Andrew C. Yu and Loghman Fattahi, both high school students in Fairfax County, each won a $10,000 scholarship from the In Hope Freedom Rings Foundation. The awards were presented at an award dinner Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Farr House in Fairfax.
“They’re absolutely amazing,” said Margo Friedman, about the students. “Their stories were remarkable.” Friedman is president and founder of the In Hope Freedom Rings Foundation, now in its second year. Last year, the IHFR Foundation gave away one $10,000 scholarship.
Andrew C. Yu, senior at Lake Braddock Secondary School, won one of the scholarships Thursday night. "I really do believe this country is a place where you have to take all the opportunities you're given," Yu said. He arrived at the Farr House dressed in a tuxedo, as he had to leave early to act as concertmaster at Lake Braddock Orchestra’s Winter Concert. As concertmaster of the orchestra, president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, co-founder and vice president of the Medical Interest Club as well as being active in Student Government, the National Honor Society and three varsity sports, it would be hard to find an opportunity Yu has passed up. He participates in all these clubs while maintaining a 3.9 GPA.
“Andrew must be a master of time-management,” said Friedman while presenting his award.
Yu came to Virginia with his family six years ago from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, he found the strict schooling and firm rules stifling. He feels that it’s important for people to “focus on seizing the moment,” he said. “For me, freedom means all the opportunities I've had since coming to America six years ago.”
Loghman Fattahi, a South Lakes High School senior, also received a scholarship Thursday night. Fattahi grew up in Iran where he and his family faced oppression for being Kurds. There they made their living herding sheep in Northern Iran. When Fattahi was 8, his father was arrested because of his ethnicity and was “pretty much in the torture chamber for six and a half months,” Fattahi said. Still a young boy, Fattahi was left to lead the family and help his mother look after his three younger siblings.
AFTER EIGHT years in exile, Fattahi’s father finally escaped to Turkey, where he had his family smuggled across the border to meet him. The trip to Turkey took Fattahi, his mother, his two younger brothers and his younger sister 13 grueling days by foot.
Since coming to Virginia in 2004, Fattahi has achieved a 4.0 grade point average in the International Baccalaureate Program at South Lakes High School. “It was fantastic, it was terrific,” he said about winning the scholarship. He hopes to attend Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service next fall.
Yu hopes to study medicine at the University of Chicago next year, but admits he has “basically no idea” what he ultimately wants to do in college.
“Reading those applications, I think there's no way you could be dry-eyed — their stories are so poignant,” said Friedman. Each applicant for the IHFR Foundation Scholarship was judged on academics, community involvement, financial need and an essay concerning freedom. Applicants from 27 area High Schools were considered.
Next year, the IHFR Foundation hopes to grow even more and perhaps even expand out of the Fairfax area. Friedman hopes to hand out three or four scholarships next year. Sponsors of this year’s scholarship included Cardinal Plaza Shell, CouponsToGo.com, Crest Cleaners, F.W. Harris, M.S.S., Inc, Papa John’s, Skinner, Ossakow & Associates and Springfield Lorton Dental Group.