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2012 Scholarship Recipients    
High School Graduates
Raquel Taitingfong
PIFA Top Scholar Award Recipient
Jonathan Tarr Foundation Award

Raquel Taitingfong is of Chamorro decent.  She graduated from Madison High School with honors maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.5 or above, and will be attending the University of Hawaii in the fall.  Raquel was the 2011-2012 Homecoming Queen, ASB Commissioner of Dances, Girls Volleyball Senior Varsity Team Captain, and organized events such as the Homecoming Dance, ASB Ball, and Senior Prom. She participated in many of the school clubs such as the Circle of Friends, the AVID Club, and mentoring and interacting with other students with special needs.   She volunteered regularly and continuously supported the High School Football Team, the Community Youth Football Program, and the Community Recreation Center's "Special Events Program" volunteering for various events.   Raquel is very proud of being actively involved in Polynesian Dancing.  She is currently with the group Leiisa Polynesian Dance Group where she enjoys learning, and performing songs and dances of various cultures and had the privilege of sharing the culture throughout the community for the past 11 years such as PIFA, Hui O Hawaii Cultural Day, various military shows, KPBS Salute to our Local Heroes, Heiva San Diego Gala/Competition supporting charities, and many more.  On a professional level, in pursuit of her college studies and becoming a Neonatal Nurse, she hopes to one day contribute her services within the Pacific Islander Community as well.


Darline Schwenke

Miss PIFA 2012

Darline is a graduate of Eastlake High School she plans to continue her education at Southwestern College followed by transferring to San Diego State University where she will major in Communications and pursue a career in public relations, marketing or media relations. Darline was her high school’s Varsity Cheer Captain, ASB Commissioner of Pep & Activities, School Ambassador and participated in National Cheer Competitions. She enjoys photography and editing movies, has volunteered with Operation Clean Sweep and is an active member of "Best Buddies" which partners with developmentally challenged students and assisting them with homework and other social activities. She also loves coaching youth cheerleaders which gives her the opportunity to mentor young girls in a positive way. Darline always tries to keep a positive outlook in life and cheerful attitude and she says that people often say she doesn’t look Samoan, but then she tells them that is because they cannot see her heart.
Justine Ioane

Justine is a high school graduate of Morse High School and plans to attend San Diego City College in the fall. Justine loves to work with the youth and most of her volunteer efforts take place at her church where she helps with events, keeping it clean, fundraising and more. Aside from the church she participates in the Homeless Ministry with the Rock Church. This program has really changed her perspective of life. She continues to support this ministry because she is eager to show the people that someone does care. Justine was the Co-President of the Morse Islander Student Association in her Senior Year. She also helped coordinate and host the Morse High School 8th Annual Luau which was a profitable event and was able to show the community the diversity of the Pacific Islander people. Justine has been dancing the art of Samoan dancing since she was a child and continues to share that love. She knew since she was a little girl that was her passion, being able to share her culture with the community. Her future plans include obtaining an Associate Degree in the Medical Field and enter the Military as an officer.
Amy Singh

Amy Singh graduated from Carlsbad High School with honors with a 3.97 GPA.    She will be attending Brigham Young University in Idaho in the fall where she will major in Elementary Education.  Her favorite subject in school was Math and ASL (American Sign Language) which gave her the opportunities tutoring other high school students  and to work with students in the deaf community.  She was able to use her education and communication skills to teach, participate and even perform with the deaf community.  She would love to someday be an interpreter for ASL.  She is also very proud of her ancestral background being Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese and Nepalese.  She embraced her Polynesian heritage by participating in music and dance for twelve years.  She danced for the Polynesian Club at CHS and feels fortunate to have learned the cultures, music and dances of each of the Polynesian islands.  Some of her other interests would include, singing, show choir, dancing (hip-hop), theater arts (which she just finished Phantom of the Opera), playing the piano for eleven years, photography, being a youth leader for church, earning the Young Women in Excellence Award and volunteering for over 200 hours of service during her high school years.
Candace Borja

Candace has recently graduated from El Camino High School and plans on attending Palomar College this fall, finishing general education, and then transferring to a university to pursue a study in Aviation Science. Throughout high school, Candace has actively been involved with the Kutturan Chamoru Foundation, the El Camino drama department, and is a four year El Camino cheerleader, as well as receiving an AP scholars award in 2011. Candace is much honored to be a scholarship recipient this year and would like to thank God and her parents Vincent and Helene Borja for guiding her in life, and being the best support system out there. Si Yu'us Ma'ase to everyone who helped in making this opportunity possible! Hu guiya hao y familiaku !
Jessikalynn Merghart

PIFA Top Scholar Award Recipient

Kalena Merghart currently attends San Diego State University where she will be a senior in the fall. Raised with a family owned halau, Halau O Na Ali’I, where she is also a main component, Kalena has always had a permanent foundation to grow and learn within the Polynesian community embracing all parts of her heritage; including those of the Polynesian culture.  She has maintained being a part-time worker, teacher, dancer, intern and full-time student while achieving no less than a 3.0 GPA.  Becoming Vice-President of the Pacific Islander Student Association at San Diego State University, Miss Heiva 2010 and being invited to participate in two of the most renowned Polynesian festivals, the Merrie Monarch Festival (Hawaii) and the Heiva Festival (Tahiti) are only a few highlights of this young woman’s life.    She has learned new traits of being a role model while appreciating the many positions that she has been placed in throughout the years.  These leadership positions have also helped with introducing her to more opportunities to give back to the community as a young leader.  Kalena’s dream is to become a registered dietician, and also have the opportunities to travel and study abroad.  Travelling will allow her to study nutrition and culture abroad and learning more about nutrition and food sources that other countries benefit from that could be applied in our society. 
Mialani Love

Mialani (Mia) Marie Love currently attends Grossmont College and plans to transfer to a university. She has a strong desire to have a career in Broadcast/Television with aspirations of having her own radio or television show so that she can continue to outreach to the youth and promoting the Pacific Islander Culture.  She is very proud of her accomplishments as Miss Pacific Islander of San Diego 2011-2012, which has opened many doors for her.  Serving as Miss PIFA has allowed Mia to have a voice in the community providing her with an outlet to promote the island cultures bringing unity amongst the Pacific Islander communities and working with the youth on the importance of education.  She continues to make volunteering an important part of her life working with organizations such as Pin Pals Jr. Links, an organization sponsoring kids’ golf programs to inner-city youth and wounded Vets, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet assisting teaching tiny tots’ ballet, Inner City Faith Fellowship working with and mentoring the youth ministry and teaching Polynesian dance class.  Mia has a deep love for dance and has danced with the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, SDCYB, Dance Express and Taupou Samoa. She has been an active volunteer for the Pacific Islander Festival since she was 12 years old. As Mia enters the next phase in her life, she plans to continue volunteering with the Pacific Islander Festival Association while furthering her education in the field of Telecommunications and Broadcasting.  Mia is proud of her Samoan heritage and the one thing she loves about the culture is the language.  One of her favorite sayings in Samoan is, “Tu’u muamua le Atua I mea”, which means “Put God first in front of everything; God comes first above all.”  This is the one thing she thrives to do.  
Ilima MacFarlane

Ilima-Lei MacFarlane currently attends San Diego State University where she will be a senior in the fall.  She has held the title of Vice-President and President of the Pacific Islander Student Association and has remained on the Dean’s List for several semesters there.  She keeps her Hawaiian culture close to her as she danced with Halau Hula Olana since the age of 6 and loves to support her college’s sporting events.  This summer she volunteered at the Pacific American Academy and also promotes an occasionally performs for Polynesian Underground.  Ilima-Lei’s goals for the future include completing some of her graduate schooling either abroad or as part of the Peace Corps or Ameri Corps program.  At this time she is considering earning a Master’s Degree in Anthropology or Education.   
Jacob de Soto

Jacob De Soto currently attends Southwestern College as a Business Administration major with plans to transfer to San Diego State University.  Jacob graduated from Eastlake High School in 2010 where he was on the wrestling team, track and field team, and the 2010 CIF Division 1 Champion Football team. Jacob has plans after college to master his business education by opening up a business of his own in an area where he truly believes he can find success and happiness.  He plans on traveling around the world especially back to where his life began, on the beautiful island of Guam.  He has spent a number of years lending a helping hand to the Pacific Islander Festival Association.  He participated in a number of community walks and spent several years ushering at St. Anthony's of Padua church. Jacob would like to thank the PIFA scholarship committee for allowing him to be a part of their family and for all the help that they have provided him.  Jacob is a proud Chamorro and he would like to extend his thanks to his parents Jeff and Claire De Soto and his sisters Gabby and Kaelah for their support and unconditional love, his grandparents Lou and Joe Pangelinan and Mary and Junior Aguon, Auntie Lola Pangelinan and family, to his lifelong brothers and friends, and his family back home on Guam especially to his Papa Joseph Ivan De Soto. Thank You and Si Yu'us Ma'ase.

Amber Singh

Amber is currently a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She is majoring in Public Relations and is grateful for the opportunity she has to further her education in this field. She continues to maintain a GPA higher than 3.5 while being involved in leadership positions in church and school, where she plans and organizes activities for the young adults in the area. Amber also had the privilege of traveling to Alaska, the Northwestern states, Arizona, New Mexico, Russia and Southern California (Escondido) to perform with the prominent group, Living Legends. She entertains and shares her culture through song and dance… something she has done throughout her life. Through her travel, she appreciated the opportunity she had to learn about other people and their culture. Next year, she looks forward to traveling to Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras with Living Legends. Family and friends are important to Amber and she does all that she can to build and strengthen relationships at home, in the community, at school and at church. She enjoys doing service for others and strives to make a difference in the lives of others.
See Scholarships winners 2011
See Scholarships winners 2010
See Scholarships winners 2009
See Scholarships winners 2008
See Scholarships winners 2007
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High School graduates
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