HomeFilipino AmericanHow a top Filipino American student won $25,000

How a top Filipino American student won $25,000

By Rachel Lu

When Ella Mayor, a senior at Santa Susana High School in Simi Valley, CA learned about the National Honors Society Scholarship through her school’s chapter of NHS, she encouraged everyone in the club to apply. Of course, she did as well.

Mayor was volunteering at a blood drive when she received the email that she had been selected as one of the finalists of the scholarship, with an invitation to attend a trip to Washington D.C.

Coming from a small public school in Simi Valley where few students have been recognized nationally, Mayor had little expectation for the trip. So when it was announced at the gala that Mayor had won all $25,000 for the scholarship, she broke down in tears. 

“And I remember my principal came up to me and she was crying too, because it means so much to my school and my family as well,” said Mayor. “Winning something this large, like I couldn’t even comprehend, like how much help it would be for my family and how much recognition it will be for my school.”

Mayor is named the winner of the 2024 National Honor Society Scholarship, selected among a pool of nearly 17,000 applicants.

How did she do it? For Mayor, it’s her passion for service driven by her background as a first generation Filipino American. Both of Mayor’s parents were born and raised in the Philippines and later arrived in the U.S where Mayor was born. 

Mayor learned that her mom grew up in the Bicol Region of the Philippines, where access to resources like health care is extremely limited.

“So it’s that juxtaposition between US healthcare versus health care in other third world countries across the world that made me realize where my passion lies, to help other people gain access to those resources and help fight for their rights and their power,” said Mayor. “They deserve the same health care that we have in the US and, you know, no one deserves to be in a position where they can’t provide adequate surgery or adequate medical treatment for their family members.”

Mayor brings this passion to her school and community in Simi Valley. At Santa Susana High School, Mayor joined the school’s chapter of NHS, which is the largest community service club at the school. 

Ella Mayor poses with her National Honor Society trophy
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

The NHS chapter collaborates with the nonprofit, Forever Fund, to donate clothing to trafficked children in India, Thailand, and Ethiopia. As president of the club her junior year, Mayor organized a drive that was able to donate 500 pounds of clothing. 

Currently, Mayor is the Chief Medical Officer of the Ventura County Medical Explorer Foundation, a non-profit that helps implement mobile vaccine clinics in underserved areas. 

After winning the scholarship, Mayor is especially grateful for Karen Hazlewood, the advisor of STEM for Girls at her high school, an organization that has helped Mayor hone her passion in science and medicine as a girl. Hazlewood is equally proud of Mayor and her accomplishments.

“Ella is an exceptional student, demonstrating unparalleled academic excellence, leadership, and dedication to community service,” Hazelwood told AsAmNews. “Her insatiable curiosity, critical thinking skills, and compassionate nature set her apart, allowing her to excel in various endeavors.”

All of this is only the start for Mayor, who will continue her commitment to community health in the future. Mayor said she hopes to work in underserved countries like the Philippines, with the end goal of becoming a doctor in the communities that need healthcare the most.

“For me, I’ve always had that innate drive and passion to help underserved communities because of my background as being a Filipino, first generation Filipino American,” Mayor said. “I want other people to also harness that same idea. If they have an inclination towards helping people in a specific field, they should follow that passion and never let anything else get in the way of that.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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