2020 Forward Leadership Program Overview

The 2020 Forward Leadership Program partnered with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) on a project opportunity focused on the 2020 U.S. Census. Nine scholars were selected and assigned into three teams to collaborate with one another along with the guidance of a mentor. This year’s project aimed to understand the importance of the Census and support accurate count of API communities and community of color


Each team was assigned four counties, where they were to conduct outreach and engage local non-profit agencies primarily serving API communities and people of color over the course of three and a half months. Their assignment was to encourage these agencies to actively promote and encourage their members or constituents to answer the Census survey.

Despite the tremendous challenges brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic, each team persevered and pursued innovative and unique outreach strategies. The project culminated in a final virtual presentation where each team reported their teamwork and outreach efforts to a panel of judges from the community and API board members. Each team presentation was evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to navigate power relationships
  • Ability to lead across cultures
  • Potential to become a strong and compassionate leader
  • Ability to lead through an equity lens

API Forward recognizes the following teams of scholars for their dedication and hard work. Congratulations!

2020 Forward Leadership Program Scholars

Alina is a passionately curious second year student at the University of Oregon working towards a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, exploring a concentration in Business Operations and Analytics. She is also pursing a Food Studies minor and hopes to apply this to the food industry of the business world. In her free time, she loves climbing, traveling, graphic design, and photography. Alina is apart of the UO Climbing team and Vietnamese Student Association Media Team, and hopes to study abroad in the next upcoming years.

Ania Ty was born in the Philippines, but her family immigrated to the United States when she was three years old. Despite growing up a world away from her homeland, her childhood was deeply entrenched in Filipino culture. Hands, not spoons and forks, were the primary utensils in her family. Ania’s mother would sing folk songs to her, interweaving Tagalog and English as her mother braided her hair every morning. As a child, Ania felt comfortable in Filipino culture, but upon entering university, she realized she needed to take a more active role in her community. It wasn’t enough to eat sinigang and sing karaoke – Ania wanted to be a true leader capable of creating tangible, necessary change. Her hope as a scholar in the API Forward Leadership Program she can serve the API community by listening to and amplifying valuable voices, unique experiences, and stories that often go untold but must be said.

Chivon Ou (pronouns: he/him/his) is a first-generation, Khmer-American and a freshman pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a Minor in Neuroscience at the University of Portland. Chivon grew up listening to stories from his family about the struggles they experienced during the Khmer Rouge regime and surviving as refugees. Chivon aspires to become a nurse to serve communities who are disproportionately affected by trauma. More specifically, Chivon is intersted in learning about the LGBTQ youth and the charlatan practice of conversion therapy, military servicemen/servicewomen, and survivors and/or refugees of war. Chivon is passionate about service and exploring the world; he dreams of someday working for NGOs like Doctors Without Borders as a nurse to serve war-torn regions. He hopes to learn more about the health systems of other countries in order to optimize the standards of healthcare models within his community.

Danica Gascon is a Filipino-American student pursuing to become an oncologist. Currently, Danica is a Sophomore at Portland State University majoring  in Biology (Pre-Med) with a minor in Business Administration. At PSU, Danica currently involved in the Kaibigan – Filipino American Student Association and serves as a student leader (Historian). Danica is also involved in other API organizations as well. Danica enjoys  playing the piano, percussion instruments, and drawing. As a Forward Leadership scholar she hopes to learn from this experience and connect with not only her Filpino culture, but wants to be able to connect with cultures as well.

Dawa Gyalpo is a junior studying Business Administration with a minor in Planning, Public Policy & Management at  the University of Oregon. She is a Tibetan-American born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is honored to be a part of the Forward Leadership Program and work with other API students in the community. Dawa is looking forward to share her experiences with others while also learning from her peers. Dawa is thankful for the opportunity as a scholar of the Forward Leadership program and connect with students and mentors in the community. 

Sean Wei is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Public Health Education with a focus on the Health Science on the Pre-Physicians occupational track. Sean is highly involved in the PSU community. Sean is the President of the PSU tennis club and coordinates practices weekly and competes in numerous tournaments through the NW. In addition, Sean is also part of  the PSU Rec Council, where he oversees 40+ other rec clubs at PSU. Sean is an active member of the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) and enjoys learning about the Vietnamese culture and meeting new people. Outside of school, Sean enjoys volunteering in the Oncology unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital. In between his busy schedule, Sean always strive to improve himself with different goals and to give back and improve his community.

Talianna K. Magofna is a 3rd year molecular biology student at Eastern Oregon University. She is originally from Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. Talianna comes from a multicultural background, with English being her 3rd language. She is a second generation college student pursuing a degree that will help her successfully enter the health/medicine field. She has spent many years volunteering at local agencies on her island and educating youth about the importance of the local marine ecosystems. Talianna’s primary interests and career goals have always involved biology. Since starting her undergrad journey, she has developed a new love for medicine and the healthcare industry. Talianna’s goal is to pursue a career that will serve her community and wants to attend college overseas. She intends on continuing her education to the highest degree so she can prepare herself to perform to the best of her abilities.

Tammy Tran, (she/ hers/ her pronouns) was born and raised in Portland Oregon and is a first generation student who is a transfer from PCC  and is majoring in Finance at Portland State University. Outside of school, Tammy is involved in multiple organizations and events in the Portland community. Tammy was the club coordinator for Passion Impact at PCC that focuses on volunteerism and hosting nonprofit fairs around campus. She is involved with APANO with the Annual Jade Night Market and Unity Through Diversity as a coordinator for the Multicultural event. Tammy is also active in Student Government and has organized lobbying at the State Capitol, registered students to vote, and participates in committees with staff and administrators. Tammy also held a position at PSU at the Women’s Resource Center as an Events and Outreach Coordinator to further her social justice skills. 

Yuman Ng was born in Hong Kong and is an ambitious McNair Scholar at Portland State University. He is completing a biology degree and working towards a MD/PhD program. Raised by a single immigrant mother, the importance of accessible healthcare was instilled in him when his parent was severely injured by a drunk driver before his 10th birthday. As a result of those experiences and ordeals, strives to advocate health care awareness and accessibility for all. Passionate about biomedical research to treat diseases and focusing on personal growth. Seeks to bridge cultural and communication gaps and works at the Cultural Resource Center at Portland State University. He enjoys cooking and hopes to one day cook well enough he can also enjoy eating his own cooking. 

Program Results

Alina Wei, Ania Ty, Tammy Tran (Left to Right)

$9,000 Scholarship for Team Meadowlark

A homage to the state bird, Team Meadowlark represented students from Oregon’s top state universities, Portland State University, Oregon State University and University of Oregon.

In their winning presentation, Alina Wei, Ania Ty and Tammy Tran showcased a strong team mission statement, meticulously conducted research, clear and intentional communication strategies, effective team dynamics and thoughtful analysis and learnings to take on this year’s project.

One of the judges praised the team and said, “Team Meadowlark showed great command and understanding of the project…The API community is going to benefit from their contribution but I would hope that they do not wait until their graduation. It would be awesome to see them engage and become young leaders now.” 

Dawa Gyalpo, Chivon Ou  (Left to Right)

$4,000 Scholarship for Team Census Koalas

Team Census Koalas faced unprecedented changes when working on their outreach to API Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).

On top of there being a few minority CBOs in their assigned counties, COVID-19 instantly altered the landscape of communication. Many of the target communities were unprepared to engage online and dealing with the new reality of a pandemic. The team found people were preoccupied and difficult to reach in such a turbulent time.

In spite of this, Team Census Koalas was able to identify key takeaways and opportunities to increase the connection between Oregon’s API CBOs. They suggested that the API community will need to find ways to catch up on online platforms and technology to operate competently in 2020 and beyond.

Danica Gascon, Sean Wei (Left to Right)

$2,000 Scholarship for Team Healthcare Professionals

Team Healthcare Professionals represent students from Portland State University pursuing a career in the healthcare industry.

Sean and Danica were presented with real-life challenges during their project, but the team pivoted and shared their strategies on outreach using social media as an efficient platform to share resources and info. The team worked through the pandemic by using COVID-19 as a way to relate to community members and develop dialogue.

One of the panel judges shared their support for the team: “Great learning experience and I hope it will prove dividends as they encounter other projects in their young adult lives.” API Forward commends Sean and Danica for their commitment and perseverance throughout their teamwork.