ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation

ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation Scholarship

Application Information




The Asian Bar Association of Washington is excited to announce the return of the Spring Blossom Fellowship for 2024!

The fellowship will provide one grant of up to $5,000 to a JD student attending a law school in the State of Washington (Gonzaga, SU, or UW) and who will be working with a public interest/service organization during Summer of 2024 and whose work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants.  Applicants must contact a potential employer himself/herself/themselves and arrange for a position in order to qualify for the fellowship.  Thus, applicants should start the process of seeking a summer position as soon as possible. 

Funding for the fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from Hon. Lorraine Lee and John Felleisen, in partnership with the Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation, in the name of and in honor and memory of, Chun Lan “Spring Blossom” Ng Woo, 1918-2008, an immigrant woman from China who lived her life with integrity, courage, and resilience. 

While the fellowship was inspired by the pressing needs of immigrant women, the criteria for award of the fellowship is broader. The fellowship is available to JD students working with a public interest/service organization and whose work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants; the organization does not need to “specialize” in or solely address issues related to the rights of women and/or immigrants.  Further, an applicant need not work only on projects related to the rights of women and/or immigrants during the term of the fellowship, as long as some of the applicant’s work will help advance such rights.  The extent to which the work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants will be just one factor in awarding the fellowship.  

Completed application packets must be submitted by email to the ABAW Scholarship Chair, Monica Keo-Newton at Monica.Keo-Newton@stoel.com, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 12, 2024. Applicants selected for the interview phase of the selection process will be notified during the third week of April. Interviews will take place the week of April 15, 2024.

For more information, please contact:

Monica Keo-Newton

ABAW Scholarship Chair


Application Materials:

2024 Spring Blossom Fellowship - Application.docx

2024 Spring Blossom Fellowship - Employer Profile (Form).docx

2024 Spring Blossom Fellowship Flyer.pdf


The Asian Bar Association of Washington would like to congratulate all of our scholarship and fellowship recipients for 2023.  Please join us in congratulating:

Yamashita Scholarship: Christine Choong

Christine Choong is a proud Malaysian Chinese woman and a 3L student at Seattle University School of Law. Christine was born and raised in Selangor, Malaysia, and moved to the United States when she was 18 years old. Prior to law school, Christine has been actively involved with the Asian Pacific Islander community. Christine worked at the International Rescue Committee’s Naturalization Unit assisting low-income immigrants with their citizenship applications. When anti-Asian racism surged during the COVID 19 pandemic, she went on to join Asian Americans Advancing Justice as a multilingual voter representative to encourage the API community to participate in our democracy by voting and holding elected officials accountable.

At Seattle University School of Law, Christine served as the Events Director for the Asian Law Students Association (ALSA) and planned events to create a sense of belonging and support for the students. She is also a volunteer at the Chinese Information and Service Center Legal Clinic. Since May 2023, Christine has been an intern with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, working in the Violence Against Women Act unit and Family Services Unit. Upon graduation from law school, Christine hopes to seek a career as an immigration attorney to defend and promote the rights of immigrants.

Sharon A. Sakamoto President’s Scholarship: Bernadette Michelle G. Peña

Bernadette is a 3L at the University of Washington School of Law. She immigrated from the Philippines with her parents and sister to the United States eight years ago. Before law school, she worked as a compliance auditor for a non-profit organization called the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging which has been one of her motivations to go to law school to represent Asian immigrants. Currently, she is studying abroad in Japan to not only broaden her learnings about international law but to also go back to her Asian roots while also learning a new culture.

Entering the Seattle legal field as an immigrant, she hopes to use her law degree to give back to the community that has supported her through this journey. She wishes to be a resource and a future mentor to other immigrants who aspire to go to law school. She is grateful for the membership that the current ABAW members have given her, and she hopes to pass on the same support to future law students.

ABAWSSF General Scholarship: Tsechu Dolma

Tsechu is a second-year law student at Seattle University, where she is co-president of Middle Eastern South Asian Law Student Association and the co-president of the Public Interest Law Foundation. Post-law school she intends to engage in policy advocacy for migrants' rights.

ABAWSSF General Scholarship: Erica Li

Erica Li is a 3L student at Gonzaga University School of Law. Having immigrated from China to the United States at the age of 10, her passion for supporting immigrants was kindled by her personal journey of overcoming language barriers and adapting to a new country. Throughout her academic journey, she has actively volunteered for the API community, providing assistance to immigrant students and organizing cultural heritage events, including Lunar New Year celebrations. During law school, Erica has consistently supported attorneys and clients as a volunteer at the Chinese Information and Services Center (CISC) legal clinic, and she has further advanced the API community's interests by serving as the ABAW student representative and presiding as the president of the Multicultural Law Caucus. Following graduation, Erica envisions a career filled with active involvement in the ABAW and continued service to the API community.

ABAWSSF General Scholarship: Tiana Pereira

Tiana is a third-year law student at Seattle University School of Law, set to graduate in May 2024. Her passion lies in litigation and direct client representation, and she is committed to fighting for the rights of all people. Before law school, she worked as a Registered Behavioral Technician, addressing the needs of students on the autism spectrum, which motivated her decision to pursue a legal career to tackle broader systemic issues in education. 

During law school, she gained practical experience through various internships. She has presented legal rights information to youth at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, worked on health care law matters including safe and accessible abortion care at Seattle Children's Hospital, and served clients and appeared in criminal hearings with her Rule 9 License. 

Beyond her studies, she is involved on campus as the Secretary of the Moot Court Board, Vice President of Social Relations for the Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Co-Founder and President of the Pacific Islander Law Student Association.  She was also honored as one of the 25 Law Students who Soar during the 2022–23 school year. Tiana’s multifaceted background and experiences have prepared her to make a significant impact in the legal profession, and she is eager to embark on this fulfilling journey as she prepares to graduate and serve as an advocate for justice and equality.

Spring Blossom Fellowship: Arren Hernandez

Arren is a 3L at the University of Washington School of Law. At UW, he served as the Vice-President of Community Outreach & Events for the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA).

Here are a few words from Arren:

I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone at the Asian Bar Association of Washington and the Asian Bar Association Student Scholarship Foundation for making it possible for students interested in public interest to pursue practice fields that may have been previously inaccessible. The Spring Blossom Fellowship is a wonderful opportunity that has helped students support themselves while doing work that is vital to the community. I am grateful for the opportunity awarded to me by ABAW, Hon. Lorraine Lee, and John Felleisen and hope to continue to do work that helps the communities I am a part of.

This summer I had the pleasure of serving the community of my home state of California and working at the Los Angeles County Public Defender as a Certified Law Clerk. As with any Public Defender's office, the LA County Public Defender represents low-income individuals in criminal court. With the crisis of mass incarceration, which disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color, the work of a Public Defender is a vital service offered to those caught up in our criminal justice system. LA County is one of the biggest and most diverse counties in all of the United States with over 9 million residents. An estimated 33% of the total population of LA are people who have immigrated to the U.S., meaning immigrants are a central part of the LA community. 

Incarceration is not only a detriment to the incarcerated individual but to their family and to the community they are a part of. This is even more true for those whose immigration status is less straightforward. Undocumented individuals face the risk of deportation not only threatening their own well-being but the well-being of their family and their community. That is why I believe the work of public defenders is so vital as to mitigate some of the harm directed towards those that society has turned their back on.

 At the LA County Public Defender’s office, I had the opportunity to work directly with clients and represent them in court. Many of our clients struggled with issues such as homelessness, substance abuse, and poverty and it was frustrating to see them being detained instead of receiving the care they needed. I am a firm believer in rehabilitation and I believe that putting people in prison does not help them deal with the underlying issues that led to them being arrested in the first place. It is good to see that some cities and counties are beginning to embrace a more restorative justice approach, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Our criminal justice system is not perfect and that can lead to some devastating consequences for some of our most vulnerable community members. Many of the root causes of mass incarceration are systemic issues, not solved by putting people behind bars. If we want change, we need to practice empathy and patience with those going through our criminal justice system. Without this, nothing can change. 

-       Arren Hernandez 


ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation Scholarship

Application Information



The Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation (“ABAWSSF”) provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships to students of Asian heritage currently pursuing a J.D. degree at law schools in the State of Washington.  For 2023, ABAWSSF will award five scholarships in the following amounts:

  •        Yamashita Scholarship - $7,500
  •        Sharon A. Sakamoto President’s Scholarship - $5,000
  •        ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500
  •        ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500
  •        ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500

The Yamashita Scholarship is named after Takuji Yamashita (1874–1959).  Mr. Yamashita was born in Japan and emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.  He graduated from Tacoma High School in two years, graduated with a law degree from the University of Washington as a part of its second-ever graduating class, and passed the state bar exam. However, in processing his bar application, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a decision that Mr. Yamashita was not eligible to be an American citizen and, therefore, could not practice law.  This decision was overturned, posthumously, nearly 100 years later on March 1, 2001.

The Sharon A. Sakamoto President's Scholarship is named after Sharon Sakamoto, ABAW’s first President (and one if its founders) in 1988.  In law school, Ms. Sakamoto was a part of the legal team for Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American convicted of civil disobedience during World War II. Ms. Sakamoto is now retired, but her prior law practice at Aoki Sakamoto Grant emphasized justice and equality and meeting the needs of clients in the areas of business, estate planning, immigration, and criminal defense. In addition to being active in local and minority bar associations, she has served on the board of Kawabe Memorial House and many other organizations.

Application Process and Requirements

To be eligible for a scholarship, you must be a law student of Asian heritage, currently enrolled in a law school in the State of Washington, and pursuing a J.D. degree.  The following materials are required to apply for the scholarships:

  • 1)      A copy of your résumé;
  • 2)      Evidence of your current enrollment at an American Bar Association accredited law school in the State of Washington (acceptable evidence includes an unofficial law school transcript or, for first year law students, a class schedule provided by the law school);
  • 3)      A personal statement, no longer than 1,000 words, describing your contributions to the Asian Pacific Islander (“API”) community and your plans to continue contributing to the API community following graduation from law school; and
  • 4)      Two (2) references (their name, relationship to you, email, and phone number).

All application materials must be e-mailed to scholarship@abaw.org no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, October 6, 2023. Applications must be in either .PDF or Microsoft Word format.

Candidates in consideration for the next phase of the scholarship process will be contacted on Monday, October 9, 2023, to schedule an interview.  Interviews are currently scheduled to be held on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, by video conference and will last no more than 20 minutes each. 

The recipients of the 2023 ABAWSSF Scholarships will be notified on Friday, October 13, 2023.  A formal announcement of the selected recipients will be made on a later date through the Asian Bar Association of Washington (“ABAW”) newsletter and website.  In preparation for the announcement, scholarship recipients may be required to work with ABAWSSF to record a short video introducing themselves and briefly describing what the scholarship means to them, along with their plans to contribute to the API community in the future. By applying for a scholarship, an applicant agrees to provide such video and to permit the ABAWSSF and/or ABAW to publish any and all information contained in the applicant’s application materials.

Please direct any questions to ABAW Scholarship Co-Chairs, Madi Uekawa (madisyn.uekawa@klgates.com) and William Wu (williamwu@dwt.com).

*ABAWSSF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change the number of scholarships awarded, the dollar amount of each scholarship, and/or to not award any scholarships in 2023.

*Please note that past scholarship recipients and immediate family members of current ABAWSSF and ABAW voting board members are ineligible for a 2023 ABAWSSF Scholarship.

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