Adoptee Excellence Scholarship

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About the Scholarship

The Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship is the first scholarship program of its kind that acknowledges, celebrates, and supports outstanding undergraduate students and graduating high school seniors who are international adoptees, born in and adopted from another country to the United States. One individual will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to support their full-time study at an accredited institution. 

The Adoptee Excellence Scholarship is open to international adoptees who demonstrate the attributes of leadership, drive, integrity, and civic engagement. Also-Known-As seeks candidates who have used their adoption story and formative youth experiences to lead, serve, and pursue a life of purpose and significance, both individually and for their communities.  

Scholarship Winner 2022: Jin Oakes

Please join us in congratulating our 2022 Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship winner, Jin Oakes (he/him)! An inspiring candidate, Jin exemplifies an outstanding sense of resilience combined with a profound and humbling empathy. He was adopted from China and raised in a small, predominantly white town in New Hampshire, and is currently an undergraduate student in Massachusetts working towards a Bachelor of Arts in History and Asian Studies. He hopes to earn a PhD in a related field after graduation with the ultimate goal of establishing a permanent museum at the Smithsonian dedicated to Asian and Pacific Islander American history since one of his passions is getting “the stories of Asian, Pacific Island, and Hawaiian Americans out there.” He is also a skilled photographer, musician, and scrapbooker.

In 2018, Jin found a community of other adoptees through the online group Subtle Asian Adoptee Traits. As one of the group’s earliest administrators, Jin helped establish a welcoming and warm online space for Asian adoptees all over the world and, at the same time, learned from others, shared his story, and made new friendships. This experience taught him the importance of community, dialogue, and how to connect with others whose lives and experiences differed from his. It also demonstrated his long-term commitment to other adoptees and the importance of having a space like Subtle Asian Adoptee Traits for those who may not have a community of their own.

Apart from his academic achievements (including graduating as his high school’s valedictorian), professional goals, and community involvement, Jin’s determination to assert who he is on his own terms is nothing less than a portrait of strength. As international adoptees, we know that identity is complex and more times than not, requires the audacity to take up and make space for ourselves and others. For Jin, his transgender/LGBTQ+ identity is just as much a part of him as are his adoptee and Asian identities. It wasn’t until late 2021 when he decided to fully and proudly embrace who he is, despite being unaccepted by those closest to him. With the support of his friends and his partner, he continued to persevere and embrace his true self: Asian, adoptee, and transgender. He reflects that “the support in real life and online made me realize I didn’t need to be afraid. I could just be me—and that was enough.”

Congratulations, Jin! We are ecstatic to recognize and celebrate you with the awarding of this scholarship. During these extremely challenging and unpredictable times, adoptees like you and your fellow applicants serve as fine representatives and beacons of hope for a brighter future. We applaud the example you set for adoptees across our country and wish you all the best for the years ahead.

2021 Winner: Allemu Slattery

Please join us in congratulating our 2021 Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship winner, Allemu Slattery! An inspiring candidate, Allemu exemplifies an outstanding sense of self-initiative and resilience, combined with a profound and humbling empathy. A recent high school graduate from Minnesota, Allemu and his sister were adopted from Ethiopia when he was seven years old. Faced with the difficulties of language and cultural immersion at a young age, over time he transformed personal learning challenges into strengths, only to excel academically by the end of his high school career. Graduating in the top 5% of his class, he also tutored math and literacy at his school, volunteered as a little league baseball and middle school basketball coach, and earned specialized state certification as a soccer referee. Within the greater community, Allemu continued to give back. He founded a food distribution project called “Oodles of Noodles” that disperses surplus goods to food shelters and raised money to honor fallen veterans on Memorial Day at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. He went from apprentice to employee at a non-profit bike shop that provides teens with exposure to small-business ownership and specialized skills in repairing bikes. Of all these, Allemu’s proudest accomplishment so far has been for his birthplace: he created a successful GoFundMe campaign for Roots Ethiopia, a non-profit that builds schools, provides educational materials and Covid-19 supplies to impoverished areas of Ethiopia. Through his generosity, this adoptee has been able to serve many communities on different scales. He will continue this work by attending the University of Minnesota to pursue Architectural Design and create energy efficient affordable housing in urban areas. One day, he hopes to become the principal architect at his own design firm.

Congratulations, Allemu!  Also-Known-As could not be more excited to celebrate Allemu’s accomplishments and future endeavors. We applaud the example you set for adoptees across our country and wish you all the best for the years ahead. During these challenging times, adoptees like you and your fellow applicants serve as fine representatives and beacons of hope for a brighter future.  Also-Known-As is rooting for you and each candidate every step of the way!

2020 Winner: Fikirte Hunt

Please join us in congratulating our 2020 Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship winner, Fikirte Hunt.

Fikirte Hunt was born in Ethiopia and adopted when she was two years old. Raised in a multicultural family in New York City, Fikirte is a global citizen and advocate. Through various leadership positions, she has made a positive impact in her community with her work in Model United Nations, Black Student Union, and student government, along with non-profit youth organizations Girls Write Now, All Together Now, and LitWorld. Ms. Hunt is also keenly aware of the importance of community for young people: she volunteers her time to mentor young adoptees through playgroups and camps; as a writing teacher and mentor, she also helps young people find their voice and share their stories through writing and by creating short films.

Fikirte has exemplified a dedication to personal development and empathy for others and has sought out ways to let people know they are not alone in their experiences. After overcoming major challenges in her own life, Ms. Hunt set out to help others by spreading mental health awareness through her own social media campaign. One of her teachers writes, “Her perseverance and strength is quite admirable; I’ve never encountered a student like Fiki who fights through hardships with such love and positivity.” Fikirte aspires to become a psychologist for international adoptees and their families one day; she will be attending Bates College and majoring in clinical psychology in the fall.  

Outside of these achievements, Fikirte is a National Honor Society member, writer, filmmaker, pianist, fencer, and award-winning chess player. She ranked 11th in the nation for girls’ youth chess, and has even represented the United States in World Youth Chess competitions overseas. Also-Known-As is ecstatic to showcase and celebrate this incredible individual. Congratulations, Fikirte! We applaud the example you set for adoptees across America and wish you the best in your bright future ahead.

This year we received 119 diverse and compelling applications from across the country—more than double from last year—at a tremendous level of quality. Candidates were internationally adopted at various ages from 15 different countries. The scholarship committee, comprised of five fellow international adoptees, read and graded all application materials with a detailed, comprehensive rubric; the pile went from 119 applications to 25; down to 11; and after much discussion and deliberation, a winner emerged. We were moved by such talented young adoptees who have pursued personal and academic excellence, distinguishing themselves at home, school, work, and in their communities, and were inspired by reading their stories. These young scholars have overcome tremendous personal circumstances and made positive decisions, all the while demonstrating compassion for peers and others in need, by actively supporting initiatives to address important environmental and societal issues. It was truly a privilege to be able to get to know each candidate, and we feel honored that they were willing to share their stories with us.  

2019 Winner: Darci Siegel

Please join us in congratulating our 2019 Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship winner – Darci Siegel! A rising senior at Vassar College, Darci was adopted from China when she was 11 months old. Acutely aware of how her own story is grounded in gender-based policies, she has held actor, activist, teacher, writer, and community organizer roles for various causes she feels passionate about, including creating inclusive safe spaces for women and people of color on her college campus, and fighting injustices against women and children on various city, state, national and international platforms. This summer Darci will be visiting China with her orphanage “sisters” and documenting her experiences. She will also be writing her senior thesis on transnational adoption, focusing on transracial and transcultural identity, and exploring the cultural, political and social identity of female Asian adoptees in the United States.

Congratulations, Darci!  We applaud the example you set for adoptees across our country and wish you all the best for the years ahead. The world is awaiting you… and Also-Known-As will be rooting for you every step of the way!

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the 2023 application open?

The application will be available by February.

When is the application due?

The application will be due at the end of April.

What is the scholarship timeline? 

Applications are due at the end of April and will be reviewed by the Scholarship Committee in May. During this time, we kindly ask you to refrain from inquiring about your application status. 

When will the winner be announced?

The winner will be announced in June on all of Also-Known-As’ social media accounts, our website, and our newsletter. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

Applicants of the Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship must:

  1. be a U.S. citizen and an international adoptee—a U.S. citizen who was born outside of the United States and adopted from another country
  2. be a current undergraduate student age 25 or under, or a high school senior who is graduating in the spring or summer of 2023
  3. plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year

We are unable to make any exceptions if you do not meet these requirements.

Is the scholarship open to graduate students?

No. At this time, the scholarship is only available to undergraduate students in the United States.

Do I have to be an Asian adoptee to apply?

No, you just need to have been adopted internationally to the United States. Our scholarship—and Also-Known-As as an organization—is not exclusively for Asian adoptees.

What can the scholarship be used for?

The scholarship can only be used to help pay for tuition, room/board, books, and other expenses related to your college education. The Scholarship Committee considers financial need, so the more specific you are about what you will use the money for, the better it will help the Committee when deciding on your application.

My school does not allow me to send official transcripts myself; can my school counselor submit it on my behalf?

Yes. If you are unable to obtain a copy of your official transcript, please have your school counselor (or equivalent authorized individual) send it on your behalf, and indicate in your application that your transcript will be sent separately.

Please note that if we do not receive your official transcript by the deadline, your application will be considered incomplete.

Can my letter of recommendation be sent separately?

Yes. Please have your recommender specify who they are recommending in their email, and indicate in your application that your letter will be sent separately. 

Please note that if we do not receive your letter of recommendation by the deadline, your application will be considered incomplete.

Can I donate to the scholarship?

Yes! If you would like to make a donation specifically for the scholarship, please let us know and we can guide you through the process. 

Where can I learn more?

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I have a question that was not answered here; who can I reach out to?

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