McDonald's/APIA Scholarship Program Awards a Half a Million Dollars in Scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander American Students

September 29, 2020

The program is providing financial support to college students navigating difficult and uncertain education landscape due to current pandemic

(CHICAGO, Ill.) – Sep. 29, 2020 – McDonald’s USA is thrilled to announce 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,” said 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 

About McDonald’s USA
McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook.

About APIA Scholars
Based in Washington, D.C., APIA Scholars is the nation's leading non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs). APIA Scholars works to create opportunities for students to access, complete, and succeed after post-secondary education; thereby developing future leaders who will excel in their career, serve as role models in their communities, and ultimately contribute to a vibrant America. Since 2003, APIA Scholars has awarded more than $150 million in scholarships to deserving APIA students. APIA Scholars manages three scholarship programs: APIA Scholarship, the AANAPISI Scholarship, and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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