McDonald’s USA announced the inaugural class of McDonald’s/APIA Scholars. Through this program, the company is awarding $500,000 in scholarships to 55 Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) college students. Established in November 2019 in partnership with APIA Scholars, the scholarship underscores McDonald’s commitment to educating and supporting future leaders, a commitment that remains unchanged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship recognizes the disparities within the community and seeks to help bridge the gap, while providing much needed financial support and opportunities for APIA students.

“When we created the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship program last year, we had no idea that the need for educational support would become greater as a result of the pandemic,” says Jimmy Ferguson, a Texas-based McDonald’s Owner/Operator and APIA Scholars board member. “McDonald’s has always invested in the education of students and future leaders, so we couldn’t be happier to lend a hand and provide financial support for APIA students who are making their dreams of higher education come true.”

While back-to-school plans remain unclear for many, APIA students also face other limiting factors in their education attainment journey. The APIA community has been hit disproportionately with economic hardships as a result of the pandemic, with one-in-five likely to be unemployed according to Pew Research Center, which directly impacts students and their family’s ability to pay for higher education. Often labeled as a model minority, there are tremendous educational and economic disparities within the APIA community that are often overlooked. According to APIA Scholars, the top 10% of APIAs earn more than 10 times the bottom 10% of APIAs. And while half of the community have college degrees, only 25% of all Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Southeast Asian Americans finish higher education.

Among this year’s recipients, 55% of students are Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans. Additionally, 96% of students are first-generation immigrants, 36% of students are the first in their family to go to college, and 76% of students live below the poverty line.

This first class of McDonald’s/APIA Scholars were selected for their academic achievement, leadership and community involvement. Emphasis was also placed on first-generation college attendees and high financial need. Fifteen students were awarded four-year scholarships and 40 students were awarded one-year scholarships, totaling $500,000.

The scholarship application period is currently open and runs through January 14, 2021. Students and parents are encouraged to learn more or apply at

McDonald’s education programs include the HACER® National Scholarship for Hispanic students and the McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden Scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. McDonald’s has also increased education access to over 55,000 and awarded more than $100M in tuition assistance for restaurant employees through Archways to Opportunity.

Following is the complete list of the 2020 McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship recipients:

Muhammad Abdullah (Woodland, CA) attending American River College 

Nuha Asad (New York, NY) attending Fordham University 

Gobinda Bastola (Louisville, KY) attending University of Louisville 

Michelle Dedeles Bermudes (Mangilao, Guam) attending University of Guam 

Keeya Pomaikai Bicoy (Maunaloa, HI) attending Grand Canyon University 

Gemma Cabias (Wahiawa, HI) attending University of Nevada-Las Vegas 

Erica Chen (Elmhurst, NY) attending Stony Brook University 

Kiln Chen (New York, NY) attending University of Pennsylvania 

Lang Cheng (Medford, MA) attending Brandeis University 

Ysabel David (Berkeley, CA) attending Scripps College 

Maricar De Castro (Falls Church, VA) attending St. Olaf College 

Erin Jade Devera (Waipahu, HI) attending Creighton University 

Timothy Niu Faupusa (West Valley, UT) attending Salt Lake Community College 

Helen Gao (Akron, OH) attending University of Maryland-Baltimore County 

Youssef Hasweh (Brooklyn, NY) attending University of Chicago 

Way Myo Hlaing (San Diego, CA) attending University of Southern California 

Tri Ho (Chicago, IL) attending Yale University 

Lesly Duroni Ibarra (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) attending Washington State University 

Hassan Javed (Avon Park, FL) attending Columbia University in the City of New York 

Tracy Jiang (Brooklyn, NY) attending Harvard University 

Figs Ju (Omaha, NE) attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Keonaona Keo (Hauula, HI) attending Brigham Young University-Provo 

Mujahedulislam Rukhshan Khan (Hamtramck, MI) attending University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 

Nischal Khatri (Medford, MA) attending Colby College 

Samantha Leung (Brooklyn, NY) attending Stony Brook University 

Aaliyah Mae Lewis (Tacoma, WA) attending Gonzaga University 

Mai Nou Lor (North Saint Paul, MN) attending University of Wisconsin-River Falls 

Muskan Manzoor (Houston, TX) attending Fashion Institute of Technology 

Ku Mo (Saint Paul, MN) attending University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 

Noor Aminah Binti Mohamad (Portland, OR) attending Portland Community College 

Hassan Mohiuddin (Rochester, NY) attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Jason Duy Nguyen (San Diego, CA) attending University of California, Los Angeles 

Stephanie Nguyen (San Diego, CA) attending University of California San Diego 

Kang Ou (Fremont, OH) attending The Ohio State University – Columbus Campus 

Raj Pandya (Warrenton, MO) attending Yale University 

Cynthia Pham (Crystal, MN) attending University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 

Maliyah Pham (Greeley, CO) attending Colorado State University-Fort Collins 

Marcia Phan (Orlando, FL) attending University of Central Florida 

Warren Quan (San Francisco, CA) attending Princeton University 

Hlin H Rahlan (Charlotte, NC) attending Central Piedmont Community College 

Lea-Ann Sado-Elvenia (Wailuku, HI) attending Hawaii Pacific University 

Kee Lah Soe (Saint Paul, MN) attending Hamline University 

Daryca Sok (Garland, TX) attending Baylor University 

Mahnoor Sultan (Greensboro, GA) attending Mercer University 

Kiki Tang (Fort Myers, FL) attending University of Central Florida 

Esther Taufa’asau (Pago Pago, American Samoa) attending Oregon State University 

Mavaeao Falesoa Tili (Pago Pago, American Samoa) attending American Samoa Community College 

Kasang Lhadon Tobtsang (Woodside, NY) attending Columbia University in the City of New York 

Thane Noble Todd (Hilo, HI) attending University of Nevada-Reno 

Michelle Nhu Tran (Kailua, HI) attending University of Hawaii at Manoa 

Emily Truong (Lakewood, CO) attending University of Southern California 

Michelle Truong (Houston, TX) attending West Texas A&M University 

Sara Zhang (Chicago, IL) attending University of Southern California 

Annie Zhang (Bridgewater, NJ) attending Rutgers University-New Brunswick 

Sabrina Zheng (Brooklyn, NY) attending Stony Brook University 

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