Six Extraordinary New York High School Seniors Announced as Milken Scholars Class of 2019

Published 05/16/2019 in Program Updates
Written 05/16/2019




Six Extraordinary New York High School Seniors Announced as Milken Scholars Class of 2019


Contact: Lynne Russo: (818) 903-6079 (cell);

Unique Scholarship Provides a $10,000 Cash Prize Plus a Lifetime of Mentoring and Resources

SANTA MONICA, Calif., (May 16, 2019)—The Milken Scholars, a joint initiative of the Milken Institute and the Milken Family Foundation, has chosen six talented students from New York City for its 2019 scholarship program after a rigorous nomination, application and interview process. Open to college-bound high school seniors in New York City, Los Angeles County and Washington, D.C., Milken Scholars are selected based on academic performance, community service, leadership and their ability to persevere in the face of personal challenges.

 “The Milken Scholars Program provides a lifelong network and resources of over 450 past honorees,” said Phyllis and Sidney Bresler, sponsors of the New York City Scholars, along with the Robert I Schattner Foundation. “Despite significant obstacles, these extraordinary students continue to not only persevere, but shine, and we look forward to seeing what their bright futures will hold.”

 The 2019 New York Milken Scholars are: 

  • Sarah Deonarain, Townsend Harris High School (Harvard)
  • Miyu Imai, Horace Mann School (Harvard and Berklee College of Music)
  • Hanah Jun, Stuyvesant High School (Yale)
  • Lizi Maziashvili, Fort Hamilton High School (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Summer Shabana, Stuyvesant High School (Rice University)
  • Andy Wang, Staten Island Technical High School (Boston University)


Mike and Lori Milken founded the Milken Scholars Program to promote and assist young people as they navigate the transitions from high school to college and from college to graduate school or the world of work. Recipients receive a $10,000 scholarship, but more importantly they gain a lifelong support system that includes ongoing career-related counseling, assistance in securing internships, opportunities for community service, and a fund to assist their pursuit of post-undergraduate career goals.

 “In the nearly three decades since Lori and I cofounded the Milken Scholars program, these leaders of tomorrow have consistently inspired us by their achievements, leadership and dedication to service,” said Milken Institute Chairman Mike Milken. “This year’s class of outstanding New York Scholars is no exception. In welcoming them to the Milken Scholars family, we are confident they can change the world.”

 The New York Milken Scholars will attend a four-day summit from July 26-29 in Los Angeles with over 100 Scholars including new recipients, undergraduates and alumni facilitators. The New York City Scholars are:

 Deonarain Sarah

Sarah Deonarain


Sarah Deonarain, a senior at New York City’s Townsend Harris High School, loves debate and public speaking. When she discovered that the school’s chapter of the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) had been defunct for nearly a decade, she researched the benefits of debate practice, prepared a presentation and convinced school leadership to revive it. Now the president, Sarah has competed with her peers in NSDA events, Poetry Out Loud, and the Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Competition. Sarah also led the Science Olympiad team to a record seventh place in the state and earning individual city and state honors in Parasitology.

An AP Scholar with Honor, Sarah has received awards in the American Classical League’s National Greek Exam and earned state honors in math, science, English, language and music. She has been recognized by the Arista and Archon National Honor Societies. The concertmaster of the school wind ensemble, Sarah has played at Carnegie Hall and on WQXR, New York’s classical music radio station. As Overall Director of S!NG, a musical theater competition among the grades at Townsend Harris, Sarah wrote original scripts and directed actors, singers, dancers and musicians in annual performances. The editor of the Phoenix, the student literary magazine, Sarah critiques submissions, produces webzines and organizes film screenings.

As an intern for New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Sarah publicized events, organized tree-planting projects, worked on issues of community concern, and organized a celebration for Asian American Heritage Month. She tutors students of all ages at the public library, organizes workshops for English language learners, and helps adults whose English language skills are limited complete paperwork for their jobs or children’s schools.

Sarah will study government at Harvard and plans a career in law, diplomacy or politics.


Imai Miyu

Miyu Imai

Harvard and Berklee College of Music

For Miyu Imai, a senior at Horace Mann School in the Bronx, music means more than just notes, rhythm and hours in a practice room—it’s a way to forge connections with her community. An accomplished violinist who has studied in the Juilliard School’s Pre-College division since age 10, Miyu is a founding member and concertmaster of the Manhattan String Ensemble, Metropolitan String Ensemble and World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra, groups which perform in retirement homes, hospitals and public spaces around New York City. At Juilliard, she has studied not only her instrument but music history, music theory, ear training, chamber music, choir, conducting and performance psychology. Miyu earned the New Horizons Fellowship—a full scholarship to the prestigious Aspen Music Festival—and won the grand prize in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and National League of Performing Arts competitions.

Equally committed to academics, Miyu competes on Horace Mann’s Chemistry Olympiad and Science Olympiad; the team made it to the state-level competition and Miyu earned a gold medal. She has studied karate for 14 years and won silver medals at the Kyojushin Karate Tournament.

Born in Japan, Miyu moved to the U.S. with her family when she started kindergarten. A decade ago, she started writing Miyu-Nikki, a Japanese-language blog in which she details her American educational experiences in daily entries. The blog was originally meant to keep her grandparents in Japan up to date on her faraway life in the U.S., but its audience has expanded. Miyu now has readers from all over Japan who follow her daily stories about her life in America.

Miyu will pursue a broad range of studies, including biomedical engineering and music, in a dual degree program at Harvard and Berklee College of Music. She plans a career in music or regenerative medicine.

 Jun Hanah

Hanah Jun


Last year, Hanah Jun observed something amiss with the girls’ varsity volleyball team at New York City’s Stuyvesant High School. Instead of supporting each other and collaborating on the court, players often seemed jealous, competing for dominance within their own ranks. Predictably, the team’s performance was suffering. Hanah worked with the coach to model new values: caring, working together, and celebrating every success. Now the co-captain, Hanah motivates and energizes her teammates, especially the rookies. Under Hanah’s leadership, the team won the New York City PSAL championship for the first time in Stuyvesant’s history and prevailed at the Seward Park Tournament for the first time in over a decade.

Hanah is a QuestBridge National College Match Finalist and College Prep Scholar, National Merit Scholarship Finalist and AP Scholar. She received the New York Times College Scholarship and the President's Volunteer Service Award. With the Arista Honor Society, Hanah tutors peers and serves at soup kitchens and city festivals. A two-time class president, she created the Alumni Access program to connect students with graduates and organizes major student events such as Senior Prom and the Graduation Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. An avid musician, Hanah leads the band for SING!, a student-run schoolwide musical theater competition, and was first chair flautist in the NYC All-City High School Concert Band. She is founder and president of the Stuy Instrumental Club, arranging music for the school’s annual student showcase, and initiated a citywide project for high school musicians to spread classical music on New York City streets.

Outside of school, Hanah has worked in a day spa call center and as a dental assistant. She is researching the relationship between environmental policy and political turmoil in an internship at the United Nations with Nawaf Althari, a U.N. counterterrorism specialist.

Hanah will concentrate on environmental studies and economics at Yale and plans a career as an entrepreneur.

 Maziashvili Lizi

Lizi Maziashvili

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lizi Maziashvili’s fascination with technology led her to coding when she was a sophomore at Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton High School. By the time she discovered Girls Who Code (GWC), it was too late to apply to the group’s summer program. Undeterred, Lizi and a friend founded the school’s first GWC chapter and asked a math teacher to advise. Now the group’s co-president, Lizi learns CSS coding, JavaScript and HTML at weekly meetings and hosts “Hour of Code” events to promote interest in STEM fields. Last summer Lizi spent four weeks at the Women’s Technology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, studying computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics.

A native of the country of Georgia who came to the U.S. more than a decade ago, Lizi will graduate as Fort Hamilton High’s valedictorian and is an AP Scholar with Honor. She plans community service events as vice president of both the National Honor Society and the Red Cross Club. Lizi serves as chief operating officer of her school’s Make a Difference Club, which staffs a local church soup kitchen and raises money for charity. In the School Leadership Program, Lizi supports teachers, publicizes school events and sells tickets at football games and performances. She helps fellow students with physics and competes on the school swim team.

Lizi represented Fort Hamilton High on New York City’s New Visions Student Advisory, a board that includes students from schools across the city. Lizi’s group researched ways for teachers to talk about current events in the classroom. They gathered data from teachers and students through a Google form and created a slide presentation to discuss their findings with students, teachers and principals.

Lizi will study biomedical engineering at MIT and plans a career in medicine or engineering.

 Summer Shabana 2 26 24

Summer Shabana

Rice University

Summer Shabana is a warrior for educational equity. As a founder and president of StuyPrep, she brings together students and alumni from New York City’s Stuyvesant High School to help middle schoolers from underrepresented neighborhoods navigate the entrance exam for the city’s specialized high schools. Summer and her team prepare lessons, homework and practice tests on math, logic and reading comprehension, bridging the gap between students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds and addressing the lack of diversity in New York City’s elite public high schools. Summer also founded Stuy SAT Prep, offering weekly lessons to 40 underprivileged Stuyvesant students. As homeroom leader for Big Sibs, Summer mentors ninth-graders to help them adjust to high school, both socially and academically.

Summer is a Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Scholar, AP Scholar, QuestBridge National College Match Recipient, Jack Kent Cooke College Scholar, Dell Scholarship semifinalist, Gates Scholarship semifinalist, Private Prep Scholar and National Merit Scholarship Commended Student. She is a member of the Arista National Honor Society and Spanish Honors Society and has earned bronze and silver medals on the National Spanish Examination. Summer is principal violist for the Opportunity Music Project Honors Orchestra and the American Youth Orchestra; both groups perform in public spaces, libraries and hospitals throughout the city.

Since fifth grade, Summer has participated in the Lang Science Program at the American Museum of Natural History. She has researched the biodiversity of coliform in Black Rock Forest, explored the genetic variability of Atlantic killfish in New York waters after Hurricane Sandy, and developed an educational video game on microbiology and the influence of diet on mood and mental illness. Summer worked on the neurology ward at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Medical Center. At school she started a club to raise money for Operation Smile, which performs cleft lip and palate surgeries around the world.

Summer will study bioengineering and neuroscience at Rice University and plans a career in medicine.

 Wang Andy

Andy Wang

Boston University

As a student researcher at New York University’s Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) program, Andy Wang has taken a running leap into his STEM career. He performed experiments and observations as part of a project studying gene expression, focusing his research on DNA sequences that regulate protein production during cellular stress and presenting his findings at the ARISE Colloquium. Andy participated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Online Science Technology and Engineering Community (MOSTEC), exploring scientific writing, science and engineering online and at a conference at MIT.

A senior at New York’s Staten Island Technical High School (SITHS), Andy is a QuestBridge National College Match Finalist and College Prep Scholar, National Merit Semifinalist, AP Scholar with Distinction and member of the National Honor Society. The captain of his school’s cross-country and track teams, Andy led the team to a third-place finish in the city championship. He works to build a positive and disciplined team culture where athletes push their limits and look out for each other. Andy mentors younger students and has officiated at youth track meets as a volunteer for Catholic Youth Organization.

An experienced filmmaker, Andy recorded and directed school events and student performances with the SITHS Studio Crew, preserving his peers’ accomplishments and the school’s history. He produced videos and still images for small business clients at Tailwind International Corporation and edited videos for business improvement districts with Fifth Borough Media.

Determined to address the lack of clean air and water in underserved communities, Andy will study environmental science at Boston University and plans a career in environmental engineering and policy.


About the Milken Scholars

Michael and Lori Milken founded the Milken Scholars in 1989 to honor exceptional young men and women who have demonstrated the potential to make a profound difference in the world. Scholars are chosen while high school seniors on the basis of distinguished academic performance, school and community service, leadership, and evidence of having overcome personal and social obstacles. Milken Scholars receive financial assistance plus a strong support system of resources and networks during their academic and professional careers.

 As of 2019, more than 450 Milken Scholars have been selected from over 180 high schools in Los Angeles County, New York City and Washington, D.C. Milken Scholars embody a variety of ages, backgrounds, and academic and professional interests, and represent elite colleges and universities in the country. Twenty-five percent were born outside the United States and 75 percent have parents originating from 71 countries. Over half were the first in their family to attend college.

 Throughout their college careers, Scholars are in regular communication with Scholars staff and each other. They meet with Foundation staff and mentors during campus visits and special events, including an annual Summit that provides guidance and insights through speakers, panels and activities. These resources create a setting that propels these exceptional youth into a position where they can achieve their personal, academic and professional goals and, in the process, become lifelong leaders for a better world.

 For more information about the Milken Scholars Program, visit

# # #