A trio of Mercer Island High School (MIHS) students along with four Seattle high-schoolers who have all demonstrated exceptional academic achievements, leadership and community service were recently honored as Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund scholars.
The senior high school young women stood front and center at a May 21 ceremony at the Burke Museum in Seattle and the graduates-to-be will receive $5,000 college scholarships to continue their academic journeys at either private or public two- or four-year colleges or universities this fall.
The Island recipients are Angeline Lee, Jaya Manhas and May Tran and they join Rainier Beach students Maurianna Vega and Ruby Lee, and Chief Sealth International students Fatima Ibrahim and Kayla Buechler.
“Our scholars this year come from diverse backgrounds and have different academic interests and goals. We are confident that they will make great contributions to their colleges and communities,” said Mercer Island-based scholarship fund board chair Michelle Flowers-Taylor, Ed.D.
Dr. Dunham, a prolific 1960 MIHS graduate, died of cancer at the age of 52 in 1995. During her lifetime, she was a pioneering anthropologist, activist and mother of 44th United States President Barack Obama and distinguished academic scholar Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. According to the fund’s website, Dunham was “a passionate advocate for education who strongly believed in empowering young women to realize their full potential.”
On the MIHS front, Tulane University-bound Lee’s volunteering activities revolved around music and medicine; Manhas, who will attend Chapman University, has volunteered as an advocate for youth battling mental health issues; and incoming University of Washington student Tran served as lieutenant governor of 10 key clubs and displays a passion for spreading more AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) awareness on Mercer Island.
At Rainier Beach, Paul Quinn College-bound Vega has embraced the challenge to notch solid grades in school; and Ruby Lee, who plans to attend the Pratt Institute, has focused her lens on filmmaking while putting her creative expression into play, and community organization through social justice work.
Chief Sealth International seniors Ibrahim, who has her sights set on South Seattle Community College for two years before transferring to a university, desires to travel extensively and help people, and University of Washington-bound Buechler is engrossed in addressing healthcare inequity and inaccessibility within local and global communities.
“We believe that investing in the education of young women is critical for creating a more equal and just society. By providing financial support and other resources, we hope to help these young women to succeed academically, professionally and personally,” Flowers-Taylor said.
During a gathering in the MIHS foyer on Nov. 29, 2022, which would have been Dunham’s 80th birthday, Seattle artist Al Doggett unveiled the stunning, lifelike portrait that he painted of Dunham.
In a previous Reporter article, Flowers-Taylor said she hopes that students can be inspired by Dunham’s legacy when they view the “beautiful” and “thoughtful” portrait, which was financed by a Seattle Foundation education fund. She said that MIHS students who reside on a compact island can follow in Dunham’s footsteps and make an impact in the world.
For more information, visit https://stanleyanndunhamfund.org/