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2010 Outstanding American by Choice Recipients

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Dr. Samuel So

January 21, 2010
San Francisco, CA

Dr. Samuel So
Professor, Stanford University and Director, Liver Cancer Program at Stanford University
Stanford, California

In 1996, Dr. Samuel So founded the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, the first non-profit in the United States dedicated to fighting the disproportionately high prevalence of Hepatitis B and liver cancer in Asians and Asian Americans. Dr. So’s efforts in this area have extended to the national and international arenas. In December 2005, he collaborated with Congressmen Michael Honda (D-CA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) to introduce the National Hepatitis B Act. If enacted, the bill would allocate research funding for this disease. He also co-authored the 2010 Institute of Medicine report on “A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and C.”

Working with the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. So founded a new global initiative— the “Asia and Pacific Alliance to Eliminate Viral Hepatitis.” The Alliance works to eliminate new Hepatitis B infections, discriminatory practices, and to provide access to affordable treatment. The project aims that by 2015, all children under 15 in the Asia and Pacific region will receive Hepatitis B vaccinations for free. Dr. So is also the leader of the well-known Jade Ribbon Campaign, a national Hepatitis B awareness effort.  Additionally, he is a professor in the Department of Surgery and Director of the Liver Cancer Program at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. He became a naturalized citizen in 1998 with the hope of making a difference in people’s lives.

   

Stephan Ross

April 16, 2010
Boston, MA

Stephan Ross
Founder, The New England Holocaust Memorial
Boston, Massachusetts

The effort to build the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA began with Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross, who was imprisoned at the age of nine and whose parents, one brother and five sisters were murdered by the Nazis. Between 1940 and 1945 Mr. Ross survived 10 different concentration camps and was liberated from Dachau Camp by American troops at the age of 14. At the age of 16, he was brought to the United States in 1948 under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for Orphaned Children. He was illiterate having had minimal education prior to the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939. Over the years, he managed to earn three college degrees and made a new life in the Boston area. Mr. Ross is a licensed psychologist and has worked for the City of Boston for over 40 years providing guidance and clinical services to inner-city under privileged youth and families. He eventually achieved the level of Senior Staff Psychologist.

With the encouragement of his colleagues, Mr. Ross was able to obtain the necessary community support to make his dream of remembering the millions of Holocaust victims a reality. The New England Holocaust Memorial features six luminous glass towers, each reaching 54 feet high, and each lit internally from top to bottom. Six million numbers are etched in the glass. These numbers represent the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and are suggestive of the infamous tattoos the Nazis inflicted on many of the victims. Community service is an important part of Mr. Ross’ daily life. At 78 years of age, he still commits at least one day a week to the Street Worker Program in Boston, a network of neighborhood-based organizations that help at-risk youth and their families gain access to a wide array of health and social services.

   

Kawther Elmi 

April 21, 2010
Washington, DC

Kawther Elmi
Park Ranger, National Park Service
Washington, District of Columbia

Kawther Elmi was born in Ethiopia, but was raised in Somalia. She was granted political asylum to live in the United States in 1989. The pursuit of freedom and education were the primary motivating factors behind Ms. Elmi’s decision to leave East Africa and make a new life for herself in America. Since the beginning of her journey, she has received a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and a Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York in Albany, NY. Ms. Elmi began working with the National Park Service in 2000 and through her work as a Park Ranger at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Ms. Elmi regularly speaks to visitors about Abraham Lincoln’s contributions to the United States. She credits him for the freedoms and opportunities she has been afforded and are offered to all those who are new to the United States. She says it is her hope that one day the world will adopt Lincoln’s wisdom so everyone will have the freedom and opportunities she has found in America.

Ms. Elmi has volunteered with Catholic Charities to assist refugee families settle in the United States and will continue her volunteer work to help improve the lives of those around her.

   

Ledum_Ndaanee

April 23, 2010
Washington, DC

Sergeant Ledum Ndaanee
U.S. Marine Corps
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Sgt. Ledum Ndaanee was born in Nigeria on May 2, 1982. At the age of 16, he moved to the United States with his family, settling in Richmond, VA. After attending a local community college, Sgt. Ndaanee had his heart set on serving his new country by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. He enlisted in September 2004. Sgt. Ndaanee deployed to Iraq on two separate occasions with the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On August 4, 2007, while assigned as a turret gunner conducting combat operations, he suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury as the result of an improvised explosive device.

While recovering from his injuries at Wounded Warrior Battalion-East in Camp Lejeune, NC, Sgt. Ndaanee played a vital role in the recovery process of his fellow Marines and Sailors. He was instrumental in encouraging others to overcome their injuries by serving as a mentor. After recovering from his wounds, Sgt. Ndaanee achieved an important milestone in his life by becoming a U.S. citizen in November 2007. Sgt. Ndaanee is currently serving as the non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning (WAR) Program's Strength and Conditioning Team and is also a member of the aquatics team within Wounded Warrior Battalion-East. Over the course of his military career, Sgt. Ndaanee has been recognized with several honors including the Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

   

Tibor Rubin

July 2, 2010
San Diego, CA

Corporal Tibor "Ted" Rubin (Retired)
U.S. Army, Medal of Honor Recipient
Garden City, California

Tibor “Ted” Rubin was born in Paszto, Hungary and was one of six children born to a shoemaker in a village of 120 Jewish families.  During the Nazi campaign to wipe out Hungary’s Jewish population, the 13-year-old Rubin was separated from his parents and siblings and transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.  His parents and two sisters perished in other camps. After 14 months at Mauthausen, Rubin was liberated by American troops.  He later came to the United States in 1948 as a 19 year old and enlisted in the U.S. Army. 

During the Korean War, while his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Cpl. Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by withdrawing American forces. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Cpl. Rubin.  Single-handedly for 24 hours, he fought off wave after wave of enemy soldiers. During the war, he was also captured by the Chinese who offered to let Cpl. Rubin return to his native Hungary, but he chose to remain in the prison camp instead. Cpl. Rubin used what he had learned as a Holocaust survivor to aid his fellow comrades, stealing food and nursing his fellow wounded soldiers. In September 2005, President Bush presented the 76-year-old Rubin with the Medal of Honor for the many sacrifices he made.

   

Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis

September 14, 2010
Boston, MA

Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis
Director, International Human Rights Policy, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis has worked with a vast network of civil society and government organizations to develop innovative women’s rights and human rights initiatives around the world including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, Georgia, Russia and Egypt. Her work is focused on using international human rights norms to guide law reform initiatives. She is an Advisory Group member of the Secretariat for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and has led many initiatives on disability law reform and conducted training at the United Nations on a human rights based approach to the CRPD. She also advises the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) law reform initiatives. She has published widely on gender and law reform in United Nations publications and law review journals.

Dr. de Silva de Alwis has a doctorate in law from Harvard Law School and has been a Teaching Fellow with the European Law Research Institute at Harvard Law School and a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

   

Patrick Corvington

September 22, 2010
Washington, DC

Patrick Corvington
CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service
Baltimore, Maryland

Patrick Corvington is a recognized expert on non-profit sector leadership and capacity issues, new and emerging philanthropy, and volunteerism. Mr. Corvington was sworn in as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) on February 18, 2010. The mission of the CNCS is to "support the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility." While a government agency, the Corporation acts much like a foundation, and it is the nation’s largest grant maker supporting service and volunteering. Prior to joining the Corporation, Mr. Corvington served at the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a Senior Associate responsible for guiding the foundation’s grantees on issues related to leadership development, next generation leadership, and capacity building.

Mr. Corvington, who is of Haitian descent, immigrated to the United States as a teenager and became an American citizen in 1993. He worked his way through college, earning a degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a graduate degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, where he received the National Minority Leadership Fellowship from the Kellogg Foundation.

   

Brigadier General Oscar Bautista Hilman (Retired)

November 10, 2010
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA

Brigadier General Oscar Bautista Hilman (Retired)
United States Army
Tacoma, Washington

Brigadier General Oscar Bautista Hilman was born in the Philippines. He is a graduate of the Philippine College of Criminology, Central Washington University, and the United States Army War College where he received a graduate degree in Strategic Science. He joined the United States Army in 1969 and retired as Deputy Commanding General, I Corps at Fort Lewis, Washington. At Fort Lewis, he was responsible for managing resources valued at over $2 billion and providing operational management for 30,700 soldiers; 7,900 civilian employees; 33,000 family members; and 50,000 retirees. General Hilman also served as Commander of a Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2002 to 2005 where he led and employed 3,650 soldiers and airmen. Prior to that, he served as the Federal Oversight Director for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, VA.

General Hilman’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and numerous federal and state awards. General Hilman resides in Tacoma, WA with his wife Patty. He is a member of the Filipino Veterans Coalition, Disabled American Veterans, and President of the Filipino Community Alliance.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/22/2011