Ava Van, recipient of Seattle Pacific University’s 125 Graduates of the Last Decade award. Photo from Ava Van Photography website.

Ava Van was 3 years old when she was adopted by her grandparents and lived through welfare and food stamps. Her mother was unable to take care of her after she separated with Van’s father, who left her when she was nine. When Ava was 18, her grandfather passed away from his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Today at the age of 26, Ava is named “125 Graduates of the Last Decade” by Seattle Pacific University (SPU), where she along with 125 other outstanding alumni are recognized for their accomplishments and embodiment of SPU, “engaging the culture and changing the world.” She will accept the award at the Grand Reunion on October 7.

Ava currently works for the City of Renton Executive Department as the Communications Specialist. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in journalism. She launched Ava Van Photography at the age of 20, with the help of a college mentor. After graduation, Ava dedicated her time volunteering at an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She adopted six kids who all call her “mom.” Ava also currently mentors three students in communications, journalism and photography.

Ava says her next big humanitarian project is to start the Ava Van Scholarship. Like the many people who invested in her dreams, her plan is to empower disadvantaged students like her at Lindbergh High School, where she graduated in 2008.

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