In 2008, I received the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship and I had the rare opportunity to travel back to the Philippines and visit my mother’s native village in Bicol, in the southernmost tip of Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. There I was confronted with the poverty in the region and of my own distant relatives. I had the chance to travel back home and I saw the connection between the desperation of my family and the overwhelming number of immigrants who feel they must migrate to seek a better life. This was a turning point in my life.
In 2015, I want to offer that same opportunity to young Filipino Americans to go back home, discover their roots and at the same time offer them opportunities to become long-term partners for change in the Philippines. I had the tremendous support of the Bayanihan Foundation board members and the NEXTGEN Travel Scholarship came about. Special thanks go to Rebecca Bardach and the Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI) for inspiring me to do this work. After a rigorous and competitive selection process, I am proud to announce the three young Filipino Americans first to win NEXTGEN Scholarships for 2015. The NEXTGEN Fellows will visit the Philippines in June 2015 for 14 days. They will rediscover their homeland and cultural heritage, connect with their relatives, explore opportunities to volunteer and encourage them to be long-term partners for change in the Philippines.
Young Filipino Americans First to Win NEXTGEN Scholarships – Fellows of 2015
Jane Baron immigrated to the US when she was nine years old. She recently obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Loyola University Chicago. During her four years at Loyola, she was involved in Kapwa, a Filipino student organization on campus and became President of Kapwa in the 2014-2015 academic school year. She was also a Women of Color Scholar and a Social Justice Research Fellow at Loyola. Outside of school, she was an Impact Fellow and Kinetic Instructor at Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago.
Marc Butiong is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Finance. He served as a student leader for multiple organizations on campus and will apply the same dedication as a bridge-builder for the Bayanihan Foundation. This will be his first trip to the Philippines and first opportunity to experience the homeland through diaspora philanthropy. He will begin his professional career with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in July 2015.
Jeselle is a recent college graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Asian American Studies. She has a heart for helping others and hopes to make a positive impact in the mental health field. She was born in Manila, Philippines then raised in America—and she embraces her truly Filipino American identity. With the generosity of the Bayanihan foundation, she will finally have the opportunity to explore this identity further.