Why SASE is more than just a job

Yes, I am the full time paid Executive Director of SASE (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers), but SASE is more than just a job to me. SASE’s mission is part of my personal mission: to help others. Before it was a “job”, it was a passion.

One of my earliest clear memories was from 2nd grade where I was asked to help translate between a newly arrived 1st grader and the school staff since there were very few Vietnamese in Denver at the time (late 70’s). Not that I, as a 2nd grader, was that fluent in either language, but the kid was crying his eyes out and the school staff couldn’t understand. I was able to let the school to know that he want to go home to his parents and I was able to talk to him and get to him to calm down enough to return to his class. I still feel a sense of joy when I think of this moment.

Going to a 90%+ white college was a shock to me. I grew up in an urban school with busing, so we had students from across town and the population was ethnically mixed. I was missing the diversity so I spent many hours at the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP). MEP led to my re-discovery of my Asian roots and paved the way to being part of the founding group for Asian Student Association (ASA).

Thirteen years later, I came back as the director of the MEP program. The other MEP organizations were under their respective professional and national organization. ASA was still a local club. The ASA leaders and I decided to rebrand ASA to PASES (Professional Asian Society of Engineers and Scientists) and grow PASES to other campuses. In 2010, we learned about SASE and decided to join forces since our missions were similar. Even though the name PASES went away, the mission still spoke to me, so I started volunteering for SASE. After the 2011 National Conference, I became the Executive Director…paid staff of 1.

From all these bread crumbs of my life experience, I found my passion for helping others particularly younger folks in our community. I never imagined that during this journey, I would be where I am. Looking back, it makes total sense that I should be where I am. SASE really is a personal passion that had its starting ingredients when I first came to Denver. When I serve and give of my time, my actions may help others for just that moment or perhaps have a longer impact, but I know for sure that I am infinitely impacted because I served.

Thank you to SASE members who give your time and energy to further SASE’s third pillar of service. You inspire me!!!

#SASEserves #IVolunteer

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