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2010 Scholarship Recipients    

Racquel Rodriguez
Olympian High School

PIFA Top Scholar Award Recipient
Jonathan Tarr Foundation Award

Racquel Rodriguez is a graduate of Olympian High School and plans to attend San Diego State University.  Racquel has maintained a 3.2 GPA while taking AP English, AP World History and AP Biology.  She has also taken Regional Occupational Program courses in Medical Terminology and Physical Therapy and is currently preparing herself for a career as a Psychologist emphasizing in Marriage and Family Counseling.  Racquel has demonstrated leadership as a secretary for Kiwins, a community service club at her school, where she has participated in the AIDS Walk 2009 and is currently in ASB as the Commissioner of Publicity.  Racquel has also volunteered her time at Nicoloff Elementary with several of the teachers there.  In her community, she is a member of Natibu Dance Hacha, a Chamorro Dance group and is also a member of The Agat Social Club of San Diego.

Paige Nicholette Hudson 
Mira Mesa High School  

Paige Nicholette Hudson is a graduate of Mira Mesa High School Class of 2010. Academically Paige has maintained a 3.0 as a senior and she feels her biggest strengths are in English and American Literature as she enjoys reading and writing. Paige has dedicated the last four years performing a variety of community service through church and the youth group she is involved with. She has traveled to New Orleans to help rebuild a local church during Hurricane Katrina. The experience is truly one that she will never forget having witnessed. Paige also worked as a youth leader with Feeding America as she helped run a day camp for the children there. Helping to organize the curriculum for the camp and spending time with the children was something she loved doing. Paige feels that community service has played a huge role in her life and helped shape her into who she has become. She has danced for eight years with Taupou Samoa and represented and served as Miss Tausala San Diego for her Samoan community. Paige hopes to raise awareness and outreach to her Pacific Islander community. She wants to be able to talk to more young people about the opportunities available to them as Pacific Islanders. Ultimately, her plan is to become a registered nurse in Oncology.  Paige hopes to become a part of a group of doctors and nurses that are dedicated to helping hospitals and clinics in the various Pacific Islands to become more efficient and safe. Dedicating the next year to represent the Pacific Islander Festival Association as Miss Pacific Islander of San Diego 2010 is something that Paige is honored to do and she is looking forward to the opportunities that await her.

Martin Finau
Mountain Empire High School

Martin Finau is a graduate of Mountain Empire High School and plans to attend Texas Wesleyan University in Fortworth, Texas to study Criminal Justice and Social Welfare where he would like to enhance and prepare himself to better interact and understand people’s needs and struggles.  One of Martin’s goals is to become instrumental person in the community for the Pacific Islander society at large.  Martin has moved a lot over his years and he has seen the urgent needs of his generation.  He hopes to one day make a difference for the youth of today.  Martin has also been very active in his community volunteering to help various elderly homes, singing in his choir and performing cultural dances as special guests to many churches.

Michael Houston
Saint Augustine High School

Michael Houston is one of the first Samoan graduates of St. Augustine High School.  He plans on attending CSU San Marcos.  Michael maintained a 3.08 GPA, receiving first honors in his freshman and senior years and second honors in his junior year.  He also excelled in most of his weighted classes including AP Psychology and AP English.  As an artist, Michael received a first place award at the Del Mar Fair art exhibit for one of his etchings, published a short story in the St. Augustine creative magazine, Santos, produced, directed and filmed two short films titled “A Lonely Day,” and “Funny Business.”  He has dedicated many hours of community service as a daycare assistant at his old parochial school, organized a clothing donation for St. Rose of Lima and served food at St. Vincent de Paul.  Michael feels that one of his most prolific service achievements was helping his Pastor renovate a home to raise money for a church.  He has a great love for the Samoan and Polynesian cultures and hopes to one day use the knowledge learned to help his fellow Samoan people by providing expertise in whatever field he decides to work in.  . 


Jesi Bennett
University of California, San Diego

Jesi Lujan Bennett currently attends the University of California, San Diego, double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies.  She is currently enrolled in two research programs, the McNair Program and Ethnic Studies Honors Program where she is using both to create research papers that analyze and critique the current position of Guam and Chamorros during the Futemma relocation and military buildup that is currently in debate.  Her goal is to continue this work by pursuing a PhD in Ethnic Studies with a focus on the Pacific.  Jesi was recruited in high school by University of California, San Diego to row for their women’s crew team.  Currently she is her eighth year of rowing and fourth year of collegiate racing for UCSD.  She has won over 15 medals in the various events she has raced in.  For the past four years, Jesi has volunteered her time at the UCSD’s women’s crew team’s regatta, Row for the Cure, at Mission Bay.  Every fall they organize a regatta to fundraise for the San Diego community.  She has also worked with the Adopt-A-Family Foundation during the holidays and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

John Finau
Hawaii Pacific University

John Finau currently attends Hawaiian Pacific University and plans to graduate in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts and majoring in Communications with a minor in Religion.  He is very actively involved with his church, particularly in the ministry towards Polynesian youth and young adults, with a goal of commending young adults of Hawaii to Christ and to refrain from drugs.  In 2008, John was accepted into the Wesley White House, which is a branch of the Wesley Foundation program in Hawaii, where he was able to become more involved in feeding of the homeless.  John was also involved in a number of devotions and services held there putting him a step closer towards becoming a minister.  His main goal is to become a United Methodist minister for the American-Tongan congregation and hopes that when he becomes a minister he will be able to make a bigger impact for the Polynesian people. 

Jessikalyn (Kalena) Merghart
San Diego State University

Jessikalyn (Kalena) Merghart currently attends San Diego State University.  Kalena has served her community by donating time to help with animal adoption groups, volunteering with the youth and is currently the titleholder of Miss Heiva USA 2010.  Kalena has learned so much about her heritage while promoting the Polynesian culture through her family’s halau, Halau O Na Ali’i.  She has done several cultural exchanges with groups from Tahiti and New Zealand and has received their blessings to pass the knowledge learned to the rest of the Polynesian community around her.  Along with cultural exchanges, she is currently working towards participating in Merrie Monarch 2010.  Kalena hopes to one day become fluent in the Hawaiian language and pass that knowledge on, as well as, becoming a judge or lead organizer of a large hula competition and many other Polynesian events. 

Amber Singh
Brigham Young University

Amber Singh currently attends Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.  Amber has been very privileged to have received many awards during her high school career and a leadership scholarship by Brigham Young University.  She has learned to become more confident in herself and for what she stands for and this has helped her become a leader in her community.  Every year Amber is involved with Operation Appreciation held in Oceanside where she is able to serve the military men and their families.  She also visits retirement homes to sing, play the piano, entertain and mingle with the elderly.  The one aspect of Amber’s life that she enjoys most is dancing and she has been performing for many years.  At Brigham Young University she continues her passion and will be dancing with the prominent group, Living Legends.  The group celebrates Polynesian culture as they travel and share it with the people all across the nation as well as in China and South America. 

Andres Taijeron
Southwestern College

Andres Taijeron currently attends Southwestern Community College and is majoring in Computer Graphic Design.  He is the first in his family to attend college and he aspires to continue his education at the University of Hawaii or San Diego State University.  Andres feels that education is very important and he hopes to one day find a good career and be able to give back to his family, community and church.  Andres has been involved in student government in high school and was the former Vice President of the Puente Program at Southwestern College.  He has also been awarded several certificates for citizenship, most improved student and for volunteering and has dedicated his time as a sideline manager for Southwestern College’s football team for the past four years.  As a Parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Andres has helped his parish community as an altar server, choir member, youth group member, young adult member and a youth leader for the confirmation retreat.  He was the first Festival King for his parish in 2006.  He is currently a Eucharistic minister and plans to join the Knights of Columbus organization to continue serving his community.

See Scholarships winners 2009
See Scholarships winners 2008
See Scholarships winners 2007
2011 Scholarships
2011 Scholarship applications
Deadline was February 28, 2011
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