Pictured above 2021 Loprinzi recipient Abdiaziz Hussein (center) with Loprinzi Scholarship recipients, Javondre Cole (left) and Tori Lopez (right).
Each spring, students from 29 Portland-area high schools apply for the Loprinzi Scholarship, one of seven scholarships administered by the Multnomah Athletic Foundation. This $8,000 scholarship is awarded to three high school seniors who embrace the spirit of Joe Loprinzi, an athletics enthusiast and longtime MAC employee who positively impacted the lives of so many individuals. Meet this year’s recipients:
Satisfaction in Success:
Student athlete brings community together through determination.
Community comes first for Loprinzi scholarship recipient Zhixin Wu, who goes by Cecilia. When her mother and many other Mandarin-speaking workers in Portland were laid off at the onset of the pandemic, Wu took action to help. She guided family and friends through the process of filing for unemployment benefits and receiving assistance from the government. When she realized the extent to which those with limited English-language proficiency struggled with the forms, she founded a translation service called “Genoploy.” Soon, she had assembled a team of bilingual peers to provide assis- tance to immigrants impacted by business closures.
Although helping others comes easily, Wu’s mastery of English was hard-earned. She grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese at home and, at school, her classmates commented on her struggles with a second language. Wu was motivated by the criticism to study for hours on end. By the time she entered Franklin High School, she was enrolled in advanced courses, and she received the highest possible score on her AP English exam.
In addition to her rigorous studies, Wu has also honed her skills on the golf course. Her involvement with the sport, which she once believed to be the domain of a very different demographic, served to remind her to try new things and not form limiting assumptions. She has become more comfortable using a trial-and-error approach through her practice and finds applications for her critical thinking abilities as she considers how wind, weather, and the landscape affect her drives. The best part, Wu says, is the particularly satisfying “bing” sound that accompanies a well-struck shot.
Wu will be a first-generation college student when she begins her studies at Stanford University this fall. She plans to enroll in business classes with the dream of creating a social enterprise. Wu knows that, in time, she will be able to apply what she has learned to improve her community and find solutions to our most pressing challenges.
Hurdles Never Hinder:
Track star preservers and excels in all fields.
Abdiaziz Hussein has achieved academic and athletic excellence despite extraor- dinary adversity and the hurdles of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally from Somalia, he spent much of his childhood at a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating with his family to Texas in 2009. In Dallas, he struggled to fit in at his new school and acclimate to a new way of life.
After moving to Portland, Hussein developed an interest in running and joined the track team at Benson High School during his freshman year. His commitment to training intensified following a transfer to Roosevelt High School and. he ran twice daily regardless of the conditions outside. As he found acceptance within the cross-country and track community, he surpassed many of his peers and competed in high-level races including a state championship.
When races were suspended due to COVID, Hussein continued to train and run 65-75 miles each week. He says he has broken many of his school’s cross-country records on his own, but he has been unable to compete against other athletes in more than a year. Even though he experienced disruptions to life at school, he maintained a 3.54 GPA and completed AP and college-level coursework.
Hussein is quick to point out that running requires mental discipline and focus as much as physical strength and stamina. He credits his former coach, a school psychologist, for helping him break through his own mental barriers around competitive running and regain the confidence to perform at his best. His interest in learning about this mental “edge” led him to enroll at the University of Oregon as a psychology major.
Hussein has worked hard to realize his continuing education plans, but family support and scholarship assistance will not completely cover the cost of tuition and housing. The Loprinzi scholarship will help him to close the financial gap and pursue his passions at the next level.
Defining Your Destiny:
Social justice shapes this student athlete dream for the future.
Ellycia Adams is no stranger to struggle — overcoming a difficult family dynamic and homelessness to become a first-generation college student. From a young age she knew college was in her future, even if she didn’t necessarily know what she wanted to do when she “grew up.” Throughout her career at McDaniel High School, she held a 3.5 GPA while participating in basket- ball and soccer as well acting as a student leader in the Restorative Justice Club, which significantly shaped her high school experience.
After joining the club as a freshman year, her eyes were opened to the criminal justice system and motivated her to enroll in Western Oregon University’s Criminal Justice program this fall. Adams believes that she can continue to make a difference without using violence to seek justice, especially when she thinks about the conflicts in her life that could have been solved in a more peaceful manner. Her goal is to become an FBI agent with the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and believes this career is the perfect mix of a solving mysteries, being challenged, and helping her community.
Although going to college has been a life-long dream and is one of her greatest accomplishments, it will be bittersweet for Adams to leave home. She is very family oriented and the idea of leaving her mom and four siblings weighs heavily, although it makes the transition a little easier knowing she is a role-model to her younger siblings. Adams knows this is her opportunity to motivate them and continue rewriting their family story.
Hardships have been a theme through- out Adams’ story, but she refuses to let them define her. Instead, it strengthens her mentally and has better prepared her for the next chapter. It seems like nothing was going to get in the way of Adams pursuing a degree, but now with the Loprinzi scholarship program in her corner, her life is moving in a definitively positive direction.
Each of these remarkable individuals exemplifies the spirit of Joe Loprinzi with their desire, determination, dedication, and discipline. Fund possibilities and scholarships with a contribution to make dreams take flight. Visit our donate page or or contact MAF’s Executive Director at Lisa @ MultnomahAthleticFoundation.com.
Written by Brian Donkersley and Chris Morales, MAF Communication Committee members
Originally published in the October 2021 Issue of The Winged M magazine.