Scholarship co-founded by Pinay rapper Ruby Ibarra seeks to uplift, provide opportunities for Filipina college students

The Pinays Rising Scholarship, a program created by rapper and scientist Ruby Ibarra, and San Francisco State professor and founder of Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP) Dr. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, was originally founded in 2018 to promote the continuation of higher education while excelling in the areas of arts (visual, performance/music, conceptual, etc.) and/or community service and activism. | Photo courtesy of Pinays Rising

Deadline to apply for ‘Pinays Rising’ scholarship for the 2021-2022 school year is July 15

AMONG Filipino American families, higher education is non-negotiable.

Regardless of generation, attending college and earning a degree is a key step in establishing stable legacies as part of the American Dream.

But for the last few decades, as students are all too familiar with, college is wildly expensive in America. The cost of tuition, books, transportation, housing and all the essentials needed for a comfortable and secure college life adds up exponentially, leading many to seek financial aid and scholarships.

One scholarship called Pinays Rising is specifically designed to boost Filipinas seeking higher education, particularly those pursuing the arts and community service and activism. Created by Filipina American rapper and activist Ruby Ibarra and San Francisco State University professor Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales in 2018, Pinays Rising has so far given scholarships to more than a hundred “self-identified Filipinas.”

In 2020, the program raised more than $16,000 in donations in just a few weeks and was distributed to dozens of Filipinas pursuing different career paths ranging from medicine to community organizing.

“We’re hoping that you know we get people who are oftentimes not funded in academic scholarships, like people who are pursuing the arts or community organizers who want to create social change through whatever they decide to do in their life,” Tintiangco-Cubales told the Asian Journal in a recent phone interview.

In 2001, Tintiangco-Cubales previously founded the Pin@y Educational Partnerships, a Bay Area-based youth outreach and service-learning program that forges connections between the Filipino American community and its history in social justice through education.

Tintiangco-Cubales said that she and Ibarra — who is also Bay Area-based — had gotten to know each other over the years through their activism within the Filipino American community. Ibarra asked Tintiangco-Cubales if she wanted to develop a scholarship specifically for Filipinas, and Pinays Rising was born.

“This was all Ruby’s idea!” Tintiangco-Cubales said. “The whole intention behind it was that she wanted to find people who were interested in the arts. I included elements of activism and we had a discussion about really trying to provide support to these students.”

Pinays Rising is open to all Filipinas who will be attending a college or university full time for the 2021-2022 academic year. Unlike many scholarship programs, Pinays Rising does not have age limits or GPA requirements, two requirements that Tintiangco-Cubales believes shouldn’t be hindrances to academic accessibility.

“I actually don’t think GPA tells us a lot about a person’s intelligence, or their willingness to serve the community,” she explained. “So I feel like that is not an indicator for us on whether or not a person is going to be successful in the world. And so we didn’t include it.”

Although there is a focus on the arts and community service, the program is open to Filipinas who are pursuing any major or career path from science and medicine to journalism and social work.

“I think what’s important is that our program gives recognition of what it means to be a Pinay scholar activist,” she said, noting that neither art nor activism are mutually exclusive from other career paths. “That becomes acknowledged and valued and they feel like they can pursue activism even if they decide to become a nurse, doctor, lawyer or educator — you can still be an artist, you can still be an activist for the community.”

Rooted in social justice and the desire to elevate “scholar activists,” Pinays Rising is highlighting a special scholarship, the Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon scholarship to those pursuing degrees in history.

Named after the late Filipina academic whose foundational work in Filipino American history set the standard for “scholar activists,” the Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon scholarship was established to continue Mabalon’s legacy in telling the stories of Filipino Americans that color so much of the country’s history in civil rights and social justice.

“That’s a big focus this year for us because we are noticing more and more that we don’t have as many professional historians in our community,” Tintiangco-Cubales noted. “Dawn really brought our stories and really did the work to research about our community. She was able to be at the forefront of telling our stories because our stories are often marginalized and are not reflected in history books or taught at school.”

She added, “We really need trained and professional historians who know how to use particular methods to get our stories out into the world. We need history to be able to figure out how things have changed and how we can continue serving the community.”

The deadline to apply for the Pinays Rising scholarship is Thursday, July 15.

Klarize Medenilla

Klarize Medenilla is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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