By Nick Sestanovich
Aubrey Ilasco, a first-grader at Matthew Turner Elementary School, won first place for a letter she had written to Sen. Kamala Harris in the 2017 Growing Up Asian in America contest.The contest, put on by the San Francisco-based community foundation Asian Pacific Fund, is put on annually during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and has distributed more than half a million dollars in cash and prizes to its nearly 1,000 winners and honorable mention participants since it was established in 1995.
This year’s theme was “Letter to the Senator,” in which students at all grade levels wrote letters to Harris— the first Indian American and second African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate— about issues they believe the senator should address. Such topics included access to education, racial issues and the well-being of refugees.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important to engage students to examine and bring to light the issues that affect them and their communities,” Audrey Yamamoto, the president and executive director of the Asian Pacific Fund, said in a statement. “We are honored to provide an avenue for our youth— the leaders of tomorrow—to share their points of view and celebrate their heritage.”