McDonald’s USA Addresses Financial Hurdles Facing Underserved Asian Pacific Islander American Students with APIA Scholarship

November 08, 2021

55 APIA students set to receive $500,000 total in scholarships to help advance their academic journeys

(CHICAGO – Nov. 8, 2021) - A student inventor, a formerly homeless nursing major, and an aspiring teacher, can put more focus on their dreams and less on how to pay tuition this school year. Today, McDonald’s USA in partnership with APIA Scholars – one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations for Asian Pacific Islander American college scholarships – announces its 2021 McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship recipients. Furthering its longtime commitment to providing resources to students, the scholarship program, established in 2019, is dedicated to addressing the financial barriers that prevent students from pursuing higher education.  

According to Pew Research, Asian Pacific Islander Americans are the most economically divided ethnic group in the U.S., with the top 10% earning nearly 11 times more than those in the bottom 10%. Pew Research also found that income inequality is rising most rapidly within the APIA community.

“There are tremendous socio-economic hurdles within the Asian Pacific Islander American community, which are often overlooked because of the model minority myth. APIAs are not a monolith and income disparities in our community are very real,” said Noël Harmon, President and Executive Director of APIA Scholars. “We’re proud to work with McDonald’s to address these issues and help underserved students reach their full potential.”

Aligning with the program’s mission to aid students who face challenges paying for college, 67% of this year’s scholarship recipients are from families in significant financial need. Half a million dollars in scholarships will be awarded to 55 APIA students; which includes 15 four-year scholarships for $20,000 each and 40 one-year scholarships for $5,000 each. The scholarship recipients were selected based on their academic achievement, leadership ability, and community involvement.

Many of this year’s McDonald’s/APIA Scholars have overcome personal hardships that have inspired them to uplift their communities through education. Some of their stories include:

  • Shanay, 18, is an Indian-American student inventor from Madison, Mississippi who created an affordable 3D-printed prosthetic after witnessing the daily struggles of his double amputee aunt. He plans to develop a prototype for global production.   
  • Daisy, 19, is a Filipino-American student from Las Vegas, who is formerly homeless and a survivor of domestic violence. Inspired by the help she received during her time of need, she is pursuing a career in nursing to take care of others.
  • Harjot, 18, is an Punjabi-American aspiring teacher from Kent, Washington on a mission to diversify U.S. history curriculum. In addition to ensuring inclusion of different voices and perspectives, he hopes to increase minority representation among educators.

“These are tough times, but we remain committed to helping students reach their dreams regardless of their financial limitations,” said Elizabeth Campbell, Senior Director of Cultural Engagement, McDonald’s USA. “Maintaining our partnership with APIA Scholars enables us to identify those in need and make a difference in their lives.” 

Representing 17 Asian Pacific Islander American subgroups across 28 states, this year’s class of McDonald’s/APIA Scholars are both ethnically and geographically diverse. Additionally, 94% of the recipients are first generation immigrants and 56% will be the first in their family to attend college. The ethnic breakdown of the recipients is as follows:

  • 38% arecSoutheast Asian (Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, Filipino, Karen, Burmese, Chamorro/Guamanian, Fijian, Tahitian, and Tongan)
  • 29% are East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)
  • 20% are South Asian (Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani)
  • 9% are Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • 4% are West Asian (Afghan)

“As small business owners, we are committed to serving our local communities and know the importance of investing in communities of color,” said Willie Cho, a Seattle-based McDonald’s Owner/Operator and National Diversity Marketing Committee Lead. “Through initiatives like the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship and APA Next, we are feeding and fostering communities, and remain inspired to make a difference.”

The scholarship is a signature program of APA Next, a recently launched education platform by McDonald’s, created to empower and uplift Asian Pacific Islander American students through their education journey– both in and out of the classroom and beyond. Some of APA Next’s other initiatives include: 

Learn more about the upcoming 2022-2023 APIA Scholarship application and APA Next by visiting

Below are the 2021 McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship recipients:

  • Addison Zou from Collierville, TN attending Williams College
  • Ahmad Zaki Amin from Des Moines, WA attending Highline Community College
  • Akiko Jindo from Bronx, NY attending Williams College 
  • Alexandria Shavers from Oakland, CA attending University of California - Berkeley
  • Alicia L. Kanapilly from Tinley Park, IL attending University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Annie Xiong from Sacramento, CA attending California State University - Sacramento
  • Arrianna Anastasia Ebert from Carrboro, NC attending Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte 
  • Brandon Kaniala William Kohatsu-Robeson from Waimānalo, HI attending Creighton University
  • Christina Pham from San Jose, CA attending DeAnza College 
  • Daisy P. from Las Vegas, NV attending University of Nevada - Las Vegas
  • December Paw from Des Moines, IA attending Drake University 
  • Delia Zhou from Oakland, CA attending University of California - Berkeley
  • Diamond Thlang from Saint Paul, MN attending Stanford University 
  • Eric Wang from Saint Paul, MN attending Yale University 
  • Ester Paw from Hartford, CT attending College of the Holy Cross 
  • Hanako Rose Lynn Gurley from Anderson, IN attending Indiana University - Bloomington
  • Harjot Singh from Kent, WA attending University of Washington - Seattle
  • Jason Lin from Brooklyn, NY attending Stony Brook University
  • Jayson Lin from Montezuma, GA attending Harvard University 
  • Jennifer Le from Washington, D.C. attending Yale University
  • Jessica Le Ta from Buckeye, AZ attending Arizona State University 
  • Jian Ming Chen from Oakland, CA attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • John Gabriel Espinas Flora from Las Vegas, NV attending University of Nevada - Las Vegas
  • Joymin Sarker from Corona, NY attending CUNY Queens College
  • Kazi Maisha Begum from Danbury, CT attending University of Connecticut
  • Keryn Ear from College Park, GA attending Kennesaw State University 
  • Kevin Lin from Milford, DE attending University of Delaware
  • Khandaker Aqib from Buford, GA attending Stanford University
  • Krystal Nguyen from New Port Richey, FL attending St. Petersburg College
  • Kushal Kevin Prasad from Elk Grove, CA attending University of California - Santa Cruz 
  • Lexis Sablan from Barrigada, GU attending Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Lisa T. Thai from Fort Smith, AR attending University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
  • Maheono Teinaohiva Guilloux-Chevalier from Las Vegas, NV attending University of Nevada - Reno
  • Meng Moua from Milwaukee, WI attending University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Mohammad Muntakim from Detroit, MI attending Wayne State University 
  • Muhammad Ali Raja from Las Vegas, NV attending College of Southern Nevada 
  • Nazmin Begum from Dorchester, MA attending University of Massachusetts - Boston 
  • Nina Gao from Philadelphia, PA attending University of Pennsylvania 
  • Nuo Xu from East Longmeadow, MA attending University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Pa Houa Xiong from Saint Paul, MN attending Metropolitan State University 
  • Pravdeep Banwait from Houston, TX attending The University of Texas at Austin
  • Quy Nguyen from Miami, FL attending Florida State University 
  • Raqeebullah Hasan from Edison, NJ attending Stevens Institute of Technology 
  • Rayyan Siddique from Ozone Park, NY attending New York Institute of Technology
  • Sarah Hwang from Los Angeles, CA attending University of Southern California
  • Selena Nguyen from Burien, WA attending University of Washington - Seattle
  • Shanay Desai from Madison, MS attending Vanderbilt University
  • Thuy Kien from Des Moines, IA attending University of Iowa
  • Thuy An Hoang from Blaine, MN attending Century College
  • Tien Dang Le from Lawrenceville, GA attending Middlebury College
  • Tiffany Zhang from Wamego, KS attending Rutgers University - New Brunswick
  • Tou Lao Moua from Saint Paul, MN attending Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • Yati Phuepwint from Austin, TX attending Colorado State University - Fort Collins
  • Yebin Lee from Auburn, AL attending Auburn University 
  • Yuan Yang Liu from Philadelphia, PA attending Temple University

About McDonald’s USA Education Efforts

McDonald’s APA Next is just one of many company initiatives created to serve up bright futures and provide opportunity for education and skills in the communities we serve. These efforts also include the Black & Positively Golden HBCU Scholarship Fund, which is administered through Thurgood Marshall College Fund and helps students continue their undergraduate and graduate school education; the HACER® Education Tour, which provides information to navigate the college application process; and the Archways to Opportunity program, which provides educational resources to eligible crew at participating U.S. restaurants. Together, with franchisees, we are committed to offering opportunities to feed and foster our communities.  


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



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