Luna Ly – Senior, Westminster High School, Westminster, Colorado
By: Hannah Smythe, Alexander Hamilton Friends Association

Luna Ly, a student at Westminster High School has received the national Alexander Hamilton Citizenship Achievement Award for superior citizenship and achievement. Hamilton Awards are given annually by The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association of Seattle, Washington. Winners receive a scholarship, commemorative certificates, memorabilia, and acceptance into the extensive Hamilton Leaders Academy.

Ly is one of 35 students selected for the award. The purpose of the Hamilton Award is to recognize high school students for their academic, personal, service and entrepreneurial achievements. Winners are high-achieving, service-oriented, high school juniors with high financial need.

“The award was again very competitive. We received 423 applications from 46 states plus Puerto Rico. Winners represented 17 states,” said George T. Cox, founder and senior director of Hamilton Friends.

“Our goal is to identify young people who have set high standards for citizenship and achievement in their lives. We are very excited about Luna’s potential for future greatness. The Arvada community is lucky to have Luna as a resident,” concluded Cox. When Luna’s achievements are reviewed it is easy to see why the judges were so impressed.

“Luna has an unprecedented commitment to academic excellence and community service. Her kind and warm disposition brightens everything she is a part of,” says the teacher who facilitates speech and debate at Westminster High.

Ranking fourth among over 600 classmates, Ly maintains a 4.2 weighted GPA while taking challenging International Baccalaureate courses. Outside of her daily classes, Ly continues to learn and feed her intellectual curiosity. She is president of her school’s National Honor Society, founder of the Chinese Language and Culture Club, and a member of the Knowledge Bowl team.

“Since receiving this award, I have felt more prepared for college. Not only was I offered $500 to pay for college, but I also have a public affairs committee that has greatly helped many students in the program,” Ly said. “The recognition from Asian Avenue is almost overwhelming, but I do feel appreciative about it.”

Ly has excelled in speech and debate; she competed at the state level and was voted MVP two years in a row. She also loves languages and is working to become trilingual in English, Mandarin and Spanish.

She has spent over 250 hours on service activities. She is a senior member of the lion and dragon dance troupe through the Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center. She also volunteers at a neighborhood branch library as a homework tutor, an assistant for the children’s desk and a summer reading program assistant. In addition, she participates in the Youth Strengthening Youth Program, an intensive leadership-development experience for young people of Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage.

Leadership is certainly a key part of Ly’s high-school experience. She has been junior class president, president of the International Ambassadors Club, and a leader in the LINK program, which welcomes new students to Westminster High and helps them feel at home. In these positions, Ly often leads the charge on fundraisers. She is especially proud of Caroling for Cans, through which she and her fellow holiday carolers gathered over half a ton of canned food for the Colorado AIDS Project. Ly also was very active in organizing the 2010 Rocky Mountain Peace Jam, which benefited a Native American tribe in North Dakota.

Tough economic times in recent years have brought hardships to her family, but she cites this challenge as one that only makes her stronger. Although she will be the first in her family to attend any college, her ambition is to attend a top-tier university and major in molecular pharmacology.

“As a matter of fact, I have three credits for English already. I am glad and happy about that,” Ly said. “I feel amazing, well-rounded, appreciated, intelligent and recognized for receiving this award!”