Earlier this week, Dr. Thomas Shieh officially opened nominations for the 2020 Shieh Su Ying Scholar Athlete awards. Garnering nominations from across the gambit, from students slated to attend the University of Guam through the Ivy League, the Shieh Awards, named after his grandmother, recognize the island’s best and brightest student-athletes

Nomination forms are online.

Eligible students must have a minimum 3.4 GPA or an 84 based on a 100-point grading system. All nominees must plan on attending an accredited U.S. college or university in the fall and must not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, said Shieh.

With the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic and looming uncertainty, an optimistic Shieh feels that this year’s event takes on a new meaning.

“This will be the year where many of the graduates will never forget because of what they’re going through,” Shieh said. “I believe this life-changing event will make their future much brighter.

“They will appreciate humanity and not take the little things in life for granted. If this Shieh Scholar Athletes program can help and show them adversity, then we will continue it on.”

Shieh said, so far, he has received more than 15 nominations.

And, with a $2,000 scholarship awarded to the male and female Athlete of the Year, he is expecting many more nominations.

Along with the application, nominations must include a sealed transcript, a photograph, and two letters of recommendation attesting to a student-athlete’s athletic, academic, community service, and leadership contributions.

With social distancing in effect, Shieh said schools can email transcripts.

Nominations, which close May 1, must be emailed to doctorshieh@yahoo.com. As part of the application process, Shieh, personally, will interview nominee.

Shieh, a stickler for detail, will narrow the selection process with a one-on-one interview.

“Once I narrow down the finalists, that’s when the interview starts via Skype or Zoom,” Shieh said. “What I am looking for is honesty, integrity, and social promise.”

In past Shieh Award ceremonies, a cut above, Ivy-leagures were selected for the honor.

In 2017, former Guam High School Panthers basketball player RJ Kranz was selected as the top male athlete. Kranz, who is majoring in statistics and data science at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, remembers the award fondly.

"To even be considered for the Shieh scholar-athlete award was a great honor, especially in light of the accomplishments of all of the others who were nominated, so to have won it meant a lot to me,” said Kranz, who plays shooting guard on the Yale Bulldogs' club team.

Matias Calvo, a 2019 Shieh winner, is a former Father Duenas Memorial School Friars valedictorian and plays on the Dartmouth College men's rugby team in Hanover, New Hampshire.

With schools closed due to the virus and fourth-quarter sports canceled, Calvo agrees with Shieh that the awards take on an added significance.

"I think that the Shieh Awards do take on a special meaning because they motivate seniors who may not have a senior season or whose graduation may not happen,” Calvo said.

Shania Bulala, the pride of UOG

For Shania Bulala, a former Okkodo High School Bulldogs multi-sport athlete who won the award in 2017, Shieh’s prizes have been a blessing. As a winner, she received $2,000, an iPad, and a MacBook computer. And with of her classes transferred online, the hardware has carried her through these difficult times.

“I’m extremely grateful that I won the award,” said Bulala, who plans on graduating Spring 2021 with a double major in history and political science. “It helped in so many ways.

“Some of the prizes that I received from the scholarship was a laptop, iPad and the $2,000 check. Since winning the scholarship I’ve been blessed to have reliable outlets to effectively do homework using the laptop and iPad received.

“The things that I was able to receive from the Shieh scholarship are more important to me now more than ever. Using technology is the only way I’m able to participate in my classes. Also, to mention, it’s is a great laptop. No doubt, winning the Shieh scholarship is a huge blessing for me.”