Evelyn Chow has proven to be a real change maker, community builder, and advocate.
After graduating from Kalani High School and receiving the Jordan & Cara Odo Scholarship Foundation’s first scholarship, she went on to study at Seattle University and has instantly immersed herself in the community there.
Now, almost five years later, Evelyn has earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and two minors in Philosophy and Global African Studies.
She has also kept herself very busy outside of school.
Evelyn works in the Advocacy Department of a Seattle-based nonprofit called Real Change, a street newspaper focused on economic, social, and racial justice issues. She spends her days advancing the life stories and interests of vulnerable populations in the community.
Despite having to work during the coronavirus pandemic, Evelyn was gracious to respond to some of our questions. (See below.)
Evelyn is a true young leader. We are very proud of her!
Jordan Odo: How was your time at Seattle University?
Evelyn Chow: My time at Seattle University was very important for me to develop the social justice values that I hold today. Living and learning about sociology in a city as big and rapidly changing as Seattle was very formative for my education.
Besides going to class and studying, what activities were you involved in on campus?
I was elected into student government as an at-large representative my first and second years, after which I transitioned into serving as a student representative in other departments and administrative offices. In my junior year, I co-founded the Gender Justice Center on campus because a group of my peers and I realized there were no spaces that were serving the needs of transgender, non-binary, and women students on our campus. During our first year, we were recognized by Seattle University as the year's "Outstanding Organization" at the annual SU recognition dinner. I later served in the center continuing to do work on gender-inclusive policy development as well as community outreach.
What was the most fulfilling part of your college experience?
The most fulfilling part of my college experience was building relationships with people both on and off-campus, as well as learning more intentionally about the history and policies that shape our society and what can be done to improve them.
What are you up to these days?
These days, I am working full-time at a non-profit called Real Change (in the Advocacy Department). I work with local and municipal officials as well as folks who have experienced or are currently experiencing poverty and homelessness to promote policies and campaigns that serve their needs and, in concurrence, the needs of the residents of the city. Some examples of our successful campaigns have been securing funding for mobile pit stops (10 public bathrooms) in our city's budget, and most recently working with our County to provide low-barrier access to public transportation.
I have a part-time job as the Communications Director for a candidate for WA State House of Rep., Kirsten Harris-Talley. I've been developing my portfolio as a communications specialist in local grassroots campaigns and have been enjoying learning about the intricacies of governmental communication in this and past roles in communications.
Despite your busy schedule, how have you continued to incorporate community service into your life?
Community service is, arguably, the top priority in my life. Both in my career and outside of it, I am consistently plugged into many different community organizing efforts. Most recently, I'm part of organizing mutual aid networks in Seattle for folks who are being extremely impacted by COVID-19 financially and otherwise. This includes coordinating grocery dropoffs and organizing support for restaurants, especially in our Chinatown-International District area ,which have been experiencing a sharp decrease in sales due to the racist narratives perpetuated with the coronavirus.
What career are you interested in?
I'm currently in community organizing, and envision myself continuing to do work that serves people, especially folks who have been continuously wronged by our system. I am in the process of looking into grad programs. I've considered going to law school, but I am also really interested in getting a master's in urban/city planning.
It's a wrap! Our first Lilo Mentorship Program cohort is in the books.
On October 19th, our mentees presented on a community issue of their choice and discussed their personal and professional goals with their mentors, our Mentorship Committee, and a handful of guests, including UH Professor Constancio Paranal, life coach Cynthia Yamasaki, and attorneys Sergio Alcubilla and Jennifer Yamanuha.
It was so inspiring to hear how these up-and-coming leaders -- proud Kahauiki Village residents and Moanalua High School students -- want to help make Hawaii a better place by uplifting our homeless population, creating more affordable homes, and reducing plastic waste.
Our mentees received guidance from a group of generous and talented mentors, including David Saka (a realtor and former collegiate golfer), Julie Matsunaga (a registered nurse at the Kapiolani Medical Center), John Doyle (a cybersecurity professional with the Department of Defense), and Jojo Abuan (a paramedic with the City & County of Honolulu).
The Lilo Mentorship Program began in June 2019, with workshops on self-discovery, personal branding, and resume building at the offices of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, in downtown Honolulu. From July to October, the mentors and mentees met at Kahauiki Village to discuss their goals, build a resume, and collaborate on possible solutions for community issues.
The October 19th session was a end-cap celebration reception for the program. All of our mentors and guests left the session inspired by our mentees, who have faced so much adversity in their young lives.
Our foundation, with a matching donation from an anonymous donor, awarded the mentees' family a scholarship of $500, which will be used on the mentees' future education expenses.
Congrats to our mentees! Thank you to our mentors, guests, and continued supporters! We look forward to continuing our mission to empower future difference makers.
Yesterday was the deadline to apply for our 2019 Leadership Scholarship. Students had to submit a resume and personal statement and write an essay about an issue in their community that concerned them.
We received applications from 108 students representing dozens of public and private high schools on four islands. We are so impressed by what our next generation of Hawaii leaders are doing in the community.
We really wish we could award more than one scholarship this year, but our goal is to save up for an endowment that can provide scholarships to Hawaii students in perpetuity. Our Scholarship Committee will have the tough task of narrowing the applications to one scholarship recipient!
We will be announcing our scholarship recipient in May and recognizing the recipient at our Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday, June 15, 2019 (mark your calendars).
One of our core belief is that fundraising does not need to be boring. We spent this weekend with 24 of our old and new friends at a few Waikiki bars, raising money for scholarships.
Thank you to Malia and Paul, two of our outstanding Leadership Council members, who planned the event.
At the end of January, we published the qualifications, criteria, and application requirements for our 2019 Jordan & Cara Odo Leadership Scholarship. As the name of the scholarship makes evident, we are looking for a Hawaii high school senior who serves as a leader in his/her community. Applicants must submit their resume, personal statement, and essay.
To publicize the scholarship, we've reached out to college counselors at 70 public and private high schools and a few community organizations. We've also posted our scholarship on a few national scholarship databases.
Help us spread the word!
As a nonprofit, we rely on the talent, expertise, and dedication of our wonderful team of volunteers. Without them, we could not work to achieve our three goals of developing a sustainable scholarship endowment, recognizing the contributions of young leaders, and empowering future difference makers.
We are so happy that Trevor Baba, Karen Wong, and John Doyle have joined our team!
Trevor is a teacher at Radford High School, where he helps prepare students for college through the AVID program and develops leadership skills through his supervision of the student council. He graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor's in Education. He is also currently working on completing his Master's program in Educational Foundations.
Karen is a civil engineer at NAVFAC Hawaii, where she helps our service members of the U.S. Navy and Air Force by planning for and addressing facilities needs at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Prior to working at NAVFAC, she was a traffic engineer for Austin Tsutsumi & Associates. Originally from Tahiti, she graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering.
John is a Technical Director for the Department of Defense, supporting U.S. Pacific Command. Prior to his public service, he led technology services and IT operations at Farelogix Inc., a venture capital startup. He graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Engineering, and most recently from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with an Master's of Business Administration. John also serves on the Board of Directors for the Shidler Alumni Association.
Trevor and Karen will serve on our Scholarship Committee, alongside Cara Odo, Alysa Tomasa, Tanya Sasaoka, and Jon Alarcio. John will help roll out our youth development efforts through the Mentorship Committee.
Visit the Our Team page to see the whole team.
We held our second annual Scholarship Luncheon on June 12, 2016, at Dave & Buster's. Around 75 people, including last year's recipient, Evelyn Chow, helped us congratulate our Leadership Scholarship recipient, Crystal Cebedo.
Thank you for attending the event and continuing to support our efforts. Without our friends and family, we would not be able to award any scholarships.
Thank you to our awesome supporters! We had a blast at our "Homecoming Mash Up" karaoke event. Come join us next year!
We had a blast at the Foundation's Scholarship Fundraising Luncheon on May 24, 2015, at the First Hawaiian Center. Matt & Marc played great music! Munchiez by Sweet Pea Cafe provided us ono kalua pig and cabbage, adobo, and shoyu chicken, as well as their tasty candied bacon cookies and chocolate dipped fruits. Our guests also took a shot at going home with one of ten awesome items.
We also awarded our first ever scholarship to Evelyn Chow, a senior at Kalani High School. See her bio here.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this event successful!
We're so excited to get the ball rolling.
This month, we've completed the application for our scholarship. We're looking to award a $500 scholarship to a high school senior looking to attend college. We've also finalized the Alahoku Fellows program schedule and began recruiting participants, mentors, and experts.
In addition to starting these two initiatives, we've been involved in fundraising with iDcard sales.
Through all of this, we've watched how family, friends, and complete strangers supported our Foundation and its efforts. It's unbelievable. We're so grateful.