As the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) reflects on the 40th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, we are proud to announce Abigail Lee as the 2022 winner of this year’s AAJA Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship.
This scholarship awards $1,500 to a student journalist for an insightful essay related to Vincent Chin’s life, death and legacy and its relevance to today. The main questions: Could it happen again? How are Asian Americans one people? Protest or conform – when and how do you make a stand? And who was Lily Chin? Lee’s powerful, winning essay explores Vincent’s story through the perspective of his mother, Lily Chin.
“Receiving the Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship has lifted my financial burden as I pursue my journalism career,” Lee said. “On a personal level, the scholarship has affirmed my voice as a journalist and strengthened my bond with the AAPI community.”
Lee is a first-year journalism student at Emerson College. Originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, she is the Assistant Enterprise News Editor at the student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon, as well as a staff writer for Emertainment Monthly. During her time at Emerson, she has covered the historic mayoral election of Michelle Wu, faculty and staff union contract negotiations, and students’ fight against increased tuition.
Lee also interns at DigBoston where she reports on arts and entertainment in the Greater Boston area. She is passionate about producing engaging cultural coverage and creating better relationships between media and marginalized communities. You can learn more about Lee on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and her online portfolio.
As our way of commemorating this tragic but important milestone in American history, we are also launching a fundraiser for the scholarship fund to support future student journalists, from June 19 to the end of the month, June 30.
Lee’s essay and other past essays submitted for the Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship are available to read on our blog, AAJA Defined. We hope to celebrate their work, show how the scholarship has impacted their lives and most importantly, keep Vincent Chin’s legacy alive and thriving as we reflect on the memory and legacy of the Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship.
“It is important to commemorate Vincent Chin because his life and legacy must be firmly planted in our collective memory as the AAPI community,” Lee said. “It is an act of resistance to demand that this tragedy is not forgotten and therefore, not repeated. Vincent Chin is part of our history, which should never be erased.”
For many recipients of the scholarship, including 2018 recipient Kitty Hu and 2015 recipient Aneri Pattani, this was how they first connected with the AAJA community and first engaged with AAPI journalists.
“It was incredible to be in a room full of journalists from across Asia and the Asian American diaspora and I remember just feeling so moved by the number of people open to mentoring and supporting me as I began my career,” Hu said.
Pattani received the scholarship early in her college career. “It was among the first of many times that AAJA supported and encouraged my dreams of becoming a journalist, and showed me that there was a community rooting for my success,” she said.
Pattani says she believes that commemorating Vincent Chin is vital in the context of anti-AAPI violence and in community-building within the AAPI community.
“After the uptick in anti-Asian American violence we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s important to commemorate Vincent Chin to understand that this hatred is not new and that it takes constant work to fight back,” Pattani said. “But it is also important to commemorate Vincent Chin because it reminds us of the power and strength of the pan-Asian community. It reminds us of what brings us together and what we can accomplish when we choose to support one another.”
This scholarship was originally funded by Joe Grimm, a former newsroom recruiter and staff development editor for the Detroit Free Press. Embarrassed and shamed by the killing of Vincent Chin, Grimm’s friendship with AAJA helped him decide to elevate a story he wanted to hide. Journalism teaches that it is only through learning, even when it is painful, that we can become better, more purposeful people.
“So often, we feel powerless in the face of tragedies that make us angry or sad,” Grimm said. We don’t want to be powerless. We want to fight back. Here, AAJA is providing a way to stand up to racism and hate.”
Hu echoes Grimm’s sentiment, and believes that learning about Asian diasporic and American histories like Vincent Chin’s murder allows us to move forward.
“In a time of rising violence and hate against all our communities, we, as Asians/Asian Americans, must remember that our work continues in solidarity with all other communities of the global majority, which has to be reflected in our media and storytelling as well,” she said.
If you would like to donate to the Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship fund, we are accepting funds at the link here. We appreciate any and all support.
About AAJA’s Scholarships
AAJA annually offers up to $20,000 in scholarships and grants to journalism students to help offset the costs of education, internships, living expenses and other opportunities. These scholarships are made possible by supporters such as AAJA members, allies and generous donors. We’d like to thank our judging team for the Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship: Allen Peng, Lloyd Alaban and Ashley Nguyen. To learn more about AAJA scholarships or donate, visit https://www.aaja.org/news-and-resources/scholarships-internships/.