This Saturday, the University of Toledo invites students and community members to experience their own diversity in a whole
new way at the annual Winter Scholarship Gala.
The gala will be hosted by the Filipino American Association (FAA), Jan. 21 at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium and is free to the public.
The FAA is a student organization at the University of Toledo that promotes Filipino culture on campus. The gala’s purpose is to provide three scholarships worth $500 each to deserving members of FAA.
The committee will choose three recipients from a pool of over 20 applicants whom they think have the most potential to become future leaders, not just in FAA but leaders in life. The three chosen recipients will be announced during the gala.
Since this will be the first year that more than one member is being awarded a scholarship, FAA will not only be celebrating the winners but also how far they have come as an organization. Shirley Yee, secretary of FAA, said the gala will include everything from cultural performances to authentic Filipino food.
“The gala will provide a lovely, family-like environment for students to experience,” Yee said.
Yee encourages community members to come out and attend the event to experience the culture through its food, performances and overall atmosphere.
Performances will also be held by outside members from other schools such as Wayne State and the University of Illinois. The performances will include singing, dancing and a piano-violin duet.
While the cultural aspect of the organization will be evident, the focus of the event will be to showcase the individual talents that the members have to offer. For this reason, the Gala is more of a student-driven event organized by all members of FAA.
“They have the opportunity to display their own talents and do what they want to see done on stage,” said Lauren Bahonsua, a second-year pre-pharmacy major.
Bahonsua, the event coordinator for the evening, will also have her own performance at the gala. Alongside Lauren Deza, an UT alumnus who graduated just last year, Bahonsua will sing the Filipino national anthem.
From choreographing dances to planning events, Bahonsua has come a long way. Since joining the organization last year, she has made new friends and is currently living with two members.
Bahonsua explained that the organization is very diverse within itself.
“You don’t have to be a Filipino to join the association. The executive board itself only has three people who are actually Filipino,” she said. “There are two Caucasians and a treasurer who’s Korean.”
Being a diverse organization, the FAA is constantly educating new members who have no knowledge of the Filipino culture at all.
“They even give back to us,” Bahonsua said. “When we teach them things about our culture, they give back and teach us things about their culture. It’s like one big melting pot, you know.”
Performer Grace Garcia is also very excited to celebrate the growth of the organization. The first-year pharmacy student will be performing a medley and modern hip-hop dance along with members Alex Nomichit, Laura Deza, Kayla Gray, Mikey Pasztor, Ralph Palad and Aileen Mendoza.
Garcia has been rehearsing since November and said she is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform since she loves to dance.
“It’s going to be a great show,” Garcia said. “Not only will you learn about the Filipino culture but also about UT in general.”
Garcia says that she is happy she got the chance to “experience her diversity” and encourages other UT students to attend the event and experience their own diversity as well.