PCF Hall Scholarship Awarded to PUSD Senior

A young woman wearing a light pink sleeveless blouse stands outdoors in bright sunshine. She has her hands clasped behind her back and is smiling broadly. Tram Hoang-Le pictured in front of Marshall Fundamental High School, April 9, 2024.

Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF) is proud to announce Tram Hoang-Le as the inaugural recipient of the Taylor & Don Hall Scholarship, a PCF fund established in early 2024. Tram, a senior at Marshall Fundamental High School with a 4.35 GPA, has pursued rigorous, science-focused studies during high school to provide a strong foundation for her career goal of earning a PhD in pharmacology. Raised by hard-working immigrant parents, Tram will be the first in her family to attend university in the United States. She is planning on attending CSU Long Beach to study biochemistry.

The Hall Scholarship will provide Tram with $20,000, payable over four years. The Halls created the scholarship program at PCF to foster the academic pursuits of high-achieving local high school students with a strong interest in Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (iSTEM). The couple has been long-term supporters of PCF, and Don currently serves on PCF’s Investment Committee.

“We wanted to further a student’s education in the field of iSTEM, which encompasses the expertise needed to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and climate change,” says Don. “Thanks to its impressive roster of scholarship programs, we knew PCF held the experience and expertise to implement our scholarship plan. They were flexible and patient as our idea took shape and a total pleasure to work with. STEM students can change the world, and this scholarship can be a small part of that, a way to encourage their journeys.”

The Hall Scholarship is one of 20 scholarship funds that PCF holds. In 2023, these funds supported more than 150 local scholars. See the full list of scholarships here.

“Science as an Adventure”

Tram’s application stood out to the selection committee because of her exceptional academic record, evident iSTEM aptitude, and her commendable qualities of leadership, resilience, and commitment. She has already forged impressive opportunities for herself in the iSTEM field. Tram was one of 24 students selected last year for the Huntington Medical Research Institutes’ STEM internship program for high school students (see more about HMRI below). This program helps aspiring young scientists experience a research environment alongside top-level HMRI scientists. “I conducted research on a topic about acetaminophen and the neurological and physical effects of overdosage on the human body. With a week to prepare, I read medical documents and watched documentaries. I then presented my findings to doctors and the families of program interns.”

Tram remembers that “throughout my childhood, I played outside a lot pretending that I was a scientist, finding leaves and acorns to create ‘medicine.’ I also grew up with a big love for mystery novels, and in a way, I tied my interests in science and mystery together by viewing science as an adventure and a puzzle for me to solve.”

A young woman with long brown hair, wearing a pink sleeveless top, stands together with an older woman wearing a gray blazer and magenta scarf. They are standing outside a building and smiling at the camera.
Tram stands with Marshall Fundamental High School principal Lori Touloumian, April 9, 2024.

HMRI: Training the next generation of scientists

In 2023, Hall Scholarship recipient Tram Hoang-Le was selected as one of 24 local high school students to participate in the Huntington Medical Research Institutes’ (HMRI) Summer High School STEM Program for Pasadena Unified School District students. This program offers a unique opportunity to engage students from underserved areas in the pursuit of scientific learning. It encourages students to continue studying science as they complete high school with the hope that they might choose a related major in a community college or four-year college or university.

HMRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied medical research organization in Pasadena. It was founded in 1952 by a group of physicians and scientists who wanted to conduct laboratory and clinical work for the development of technology used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Since 1972, PCF has supported numerous initiatives at HMRI, awarding $570,378 in grant awards. In 2022, a PCF Capital Grant purchased 25 laptops for student participants in HMRI’s summer education programs. Read more about HMRI.

HMRI 2023 summer interns. Tram Hoang-Le is seated at the bottom far right in pink sweater.