Here’s something you might not know: President Barack Obama’s mother graduated from Mercer Island High School. Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is in town this weekend to present a scholarship established in their mother’s memory.
Soetoro-Ng told KPLU that she's not apolitical, necessarily, but she says when it comes to her relationship with her brother, President Obama, she prefers to focus on the family side of the equation.
“I’m not like a Kennedy sibling," she told KPLU. "I try to offer a little bit of a sanctuary for him, a space where he can simply be a brother or an uncle.”
Soetoro-Ng says her brother has his very big way of being involved politically, and she has her ways, too, through grassroots efforts, like the nonprofit she started called Ceeds of Peace, which works to get youth involved in their communities. She also teaches peace studies at the University of Hawai’i. Her work in academia has her following in her mother’s footsteps, to some extent.
“We both have, through whatever means, found the courage to find meaningful lives through serving others, and being part of communities both near and far," Soetoro-Ng said.
Ann Dunham, or Stanley Ann Dunham as she was known in her youth, was a member of the Mercer Island High School Class of 1960. She went on to become an anthropologist, doing research around the world.
“You know, my mom loved Mercer Island, and loved Seattle, and always told me I would love it too," Soetoro-Ng said. She's been here before -- including earlier visits to support the scholarship fund.
Dunham died in 1995. About seven years ago, a scholarship was established in her name by classmates from Mercer Island. Soetoro-Ng will present $5,000 from the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund, to a graduating senior woman from Mercer Island High School, during a ceremony on Saturday.