Milken Scholars’ Lifelong Spirit of Service

Published 11/13/2023 in Alumni Features, Program Updates
Written 11/13/2023

"I believe it is important to volunteer one's time, knowledge, and resources to give back to one's community and to causes greater than oneself. Volunteerism is the recognition that we are all privileged in our own ways and that we always have the capacity to lend a helping hand to causes and individuals in need." -Oliver Sitt, MS ‘11

Across the country, Milken Scholars carry the Program’s spirit of service as they invest in ways to improve communities and make a difference in the lives of future generations. This year, Alumni Scholars led the organization of various activities as they came together to volunteer at a beach cleanup, share college financial aid resources, and review students’ personal statements for college applications. 

For Coastal Cleanup Day 2023, Milken Scholars joined more than 7,000 Heal the Bay Volunteers to help remove over 15,000 pounds of trash from beaches throughout Los Angeles County! Esteban Flores, MS ‘19, loved the experience and said, “I've never participated in an environmental cleanup before, and Heal the Bay made it so easy to get started! I only collected a small portion of trash, but I know that the impact of thousands of volunteers who do what they can in this effort will become undeniable.”

The Saturday’s beach cleanup also gave Alumni the opportunity to reconnect. Oliver Sitt, MS ‘11, said, “Not only was it fulfilling to be part of a great cause, it was also great to be part of a community effort and spend quality time with my fellow Milken Scholars and their families.”

To support college access amongst underrepresented youth, Alumni led college workshops focused on financial aid and essay writing. In D.C., Ekram Jiru, MS ‘14, partnered with the African Diaspora College Access Program to discuss financial aid resources for college with 89 high school seniors and their parents. Ekram said, “It was great to conduct the workshop for the third year in a row and give the students and their parents tips on how to navigate a crucial aspect of the college process. I found the experience to be really rewarding and am encouraged by the students’ eager engagement.”

In Los Angeles, Angelina Calderon, MS ‘06, hosted a Senior College Essay Review Workshop with Bright Star Schools, where high school seniors met with volunteers and received input on their personal statement. In New York, Kim Foo Chow, MS ‘96, gathered Scholar volunteers for the annual College Essay Workshop with high school seniors at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School. Thirty-four years later, the Program continues to visit the campus of the inaugural class of Milken Scholars as they help graduating seniors perfect their personal statements taking them one step closer to their college dreams.

“From meeting with both Milken Scholars in their first year at college to Scholars teaching for years at the college level, the high school students experienced diverse feedback on how to make an impression. Each year, I return to adapt the essay sessions to the changing needs of the students, humbled each time by what stays the same - the Scholars continue to show such empathy for students reaching out to those that understand what they are going through,” said Kim Foo Chow, MS ‘96.

Scholars not only use their time and energy to excel in their professions and academic fields, but also to serve local communities. If you are an Alumnus who is interested in passing along this spirit of service and organizing a volunteer event in your community, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Milken Scholars network in your area or email Senior Director, Evelyn Torres,