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White House taps Pacific student as “ambassador” to Asian American youth

Dec 4, 2015

­Anne Wong, a doctoral student in University of the Pacific's Gladys L. Benerd School of Education, has been selected by the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders to serve as an ambassador to its E3! Ambassadors youth engagement program.

Wong, a first-generation college student and child of Chinese immigrants, is one of 23 young leaders chosen from across the nation to be part of the initiative's E3! Ambassadors 2015-16 class. Launched in 2014, the ambassador program aims to educate, engage and empower young leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.  

"I'm very passionate about helping AAPI students make a successful transition from college to career," she said.   

Wong applied for the ambassador program about the same time she was applying to the Educational and Organizational Leadership program at Pacific's Sacramento Campus. She was selected after an interview process and already has plans to present workshops at the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education national conference in April.  

One workshop will be directed to helping women higher education professionals and students juggle the demands of their professional and personal lives and help them find ways to create support systems to cope with career and life challenges.  

Wong said there is a great reluctance to talk about mental health issues in the Asian communities and her workshop would help bring these concerns into the open and let women know it's okay to talk about the challenges and pressures they face.  

The other workshop is geared to help student affairs professionals develop and raise awareness among their AAPI students about career preparation services and internships, she said.  

"Anne has a real passion for helping students navigate higher education to reach their own personal goals," said Rod Githens, assistant dean for Sacramento programs in the Benerd School of Education and Wong's doctoral advisor. "She has so much potential as a leader in higher education."  

She became aware of this need as she mentored classmates or recent graduates over the past few years. Many of those students' parents are immigrants who came to the United States and started small businesses, and never had to prepare a resume or undergo a job interview, she said. She also found that while many colleges had support services targeted to AAPI students, they were either unaware of the services or didn't feel comfortable accessing them on their own.  

E3 Ambassadors logoThe E3! Ambassadors will work throughout the year with the initiative's network of more than 250 federal officials across the country representing more than 44 agencies and sub-agencies on a broad range of issues affecting the AAPI community, including education, mental health, pathways to public service and immigration. At the end of the year, the ambassadors will make a presentation in Washington D.C. about the work they accomplished.  

Wong, who earned a bachelor's degree from Sacramento State University and a master's degree in higher education from Drexel University, is a program analyst at the California Department of Education. She plans to work in higher education public policy with a focus on Asian and Pacific Islanders in higher education.      

Read more about the White House E3! Ambassadors program>>

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