OUTSTANDING ASIAN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES IN THE MADISON AREA
By Jonathan Gramling
DEFOREST HIGH SCHOOL
Blaipa Chang devoted her stay at DeForest High to academic excellence, the Hmong community and her faith community.
Blaipa honed her leadership skills as the secretary of the All School Asian Club. Her traditional Hmong dance group, Ohia
Seev, competed at the Hmong New Year. Blaipa also devoted a lot of her free time volunteering with her church, The Church of
the Latter Day Saints, at places like the Second Harvest and The River food pantries, Ronald McDonald House, Lacy Garden,
Brat Fest and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Blaipa earned high honor roll recognition. Blaipa’s commitment to her faith
and academics earned her a SOAR scholarship from Brigham Young University and a Brigham Young grant.
EAST HIGH SCHOOL
Tenzin Choekyi has had an eye on a health career as she strove for academic excellence at East High. Tenzin participated in
Health Occupations and Professions Exploration. She planned for college through AVID/TOPS and GEAR-UP. She was also
involved with the Tibet Club. Out in the community, Tenzin volunteered with St. Mary’s Hospital, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and
the UW Health East Clinic. She was also active with MSCR leaders in training, the Saturday Tibetan School and the Tibetan
Youth Association. Tenzin’s excellence won her a Service “E” pin, an honor cord and an El Circulo Español recognition. Tenzin
will be attending UW-Madison this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Laura Dinh has had her mind on STEM while taking her academic game to the next level at
East. Laura was active with Women of STEM, student congress and DECA. She competed in track & field and played with the
philharmonic orchestra. Laura also interned with Summit Credit Union and was a teacher’s assistant. Out in the community,
Laura was a STEM volunteer at Goodman Community Center and was active with the St. Peter’s Catholic Church youth group.
For her excellence, Laura is on the honor roll with distinction, an inductee into the World Language Society and was named an
Outstanding Young Person by the Urban League.
Laura Gratz has more than acted the part for academic excellence at East High. Laura performed theater with the
East Side Players. She also competed in softball and on the varsity swim team. While excelling in school, Laura also
worked part-time as a CNA. Laura will be studying criminal justice this fall at UW-Eau Claire.
Mohammad Haris Hayat has been an academic achiever no matter where he lives, just focused on the
academic prize. Mohammad began his high school career in Afghanistan where he competed in soccer
and helped raise funds for his mosque. As a Madison East Purgolder, Mohammad competed on the
swim team and the team was a sectional qualifier. He was also active in the International Club and
helped raise funds for the East Islamic Center of Madison. Mohammad graduates from East on the honor
roll with a 4.0 GPA. His family is moving to California where he will start the next chapter in his
Yuepeng Her has stayed close to his Hmong community as he ventured forth in the world of academics at East High. Yuepeng
competed in JV soccer, found support in the United Asian Club, sought equality through the Equity Leadership Council and
unwound through MSCR activities. In his free time, Yuepeng volunteered in the Hmong community or with other students. He
received a Service ‘E’ pin and will be attending UW-Milwaukee this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Palkyi Gurgon Kyap has given so much of herself as she attained academic
excellence at East High. Palkyi helped ESL students through Level-Up and underclassmen through link crew. She
prepared for college through AVID/TOPS and was involved in the Tibet Club. In her after school hours, Palkyi was a lead
volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital and volunteered at Brat Fest. Palkyi sat on the honor roll and earned a Service “E” pin,
an El Círcula Español pin and a CNA class pin. She earned a Rotary scholarship, which she will use to attend UW-
Madison this fall.
Dieu-Hien Le made sure that she was going on to higher education during her East High stay. Dieu-Hien
prepared for college life through the UW PEOPLE and AVID/TOPS programs. She helped out other students
through tutoring and link crew. She explored the health field through Health Occupation Students of America.
Dieu-Hien sat on the honor roll and received a Service “E” pin and a Rotary Scholarship. She will be studying
at UW-Madison this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Anthony Leauaxay has reached back and lifted someone forward as he had risen to the heights
of academic excellence at East High. Anthony has been active with Level Up, which works with underclassmen who are ESL
students to help them succeed. In the community, Anthony works at the north side Goodwill, which supports local services and
helps people in need who face obstacles. Anthony sits on the honor roll as he begins his higher education career at UW-Milwaukee.
A National Honor Society member, Tenzin Namgyal kept true to her roots as she prepared a path to higher education
at East High. Tenzin prepared for college through Upward Bound and the UW-Madison Information Technology
Academy. She was active in Tibet Club and Math Modeling where she won a Top 20% recognition. In her free time,
Tenzin was active in the Tibetan Cultural School and the Tibetan Youth Association. She enjoyed volunteering at
Boomerang’s. For her excellence, Tenzin earned an honor cord, Service “E” pin and a Rotary scholarship, which
she will use to attend UW-Madison this fall
Michael Thao has enjoyed the support of the Asian community as he has achieved academic excellence at
East High. Michael joined United Asian Club his freshman year and has been its co-chair. He competed on
the varsity volleyball team and was a part of the MSCR soulful production fashion show. Michael has been
very involved in his church’s praise and worship team and has played guitar, bass, drums and piano for the
band as well as sang. Michael will begin his higher education career at Madison College this fall.
Sandy Tinajero Ruiz has been headed for college due to her academic excellence at East High. Sandy is headed to college
through the AVID/TOPS program. She was active in the Latinx Student Union and Latino Dance. Sandy also competed in JV
soccer. She volunteered in the community through AVID/TOPS, LSU and East Side Community Service. She received an award
for having a GPA above 3.0. Sandy will begin her collegiate journey at Madison College before transferring to UW-Madison.
Kelsang Tsomo has had an eye on a health career as she has striven for academic excellence at East High. Kelsang
explored a health career through Health Occupations and Professions Exploration at East, volunteering at St. Mary’s
Hospital and a pre-college program, Wisconsin Youth Nursing, at UW-Oshkosh. Kelsang has prepared for college through
AVID/TOPS and GEAR-Up, competed on the tennis team and found support through the Tibetan Club. In her free time,
Kelsang has volunteered at the Deer Park Buddhist Center serving tea and snacks when they have prayer and during the
Tibetan New Year and other events. Kelsang has been celebrated for her perfect attendance. She received a Service E
pin and has received awards for academic excellence. Kelsang will begin her higher education career at Madison
College this fall.
Perched on the honor roll, Aliyah Vang devised a clear path to college during her East High career. Aliya
prepared for college through AVID/TOPS and received an academic achievement award from them. She
helped East celebrate the Hmong New Year several times, helped out with Freshmen Academy and was
active with the Tibetan Club. In the community, Aliyah volunteered with Madison’s Hmong New Year
celebration and at the East Madison Community Center. Her good attendance was recognized by the
school. Aliyah will begin her collegiate career at Madison College this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Pacheng Vang has been devoted to Hmong culture and academic excellence at East High.
Pacheng was involved in link crew and helped the school celebrate the Hmong New Year every year. Pacheng has been very
involved in her church, part of the 1st Counselor Laurel, a youth group, led some youth activities, led the church’s 2018 talent
show and helped for five years before that. Pacheng has also volunteered at Brat Fest and the Madison Hmong New Year. Pacheng
placed first in the Hmong Spelling Bee. Perched on the high honor roll with perfect attendance, Pacheng will continue her academic
journey at UW-Madison this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Erick Widyantara showed East High that hip hop is a world movement as he attained academic
excellence. Erick was active in hip hop movement and the break dancing club and performed with the band. Erick is a foreign
exchange student from Indonesia. In his free time, Erick attended St. Paul’s Church. And from the honor roll, Erick will be returning
Tenzin Woser paved the way to higher education with his involvement with college prep programs at East. Tenzin was
active with AVID/TOPS, UW PEOPLE and GEAR-UP, where he helped out with their meetings and celebrations. Tenzin
was also active with the Engineering Club. Out in the community, Tenzin was an avid volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital,
transporting patients and helping with cleaning. Tenzin’s volunteerism earned him a Service “E” pin and was placed
on East High’s and AVID/TOPS’ honor rolls. He will be attending UW-Madison this fall.
Linda Wu prepared her way to higher education at East High. Linda prepared for collegiate life through
Upward Bound. She worked in the school store, tutored other students and was active with United
Asians and equity leadership council. Linda helped out in her church during her free time. Linda has
been on the honor roll, received an honor cord and was recognized for her good attendance. Linda is
taking a breather from education before continuing her higher education journey.
Ker Xiong has given the creative touch to academic excellence at East High. Ker prepared for college through Upward Bound
while developing his creative side through Anime Club. His art work was featured in the Young at Art exhibit at MMoCA. Ker
hasn’t decided yet where he wants to study art and drawing.
While striving for academic excellence, Beeta Yang was involved with the United Asian Club, the equity
leadership council and MSCR. She enjoyed volunteering with the Hmong Language and Cultural Enrichment
Program, the Kennedy Heights Community Center’s food pantry and the United Asian Consortium. Beeta also
enjoyed playing in her church’s band. Beeta is undecided on where she will attend school next fall.
Leilah Yang got into the academic excellence rhythm at East High. Leilah was active with hip hop
movement and the United Asian Club. He also competed in boys’ volleyball. Leilah will be attending
Madison College this fall.
Mai Tong Yang set her sights on higher education during her East High career. Mai Tong prepared for collegiate life through
Upward Bound. She was also active in United Asian and the Tibet Club. Mai Tong’s excellence was recognized with an honor
cord and she was also recognized for her high GPA and good attendance. Mai Tong will attend UW-Madison in its pre-nursing
program this fall.
Mai Yia Yang got wired into higher education during her East High career. Mai Yia prepared for a collegiate career
through Upward Bound and the UW-Madison ITA. Mai Yia was a teacher’s assistant and was active with equity
leadership council, United Asians and MSCR volleyball. Mai Yai is headed to Madison College this fall.
Molly Yang has been headed to the collegiate level since she began her high school career. Molly has
been preparing for college through Upward Bound and the UW-Madison Information Technology
Academy. Molly has been active with United Asians and the Tibet Club. Molly will be studying at
UW-Madison this fall.
EDGEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
Perched on the high honor roll, Linxiu Zeng has reached the academic heights at Edgewood High with a 4.08 GPA. Linxiu earned this
by taking AP classes in calculus AB and BC, biology, English literature and composition, environmental science, chemistry and
statistics. She participated in Purdue University’s STAR Summer Camp and the Robot Rave Workshop in Beijing, China. Linxiu edited
the world map and coordinated a talent show for the Multicultural Club. In her free time, Linxiu enjoys playing piano for the Madison
Chinese Christian Church and helping a welfare house in Meizhou, China.
A member of the Edgewood Honor Society and one of its officers, Jayanne Adalin has filled her time at Edgewood with
meaningful life experiences while excelling academically. Jayanne has been president of Key Club and been active with
Close-Up, Multicultural Club, link crew and the inclusivity committee. She has served as a peer minister and did make-up
and costumes for the fall and spring theatrical productions. Jayanne is also part of Smile with the Community and the Book
Club. Out in the community, Jayanne has shared her time with Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest, Eager Readers and the
Catholic Multicultural Center. She created the project Helping Hands to distribute scarves, sandwiches and water to the
homeless on the Capitol Square. Jayanne also managed to work part-time first at Metro Market and then at Capitol Lakes
Retirement. She will be studying psychology at St. Norberts this fall.
Sophronia Brooks has made all the right moves to attain academic excellence at Edgewood High. Sophronia has been
involved in S.T.A.R., Powerpuff, and the Madison Professional Dance Center. She has also looked out for others
through Eager Readers, Motown Mission and an Appalachia service project. She has also been active with the First
United Methodist Church youth group. Sophronia will take up dance this fall at UW-Stevens Point.
Naeun Lee has been competitive in all phases of her high school career at Edgewood. Naeun
competed on the math team and won third place. She has taken physics and pre-calculus honors
courses and AP environmental science and statistics. She led meetings for the Multicultural Club
and was active with the Ski Club. In her spare time, Naeun volunteered at the Luke House meal
program and with Korean Madison Church.
Xuanyu Hong has held his academic serve at Edgewood High. Xuanyu enjoys playing badminton and video games in his free time. He is fluent in
Chinese and has volunteered with the Shenzhen Volunteer Organization. Xuanyu’s computer skills will serve him well as he studies for a degree in
civil engineering at Penn State University-Harrisburg this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Yian Le has stayed perched on the high honor roll while enjoying a sterling academic career at
Edgewood High. Yian has a cumulative GPA of 4.07 and scored 1410 on the SAT. She has taken AP courses in English, calculus
AB, physics C, environmental science and statistics. Yian has been active as a Multicultural Club leader and manager of the girls’
basketball team. She has also volunteered with the Madison Marathon. Yian will be studying at the University of Illinois-
Champaign/Urbana this fall.
Anna Mueller has earned her academic excellence at Edgewood through hard work and determination. She worked
at Miller’s Market and Walgreens before her present position at Sugar River Pizza. Anna has competed in volleyball
for nine years and was second team all-conference and all-state honorable mention. Anna has also enjoyed singing
with the choir, show choir and the Edgetones. She also helped out with make-up and costumes for a school play.
Anna has volunteered with the Madison Children’s Museum through the years. Anna received a Pere Marquette
Award, which will allow her to attend Marquette University this fall to study nursing.
Michelle Ta has kept academic excellence in focus as a budding entrepreneur during her Edgewood High career. Michelle is a self-
taught photographer and Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom graphic artist who established Michelle Ta Photography. She has
practiced her photography with the New Lazuli Non-Profit Modeling Cooperative, The Hub Collective, Max Goldberg Photos, Shoo
Shoe Company, and Ovrdsclo Clothing Brand, Loft, Lou & Grey women’s clothing brand. She enhanced her graphic artist skills with
Clouds of Creative and TGS Collective. At Edgewood, Michelle established the Photography Club, competed in the fine arts festival
and had her artwork published in the school’s yearbook and in Wayfarer. Michelle also found the time to write two articles for the
student newspaper during the past year. She earned college credit for a course through the Southern New Hampshire University,
Vermont Center for a trip to England in 2018. Michelle will be majoring in computer science and minoring in graphic design this fall