Manoa, HAWAII - A local Taiwanese cultural group awarded scholarships on Tuesday night to 15 recent public high school graduates. The Taiwanese Association of America-Hawaii Chapter selected the students from 12 Oahu high schools who showed a combination of academic achievement, leadership, and community service.

The students are:

Bernadette E. Dela Cruz- Farrington High School
Kiaia P. Yee Hoy- Campbell High School
Sky D. Berry-Weiss, Rebecca J. Watkins, Kiana S. Voigt- Kahuku High School
Madison K. Charles- Kailua High School
Liza Corotan- Kaimuki High School
Daniel W. Huang, Ryan K. Leon Bracamontes- Kalani High School
Jolie J. Ching- Kaiser High School
Ee Er Liu- McKinley High School
Kamalani A. Nagahama- Pearl City High School
Jessa C. Dela Cruz- Moanalua High School
Kanani Diamond- Nanakuli High School
Justin HM. Wong- Roosevelt High School

Taiwanese Association Community Scholarship chairperson Joanne Houng backgrounded, "It’s open to students of all ethnicities. We had 60 applicants this year, but only 15 winners, each winning $1,000."

Additionally, TACS honored Naomi Yuen-Schat of Maryknoll School and Isabelle Bauer of Punahou School with a Youth Graduation Scholarship Award. TACS is supported by TAA.

An audience of over 500 people at UH Manoa's Kennedy Theater honored the students' achievements. Island News anchor Diane Ako emceed the event, which was attended by community leaders such as the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council commissioner Dr. Nip and Dr. Lai; Hawaii Hakka Association president Jane Lin; Global Federation of Chinese Business Women president Li May Tang; Filipino Chamber president Gina Nakamura; and Korean Chamber president. Vanessa Kop.

This year's Na Hoku Hanohano winner for Instrumental Album of the Year, Tsun-Hui Hung, PhD, the first Taiwanese to win a Na Hoku and the first musician to integrate Chinese music with Hawaiian music, was also present - and recognized for her musical achievement.

The group was then treated to a free cultural performance by Formosa Circus Art Troupe, which tours North America to promote Taiwanese culture. The troupe's show is a combination of acrobatics, gymnastics, modern dance, with some singing. It's a bit Cirque du Soleil meets Broadway, with mind-boggling, gravity-defying artistry set against a theme of Taiwan's history and culture.

"Our goal is not only to bring back the nostalgic memories to the current generations, but also introduce it to our children so that they know their roots. We also want the local community know that that TAA cares about and contributes to Hawaii," says TAA President Charles Huang.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office director general Michael Tseng explains, "This event is timed to happen during the yearly North America Taiwanese Heritage Week. TAA is a non-profit which promotes Taiwanese culture, strengthens its democratic identities overseas, connects overseas Taiwanese, and reaches out to Taiwanese students studying abroad."

More on TAA at More on the Hawaii Chapter on Facebook: Taiwanese Association of America Hawaii Chapter.