Kate Liu, Sales & Advertising Intern
Gina Groesbeck, Sales & Marketing Intern
Lights, cameras and scripts make up some of the elements of acting. While some people want to stay behind the scenes, others want to shine center staged. Parry Shen found his passion for acting late in his academic career but is living out his dreams today.
Asian and Asian American actors are often overlooked and not given the same opportunities in the acting field. However, in recent years, producers are starting to recognize talents amongst Asian minorities, like Parry Shen, and bringing their talents to the spotlight.
What do you think is the most important soft skill or leadership skill that you’ve developed and want to instill in the next generation?
Leading by example without cynicism and with enthusiasm has been what works for me over my 20 year career. I’ve found that it covers the widest range of the varying personalities in the workforce. Those who are on the same page as I am, they’re excited that they found someone that works just as hard as they do and are excited that they found that partner in crime in trying to find solutions and work together. I’ve been in workplaces where people bond and think it’s funny by being cynical and rolling their eyes, but it’s just unhealthy. What makes cynicism so damaging to a team environment is that it’s so subversive. It’s not outright being said-it’s sneaky and doesn’t create a good situation. Just leading by example, being excited, and being here because you want to be here, is contagious....
Cindy Le, Content Marketing Intern
As an intern for ASA and a student at Illinois State University (ISU), I am always looking for an opportunity to be a part of discussions that cultivate open-mindedness and give a voice to people of color. ISU promotes community and acceptance among their students. However, despite the strides made by the university, there are still issues of microaggression towards minorities.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, ISU hosted a two-day conference regarding issues related to racism. The Social, Ethnic, and Racial Boundaries on Campus and Community in the 21st Century: Microaggressions in Everyday Life included discussions about underrepresented students within higher education.
Emeritus Professor of History, Lou Perez moderated the discussion on how ISU can create a positive campus climate for all students. Perez introduced speakers, Co-director of African-American Studies, and Associate Professor of Social Work, Doris Houston and Director of Honors program, Rocío Rivadeneyra. Also involved in the discussion was a multicultural student panel.
Houston began the discussion by defining microaggressions. Microaggressions are repeated comments and assumptions about one’s character based on an individual’s race, ethnicity, or gender identity. Microaggressions can lead to consequences to the victim, such as poor mental health and academic underachievement.
On a campus where most students are Caucasian, minority ISU students often feel marginalized and isolated. “The Diversity Advocacy program on campus doesn’t really emphasize the issues.” ISU senior of the student panel, Daijha White said.
When I first arrived at ISU, I had major culture shock. I grew up in Chicago where all of my friends were people of color. At ISU, I had felt like a minority for the first time in my life.
White often finds herself being the only African American student in her classes. Some ISU students still feel they lack campus support, especially after the 2016 presidential election.
After establishing these issues, Rivadeneyra steered the discussion toward possible solutions. Rivadeneyra proposed a class that talked about diversity in the U.S. Teachers and students would discuss the experiences of minorities and how to deal with microaggressiosn in everyday life.This class would be a graduation requirement for all students in hopes to close those boundaries between races and gender.
The student panel was positive towards this idea and added feedback on how to make the class as inclusive as possible.
“This class should be tailored to the student’s major and teach how to deal with diversity within their major,” ISU senior Bryce Thomas said.
A class that brought attention to microaggressions would be a step to breaking down barriers that hold students back. I have always felt that there are too many general education courses that overlap. If ISU could replace excess classes with classes that focused on interacting with others in a professional setting and promoted diversity, it could help students of all backgrounds rise up.
This is the exact reason Asian Student Achievement was created. We strive to equip students with the skills necessary to handle microaggression in professional and social settings. Our CEO, Shane Carlin, has led many workshops discussing microaggression and how to succeed in Western work culture. Carlin created ASA to break through the ceiling that holds down women and minorities. And the reason why I joined the ASA team was to bring that mission to ISU.
Houston then asked the student panel how faculty can help to combat microaggressions in their classrooms.
ISU senior Jason Hale said, “Faculty tends to associate how the media [negatively] displays African Americans with the black students in their class. They need to unlearn those associations. Otherwise, they should not be teaching the class.”
White agreed and said, “It is not our job to teach you. If they can’t identify with our struggles, I don’t want to have them teaching me.”
The audience was allowed to ask questions to the speakers and the student panel. One audience member expressed concern that a required class could further marginalize students.
Rivadeneyra responded, “[This class would] make sure everyone’s being heard; not talking about it makes it worse.”
Thomas added, “This should be instituted everywhere. It should not just be a higher education privilege.”
In my elementary and high school experience, my teachers always emphasized diversity and how lucky we are to be surrounded by different cultures. They were proud to teach students of color and condemned the rest of Illinois for not being open-minded.
After awhile, I forgot that many other schools in the U.S. didn’t have that experience. I never understood why racism was a real problem in other places when millions of people in the U.S. are immigrants. But I realized, after coming to ISU, most schools in Illinois, outside of Chicago, people of color were actually minorities.
I understand why some future educators would never want to teach in an area where residents may not welcoming of other races or choose to be ignorant about the experiences people of color go through. But it is not just a teacher’s job to teach students about the math, science or writing, but to also teach morality and how to respectfully interact with others.
This kind of class should be implemented in ALL areas, even in schools like mine where diversity is already valued. I’m proud that ISU is taking that initiative to add a course that will promote diversity and breaking down those barriers that divide us. I hope that ISU will improve their curriculum and that other educational institutions follow suit.
Hale offers advice for underclassmen and underclasswomen at ISU: “Never let your voice be silenced, even if you’re the only person of color in the class. Speak the truth.”
Cindy is the current content marketing intern for Asian Student Achievement and a junior studying Mass Media at Illinois State University.
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Kate Liu, Sales & Advertising Intern
For student Michael Nguyen, college was a place to grow not only intellectually but also professionally. But like many of his fellow students, he spent significant time deciding how to align his passion for entrepreneurship, mentorship, and advocacy on behalf of Asian and Asian American students. While serving as treasurer for the 2012 Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU) Conference, Michael and Shane Carlin shared their first experience working together. At the time, Shane was serving on the board of advisors for MAASU and would later become Michael’s mentor, friend, and business partner.
Building mentoring relationships like this became inspiration for Shane to start his own company, Asian Student Achievement (ASA), a vision he had aspired to fulfill in order to coach individuals with the same level of guidance he provided to Michael. Having mentored many college students and young professionals since 1995, Shane had too often experienced the professional needs of Asian and Asian American students go unaddressed. Wanting to bolster the number of Asian and Asian American candidates through the pipeline for leadership, Shane founded our company to arm students and early professionals with useful skills, such as professional networking, branding oneself, and job interviewing.
We were built on the foundations of East-meets-West culture and aim to become our community’s main ladder and professional resource through interactive workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions. We cover a broad range of topics designed with the individual’s personal goals and cultural upbringing in mind -- Shane himself is a Korean-American adoptee.
In developing these services and offerings, ASA has been able to reach universities and organizations across the nation, hosting workshops and speaking engagements for organizations including Miami University, UniPro (Pilipino American Unity for Progress), ITASA (Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association), and FACT (Filipino Americans Coming Together).
Our workshop at Miami University this past fall was ASA’s second year partnering with the Asian American Association (AAA) and the International Student Advisory Council (ISAC) on campus. After featuring an interactive networking workshop in 2016, ASA and Miami decided to host a professionalism and etiquette dinner. Our event focused on professional dining, workplace diversity, and networking, while incorporating a lively dinner with students of the two organizations for a night of discussion and fun.
One of our international students from Thailand, Hathaipat Arayangkul, participated in a customized workshop held between ASA and the executive board of Asian American Association. “After participating in Shane’s workshop, I learned more about myself and my executive team members. Now knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I want to improve my weaknesses while at the same time improve on my strengths to become a better me when working with my Asian American Association executive team.”
"After participating in Shane’s workshop, I learned more about myself and my executive team members. Now knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I want to improve my weaknesses while at the same time improve on my strengths to become a better me"
Launching a diversity-driven Job Board
Hearing praise and critique from many different students has helped to innovate our business. As our team is always looking to equip the next generation of Asian and Asian American professionals with the means they need to succeed, we recently launched our own Job Board. Through this platform, we focus on connecting our job seekers with diversity-driven employers.
Our Job Board remains one of the few in the US specializing in Asian and Asian Americans and connected to coaching, ensuring that job seekers who we’ve personally coached are the same individuals who have created profiles on our Job Board. “In other professional social platforms and job boards, the pool of people is very general and it’s hard to find who you want,” said student Michelle Lee, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “But being able to show that there are Asian leaders present in our general public, it’d be great for job seekers and recruiters to be able to have one place where it’s easy to distinguish who is the best of the best."
After graduating, ASA students continue to apply the skills and perspectives they gained from ASA events. University of Illinois graduate and engineer DJ Mascarenas reflected on our growth as seen through his numerous photographs he’s taken at our events: “Having had Shane as a mentor in the past, I can personally attest to the immense value of his professional experience, networking prowess, and keen personal insight [through ASA]....I look forward to seeing how they grow and what impact they will have on the next generation of professionals.”
Got an idea for an event or partnership? Just want to share an ASA-related thought or story?
Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to post or message us on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Kate is the current Sales & Advertising intern for Asian Student Achievement and a sophomore studying Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.