How many of us have experienced firsthand how it feels to be turned down by a number? If we had only scored a 7.45 instead of a 7.39, we would have qualified for that school and taken that course we felt we needed to start that career we wanted; or maybe we lost that scholarship we couldn’t afford studying without. Competition is a wonderful thing when it inspires us and motivates us to recognize our potential and improve as human beings; but it isn’t so wonderful when it tears apart the dreams of gentle souls whose only goal is acquiring the education it takes to empower and contribute to others.
If only there was an organization that looked beyond the grade to see the person within… well, there is. For the past ten years The Young Professionals’ Group (YPG) has awarded 15 scholarships to high school seniors planning to further their education through a 4-year or 2-year College or a trade school. Many of these students have already started to make a difference in their various fields such as family, community, education, medicine, business and law. YPG is completely supported by volunteers and 100% of the donations and funds are used to maintain the scholarship program. Their primary goal is to encourage and empower young adults to realize their potential and pursue their DREAMS. With a unique awarding methodology that focuses on character and a student’s desire to make a positive impact, more than grade and accomplishments, YPG’s scholarship consists of a one-time monetary sum and a lifetime access to the YPG Adviser Network. With over 100 successful professionals in many industries worldwide, these Advisers ( the Hero Network) are available to students for private advice, guidance and support; this Adviser Network is more valuable to most students than any dollar amount.
The setting for the YPG 2nd Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser was a private house in Playa Del Rey with the most breath-taking views. Under the theme “DREAMS: Helping Students Achieve their Potential”, a selective group of supporters gathered around excellent food, drinks and music by DJ Mikey P and songwriter Emmett Spooner to meet the 15th scholarship recipient who is the first from Southern California– Crystal Dickens. She has just graduated from Eco Academy as the first one to be college bound both from her family and from her school. Passionate about writing and social work and interested in environmental sciences, she was the President of Generation Green while at Eco Academy.
Another scholarship recipient, Abby Misko, from Muskego, Wisconsin, was beneficiary in 2007 to study Biomedical Sciences and will graduate at Marquette University in 2011. Her goal is to obtain a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy and work with infants and young children. Abby was born with Moebius Syndrome, which is a rare disorder characterized by a lifetime of facial paralysis. Her own personal experience being under the care of many dedicated passionate doctors and her love for children have driven her to succeed. “Receiving the YPG’s scholarship has strongly impacted my life. It has helped me to have the opportunity to receive a strong education at Marquette University and get the advice from health care professionals from the Adviser Network. Among many other things, I have discovered new ways to study for specific classes that were challenging to me”. She is an example of inspiration and commitment.
Numerous priceless and special items were auctioned at the YPG fundraiser: dinner gift certificates, huge Plush animals, anti-aging therapy treatments, Kartell lamps, a silk wall hanging carpet from Kashmir, Dodger and Angel’s tickets, Vegas/Miami timeshares, a Paul Frank bike, several beautiful paintings from artist Michael Nauert, a Tony Hawk Skateboard, a Sonoma VIP Wine Experience and 2 luxury vacations to New Orleans and Costa Rica. Sponsorships from Eggy (newborn basket), Atrium Hotel (weekend suite), Canvas-on-demand, Gyenari (dinner certificates), Skin Beau (anti-aging treatment), Sikara Jewelry (two-stone ring), Jalda (Italian leather clutch), B&B Italia (kartell lamp). Major corporate sponsor was 20/20 Companies. Other sponsors donated their services: Beverly Hilton Aqua Spa (massage services), DG Event (photo booth), Effen Vodka, KoAmex (beer), Lighthouse Communications (walkie-talkies).
The organization has 2 chapters: SoCal, new this year; and in NY/NJ where the scholarship was originally started, and has plans to expand in other cities and countries. YPG was founded 10 years ago by So-Young Kang and CFA Charter holder Orton Chen, who graduated with a B.A. in Economics in 1995 at Rutgers University, with concentrations in Accounting and Finance. With the goal of pursuing a career on Wall Street, Orton obtained an M.B.A. in Finance from Rutgers in 1998. After working for a number of Wall Street firms such as PaineWebber, Wasserstein Perella Securities, Salomon Smith Barney, etc., Orton is now a Senior Analyst at Al Dhabi Investment in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
So-Young Kang’s interest in mentoring and tutoring started at a young age from teaching piano lessons in high school to tutoring international students while attending college, to teaching English to Japanese junior high school students in Chiba, just outside of Tokyo, Japan. International Relations and Japanese studies major at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) and MBA graduate at Harvard Business School, So-Young is Catalyst, Founder & Managing Partner of The Awaken Group, a global leadership development consulting firm in the US and Singapore.
The event raised $11,000 and they are planning a fundraiser in NY in April, 2011. Next event in LA is focused on bringing together professional artists to join our ‘Hero’ Network of Advisers.
For more information:
To get involved in the newly formed SoCal chapter, contact [email protected]
Photos courtesy of © Mark Sung Han