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South End teenagers earn college scholarships

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  July 25, 2013 02:40 PM

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Three college-bound South End residents will have help buying books and other needed supplies thanks to scholarships from the Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association.

David Castillo and Jeffrey Liang each received $1,000 for academic achievement and community service, and Aaron Young received $2,500 as the first winner of the Andrew Parthum Award for Service.

The three students will be able to use the money to purchase books, computers, study guides, and other educational supplies.

In their applications, the students shared their experiences growing up in the South End, their hopes for the community, and what they plan to study in college.

Castillo, who attended Boston Arts Academy, said living in the South End has taught him to embrace differences and diversity.

“South End’s commitment to embrace diversity, culture and the arts has become a commitment that I, myself, uphold,” wrote Castillo, who plans to study acting at Boston University. “I am an artist that aspires to travel and learn about what different cultures value because, in my opinion, the only way to embrace diversity is to aim for universality.”

Castillo worked as a teen assistant at City Stage Company’s afterschool program at the Blackstone Elementary School, served as treasurer for his school’s student government, and served on the Boston Student Advisory Council.

He hopes to earn a master’s degree in education so he can share his passions and interests with others.

“One of my goals in life is to be able unite people from different racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds by using a universal language, art,” Castillo wrote. “I can teach musical theatre to passionate high school students who do not have the means of obtaining a high-quality arts education.”

Liang also praised the South End’s diversity.

“I am so fortunate to have been brought up in the South End because the diverse community allowed for an easier transition from a purely Asian culture to an Asian-America culture,” Liang, a Boston Latin School student, wrote in his scholarship application. “Growing up an Asian-American has proved to be an amazing privilege. I am able to draw from the traditional values of my parents, as well as harness strong qualities from the American culture.

Liang’s parents were born in China and both began working as children to help support their families.

Liang, who plans to study languages and environmental sciences at College of the Holy Cross, said his parents’ experiences have taught him the importance of education and inspired him to help other students by volunteering at the Kwong Kow Chinese School.

“As the head teacher assistant, I used this opportunity to share the experiences I have harnessed from my parents,” he wrote. “I consistently go back to this school to show the kids how valuable it is to have an education.”

Liang was also a Wolfpack Volunteer at Boston Latin and captain of the wrestling team.

Aaron Young, a Josiah Quincy Upper School student planning to study computer science at the University of New Hampshire, received the neighborhood association’s inaugural Andrew Parthum Award for Service.

The award is named after the association’s former president who established the scholarship program. Students applying for the scholarship had to demonstrate how they have made the South End a better place.

Young is a volunteer for Operation Snowsports, a Youth Enrichment Services program that helps low-income families gain access to snow sports. The program by provided children with equipment, lift tickets, transportation and lessons so they could ski or snowboard.

“I was opening doors for people that didn’t have anything to do or limiting the need to join gangs or doing something bad,” Young wrote. “I was giving more hands to the program that helps the community in so many different ways. Also, the best part of it all, I was showing families the great opportunity that YES offered to low-income families, an opportunity I didn’t have as a child.”

The scholarship winners and their families will celebrate with the neighborhood at a reception Thursday.

E-mail Kaiser at For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit’s Your Town homepage.

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