Mark Chung

As the internship application season arrives, the Association of Asian American Yale Alumni is once again offering the Tina E. Yeh Fellowship, which aims to encourage Yale students to get involved with Asian American community service. 

In 2000, Tina Yeh ’83 passed away in a plane crash along with her father and aunt. The Association of Asian American Yale Alumni, or AAAYA, renamed an ongoing fellowship that dates back to 1991 in her honor, and it is now funded by an endowment established by Yeh’s family and friends. Because so many internships in advocacy and nonprofit fields are unpaid, the Tina E. Yeh Fellowship hopes to provide funding so anyone can enter the field.

“We wanted to put [students who want to do advocacy work] on some equal footing with the students who started to do investment banking or marketing or other paid internships,” AAAYA co-founder Harry Chang ’84 said in an interview. “We didn’t want money to be the issue for not going into nonprofit work during the summer.” 

The fellowship’s endowment is currently worth around $150,000. This fellowship awards anywhere from one to three applicants up to $3,000 to work with a nonprofit organization that serves an Asian American community. The money can also be used to fund an independent project supervised by someone from a nonprofit organization. The fellowship is administered by the Asian Pacific Fund.

In a website full of remembrances of Yeh, messages describe her as “thoughtful,” “loving” and “bright.”  During her time at Yale, Yeh served as a floating counselor for the Asian American Students Association — a position equivalent to a peer liaison for the Asian American Cultural Center. 

“We were both so proud of Tina, of the person she had become, of the life that she had built, of the career she had established and of the friends she had surrounded herself with,” Yeh’s mother wrote on the website.

Grant Din, another one of the co-founders of the AAAYA, describes Yeh as someone who was “very, very friendly. … She had this very centered personality.”

Karmen Cheung ’13, chair of the Tina E. Yeh Fellowship Committee, said that in awarding the fellowship, the committee looks for applicants with a clear vision for what they want to achieve in the summer, as well as applicants who have chosen an organization that has a well-thought-out internship opportunity.

Cheung also said that recently, there have been around 10 applicants for the fellowship.

“We haven’t had as many applicants as we would like, so we definitely welcome students to apply,” Cheung said.

Previous winners include Jessica Trinh ’20, who worked with the Center for Asian Health Equity in Chicago. During her internship, Trinh focused on providing equitable health information to AAPI communities, creating infographics in multiple languages to spread awareness of diseases that could disproportionately impact those communities. 

Stella Xu ’22, another recipient of the fellowship, worked with the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco focusing on workers’ rights. Several other organizations that winners have worked with in the past include the Museum of Chinese in America, NY Asian Women’s Center, Sakhi for South Asian Women and Asian American Justice Center.

The deadline to submit all materials for this fellowship is April 12, 2022, and more information on how to apply can be found on the Tina E. Yeh Fellowship website.

Yeji Kim covers the AACC, La Casa and NACC. Originally from Ohio, she is a first-year in Berkeley College majoring in ethics, politics and economics and East Asian Studies.