicities that the country of Asia contains. I came into writing the essay with this thought in mind and also a critiquing attitude on some actions that I thought we could take as a community to improve our cohesion. For those of you who are interested, my full essay can be found on the REACH blog at Personally, this ceremony also represented growth for me.

When I first applied my freshman year of high school, my application was not even looked at, due to problems with an unsealed transcript. Although I was quite disappointed at the time, it was a humongous opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes, which I did. The following year I applied again and was delighted to win the second place award for my freshman year. This year, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had gotten the first place prize for my application. Overall, this scholarship has just really helped teach me about the importance of climbing out and learning from one’s mistakes. I was also glad to see a lot of my friends from REACH (Recognizing Experiencing Asian Cultural Heritage) at the ceremony. A few of us came as volunteers and we also had some REACH applicants that got awards.

AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 2019
A.A.H.C. Asian American Heritage Council Board of Directors and sponsors: New York Life Orlando General Office, CINO International Inc., Maaswinkel Law P.A., Payas, Payas & Payas Attorneys At Law, and media sponsor Asia

To conclude, I’d just like to offer my gratitude to the sponsors of this year’s scholarship ceremony. New York Life, Payas Payas Payas Attorneys at Law, Cino Realty, Maaswinkel Law, and last but not least, Asia Trend. Your contributions to this ceremony represent much more than just monetary support for students; by donating to the AAHC scholarship ceremony, you are supporting Asian culture and helping Asian American students recognize and be proud of their cultures.

Alex Tao – REACH – AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 10th Grade 1st place

Emcees: Jiselle Lee and Sara Chen


On November 16, 2019, the Asian American Heritage Council (AAHC) held its annual Asian American Student Achievers Awards at the Orlando Public Library. For the past 28 years, AAHC has given over $200,000 in scholarships to recognize students of Asian descent for their excellence in academia, leadership, community service, and preservation of culture and language. There are applicants from all over Central Florida who applied to make this even more competitive each year. There are two categories that you can apply for, the Scholastic Achievement and Preservation of Ethnic Culture and Language. For the Scholastic Achievement Award, there are usually three winners for each grade, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. This award focuses on academics, community service, and leadership. The Preservation of Ethnic Culture and Language has one winner from each organization and it focuses on how one contributes to their Asian community.

Indonesian Folk Dance by VIDA – Pangkur Sagu by Girauld, Emma and Kayla.
Chinese Yoyo performance by Chinese School of CAACF – Alexis Dorman and Emily Dorman

For those interested in applying for the scholarship, students who have completed third grade and up through high school are eligible to apply.  While the application deadline is in October, the scholarship generally covers academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities of the applicant from August 14 to August 15 of the following year.  Please visit if you’d like to learn more.

The Asian American Heritage Council (AAHC) is a non-profit organization in Central Florida that consists of Asian American organizations around Florida.  These organizations range from social, cultural, business, religious, educational, professional, to health & fitness and diversity networks. Although the organizations all have different missions, they work together and serve the Asian American community. Visit their website at for more information.

Preservation award

  • Patrick Anderson – CAACF – Preservation of Asian Culture
  • Ivan Shi – CHINESE SCHOOL – Preservation of Asian Culture
  • Frances Yong – OCPA – Preservation of Chinese Culture
  • Takkai Wong – REACH – Preservation of Asian Culture
  • Ken Yeung – YESS – Preservation of Asian Culture
  • Girauld Grill – VIDA – Preservation of Indonesia Culture
  • Shreyaashri Selvakumar – MSCF – Preservation of Indian Culture
  • Jaiden Reyes – WAT FLORIDA DHAMMARAM – Preservation of Thai Culture
  • Alexander Lee – Asia Trend – Preservation of Vietnamese Culture
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards Preservation Award
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards Preservation Award

Essay Award

  • 1 Alexander Tao
  • 2 Nicolas Cai
  • 3 Sweta Srinivasan

AAHC Student Achievers’ Scholastic Award

3rd Grade

  • 1 Kevin Guo – OCPA 
  • 2 Aiden Xu – OCPA 
  • 3 Ryan Han – OCPA
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 3rd Grade

4th Grade

  • 1 Tristan Hoon – The Chinese School of CAACF
  • 2 Yu ( Jordina )Wang – REACH
  • 3 Deeksha Kamesh – MSCF
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 4th Grade

5th Grade

  • 1 Nathan Kwok – REACH
  • 2 Angelina Lee – Asia Trend
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 5th Grade

6th Grade

  • 1 Ruby Feng – OCPA
  • 2 Emily Dorman – The Chinese School of CAACF
  • 3 Mike Wong – REACH
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 6th Grade

7th Grade

  • 1 Hannah Moribe Swindell – JAO
  • 2 Ivan Shi – The Chinese School of CAACF
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 7th Grade

8th Grade

  • 1 Lucy Guo – OCPA
  • 2 Ava Cheng – REACH
  • 3 Leanne Smith – CAACF
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 8th Grade

9th Grade

  • 1 Varsha Naga – MSCF
  • 2 Deepika Kannan – MSCF
  • 3 Rebekah Joe – REACH
  • 4 Shivani Kabilan – MSCF
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 9th Grade

10th Grade

  • 1 Alexander Tao – REACH
  • 2 Amber Wei – OCPA
  • 3 Alexis Dorman – The Chinese School of CAACF
  • 4 Divya Srinivasan – MSCF
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 10th Grade

11th Grade

  • 1 Aishwarya Babuji – MSCF
  • 2 Ronald Xu – OCPA
  • 3 Elizabeth Sun – OCPA
  • 4 Jiselle Lee – REACH
  • special acknowledgment Brenton Zhang – OCPA
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 11th Grade

12th Grade

  • 1 Malavika Kannan – MSCF
  • 2 Hanz Jung – REACH
AAHC Student Achievers Scholastic Awards 12th Grade

Photos:  Jesson Aaron Medenilla and C.K. Lau (To view the photo album, visit