Meet Our 2021 Scholars
Moe123 is proud to introduce you to our 2021 Moe123 Scholars. Entering their senior year of high school following one of the most difficult and collectively challenging times in recent history, these students have their eyes on the future and the ways they can bring forth change to make sure that the future is a brighter one with more opportunities and resources for all to succeed. Representing Park Center Senior High, Osseo Senior High, and Maple Grove Senior High, these scholars embody the values of Moe123 through their passion for and dedication to service in the community. They are eager to bring their strengths and to utilize their talents in the world, beginning by continuing their education. Get to know our scholars and learn why we are honored to award them with our 2021 Moe123 Scholarships.
KAJ TUG LEE
Kaj Tug Lee became a published author during her freshman year of high school after a cultural essay she wrote was selected to be published as one of the most engaging stories voted upon by the student population. Writing was an outlet that spoke the words that Kaj could not say. Through stories, she could reclaim traumatic experiences and explore cultural indifferences without outside pressure to write anything beside her truth. She would write about discrimination - not just her own, but the discrimination of her peers; she wrote about her love for her culture and of recipes she held dear. She wanted to share her voice. And so she did. She received another publication, but her words also caught community leaders’ eyes within the Hmong community. Hmong activist and artist Tou Saik Lee had read one of Kaj’s poems and scouted her to work on a cultural arts preservation program, the program’s purpose to provide Hmong children a space to appreciate their culture through performing arts. Eventually, she was tasked with approaching the House of Representatives with a financial support plan for the project, named Koom Tes Kawm Txuj Ci or Unified Creative Learning, in collaboration with Data-Initiatives for Artist Leadership (DIAL). Then she used her voice. Kaj sees her work as far from over: she serves as president of Asian Club and plans to use her platform as an Asian-American social advocate to support her political aspirations to create an inclusive community for Asian communities.
Sophia Blashack has always had a passion for expanding her knowledge. From learning to tie her shoes as a child to joining the dance team in junior high, she discovered that she had a passion for setting and completing goals. She let that power her passion into setting goals like attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and becoming captain of her studio dance team during her sophomore year. As the youngest on the team, she learned a great deal from leading, while also learning how to balance the negative factors of judgment. During this time, Sophia became increasingly interested in psychology and the benefits of tracing thoughts and behavior patterns. With plentiful experience with kids through babysitting, Sophia connected her love for psychology with her passion for children and discovered that she wanted to pursue child development and children’s mental health to help support nurturing environments to help children grow and learn the skills necessary for future happiness. This inspired Sophia to work with a friend to start the Bring Change to Mind Club at the end of their sophomore year with the sole purpose of stopping the stigma surrounding mental health. Experiencing her own setbacks in early 2020 from becoming benched from the varsity jazz dance team and experiencing burnout and lack of direction, Sophia turned inward to regain her sense of self. During these difficult months, she realized how much she’d taken for granted when it came to her passions. As she approaches the final months of her senior year, Sophia is more convicted than ever to pursue her dream of becoming a child/school psychologist so she can help children experience a nurturing learning career from a young age.
Christina Corniea met significant challenges early in her school journey as she went through kindergarten, first grade, and second grade without speaking to her teachers, friends, classmates, or any strangers. Christina didn’t speak to anyone unless she had complete trust in them. She felt locked in a shell, waiting for it to break free without knowing how to crack it open herself. Eventually, she embraced two keys: trust and passion. Once she felt comfortable in that trust, the sky became the limit. She began to challenge the negative, intrusive thoughts in her mind helping her to succeed in tennis, earning an all-conference honorable mention and achieving academic goals like earning a 4.0 GPA in high school all while taking HP, AP, dual enrollment, and PSEO classes. In addition, Christina strengthened her confidence as a Girl Scout, earning the Girl Scout Silver Award at the end of middle school after leading a project that raised non-perishable food items for those in need to spread awareness of the hunger problem within her community. She reflects that once she learned to trust those around her, she broke out of her shell, empowering her to help others and be someone they can trust in return. She aspires to pursue her business degree within the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business and Management, eager to put her passion for mathematics and drive to determine solutions to work.
To Minh Tong, the idea of “tomorrow’ is something that he’s looked forward to for years: a day when he could work to be a better person, to earn a degree, to become independent, and repay his parents for all they’ve done for him. A first-generation college student, Minh knows the importance and feels the magnitude of his parents’ sacrifices as Vietnamese immigrants who have experienced war, sadness, and poverty. He didn’t take those factors lightly and began to change his attitude and approach toward his education. He changed his mindset from “I have to do this” to “I get to do this” which reframed education as an opportunity. Minh challenged himself and became a heavy presence in the classroom, welcoming the chance to discuss things and grow, even if the growth was uncomfortable or made him look “foolish.” As a hyper-curious person, this fueled Minh’s drive in the classroom and in life where he’s balancing the demands of his IB classes, extracurriculars, and other commitments. Minh knows he has the drive to ascend heights unimagined; in fact, he has the record to prove it.
Matia Solomon believes the person she is today is fostered as a result of her work ethic and the desire she has to make use of the opportunities she’s been afforded. She believes her success is not personal; instead, she sees it as a method for her to lend a hand to those who didn’t receive the opportunities she did. She has moved past simply thinking of giving back as “helping the poor” or “donating to those who need it.” Instead, she unpacks the perception of what “the poor” or “the people who need it” look like and believes that neither are objective qualifications for lending a hand. Everyone she encounters should be able to receive some sort of kindness, compassion, and service. It’s in this way she hopes to use her knowledge to help others. In addition to helping her fellow classmates, she felt compelled to volunteer more than 200 hours at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota to offer service to mankind. Matia plans to bridge her knowledge base and call to support others as a doctor. She sees her path as more than a career, but a way to uplift souls in every corner of the planet.
Alanna Worrall learned the meaning of “advocate” early in her life. She is no stranger to hospitals, doctors, and treatments. Because of her experiences, Alanna created Feel Better Baskets to share the feelings of safety, security, and of simply being a kid that meant so much to her throughout her own journey. Over the past 13 years, Alanna has provided 1,500 Feel Better Baskets and has raised over $15,000 to help support diversion therapy tactics for the Child Life Department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her passion for learning and desire to give back have only grown. Alanna plans to attend Minnesota State University Mankato to complete her bachelor’s degree in alcohol and drug studies on her way to obtain her Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) credentials in Minnesota. Her studies will give her a broad background in emergency health services and a deep understanding of drug and alcohol addiction that, when combined with her empathy for the patient experience, will make her a strong physician in the future.
Charley Sawicky was named after her father who deployed to serve in the Iraqi War six months after she was born. She’s proud to carry his name because she says it’s taught her the value of hard work, believing in something, and most importantly, believing in yourself. Charley learned to skate almost as soon as she learned how to walk and has been on the ice ever since, starting her official career playing on a boys hockey team when she was five. With something to prove in a male-dominated sport, Charley focused on her coaches’ advice and self-improvement - to set the example. Her parents set a strong example of what it meant to serve others and Charley has carried that with her. She began to volunteer at Saint Therese of Oxbow Lake Nursing Home in seventh grade which led to additional volunteer opportunities within her church teaching Sunday School and, eventually, beginning as a coach with her sister’s U6 hockey team. Seeing the kids on her team master skills serves as her why and as much as she loves their journeys on the ice, she shares that her favorite part of volunteering is the moments in the middle of the lobby at the rink when she hears her name and sees someone run up to her for a huge. In those moments, she knows she’s made a difference in someone’s life.
Jenna Moseng believes that we grow when we are called to rise to challenges. She’s experienced that first-hand in the obstacles she faced as a young grade schooler. Elementary school was difficult for Jenna due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It made reading a chore and activities like sitting down to read a constant struggle. This translated into a total lack of interest in reading. Jenna’s struggle with focus, her restlessness, and trouble comprehending made it difficult to grasp the curriculum for other subjects as well. Jenna’s parents enrolled her with LearningRx, an organization that offers a variety of programs to help with cognitive weaknesses including ADHD and reading comprehension. Training her brain for up to 90 minutes after a full day of school began to wear on Jenna, but she held tight to her family’s encouragement and inner strength as she realized that finishing the program was the best option to overcome the challenges that were having a negative impact on her life. Her grades began to improve, she was able to pay more attention in class, and her improvements gave her more self-confidence. Encouraged to volunteer from an early age, Jenna has participated in Korean Culture Camp as a camp counselor, volunteered as a Kidstop classroom supervisor, and at Hope Lodge which offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay as they receive treatment far from home. These experiences coupled with the challenges she’s overcome has taught Jenna that sometimes, the most important gift you can give to someone is to listen. She’s combined that with her passion for people to excel in Taekwondo where she has earned her second-degree black belt and competed with athletes from all over the world, has become an instructor, and was accepted into college before starting her senior year of high school.