Presidential Perspective

ASIA’s head departs with her closing thoughts and advice. This piece also ran in the Spring 2009 issue.

It seems like yesterday I was in SummerStart, meeting with friends and working diligently on homework.  Some things may have changed, but most have stayed the same.  I still keep in contact with the friends I met on the first day, and all the friends I’ve made since who have helped Syracuse University feel like home.  I’ve grown a lot since I first stepped on campus – learning about Asian-American issues and the social constraints that society places on my friends, myself and the minority community at SU.  I want to say thank you to the seniors that I grew up with, the freshmen that offered a new perspective, and the administrators, mentors and faculty who helped me develop my thoughts and ideas into successful academic, professional and cultural events.

During the course of my presidency, I hoped to strengthen the Asian-American community through developing committees and celebrations, and providing career advice and mentorship.  Some examples include the 10-Year Remembrance of the Denny’s Incident, the development of Transnational Asian Studies Program committee, celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and general interest meetings on how to find mentors, build resumes and interview effectively.  ASIA has changed dramatically since my start.  As few as five e-board members grew to 13 and the general body membership increased from 30 students to more than 80.  I’m proud of the growing strength in the executive board and the growing efforts to build a stronger Asian-American community at SU.

My advice to those who want to be a part of the executive board, or just learn more about yourself, is the following: in all your future endeavors stay culturally aware, politically savvy and intellectually creative.  And, always remember to give back to the community through service activities.  Learning about the 1987 Vincent Chin Case and the 1997 Denny’s Incident is how I stayed culturally aware.  Voting in the past election and learning about the world economy, political history and civil rights issues have helped me become politically savvy.  Holding workshops and networking with the community has kept me intellectually creative.  I hope that I’ve helped you build a foundation whether it be talking with you, letting you know about an event, or introducing you to intelligent and inspirational people.  Now is the time for change and development – there is no better place than on a college campus.  Continue to use any resources that enable you to succeed, including ASIA’s resource guide, alumni and network of friends.

One final thought: Think about the future and imagine where you want to be in a semester, a year or even five years down the line.  Then, experience as much as you can – volunteer, try new things!  Most of all, take risks!

Keep the love strong,
Jennifer Zhao

Mechanical Engineering and Policy Studies
ASIA President 2008-2009

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