Filipino American Students Encourage Franklin High Students to Earn Degrees

SEATTLE, Wash. — Encouraging Filipino American students at Seattle’s Franklin High
School to aspire to earn college degrees is the goal of a Washington State University student
pilot project to be held Tuesday, March 16, at the school.
According to WSU student Freedom Siyam, “Projekt Kuya” will involve student members of
WSU’s Filipino American interest fraternity, Omega Phi Omega Inc., and the university’s Filipino
American Student Association. Also taking part will be WSU alumni who are Franklin graduates.
A 1995 Franklin graduate, Siyam is a fraternity and association member.
With the assistance of Sonia Javidando and Erlinda Castro — Franklin Filipino Club advisers
and English as a second language teachers — the WSU students will interact with Franklin
Filipino American students. “If the pilot is successful, we hope to implement ‘Projekts’ in other
high schools with high numbers of Filipino Americans,” including the Seattle-Tacoma and
Bremerton-Silverdale areas, said Siyam. If there are future “Projekts,” he said, they might be
broadened to serve other Asian American Pacific Islanders or other students of color.
The Franklin event may include about 12 WSU students and up to 50 Franklin students.
“We will be there as role models to give personal testimonies about our experiences at college. A
large portion of the program will involve us answering questions from the Franklin students,” he
Siyam said Filipinos are the “fastest growing Asian American population and will soon
reach the three million population mark” in the United States. However, he said, their
“representation in higher learning is comparatively low. This is the result of a shortage of Filipino
American teachers or teachers sensitive to the Filipino American experience, who can encourage
and inspire young Filipino Americans to aspire to higher learning.”

Note to media: According to Freedom Siyam, the “Projekt” on March 16 at Franklin High is
tentatively scheduled to start at noon and run for about an hour and a half.