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During my 1990 summer internship at the Washington Center I was introduced to CAPAL and joined in on the many summer activities hosted with founding members Chantale Wong, Daphne Kwok, Lin Liu, Melinda Yee and Paul Igasaki. These individuals and many others shaped my college development and made me think twice about what was important to me, my family and society.

CAPAL challenged me to understand how public service works in our nation’s capital, locally at the state level and ultimately each citizen. I learned that certain skills are transferable to many situations demanding leadership in both the private and public sector. I also saw the interdependence of our government working with the private and public sector.

After my DC summer I took my campus activities in a new direction and I found myself more involved with inter-collegiate organizations. Eventually, I was the first elected Chairman of the Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU). Working with MAASU’s founder and first Executive Director, Charles Chang, we established a cycle of leadership, training, and activities that have endured to this day. MAASU hosts a leadership retreat in the fall and then student conference in the spring conference at its member colleges and universities. There are many workshops for students to learn more about the multi-faceted issues facing Asian Americans.

At the spring conference there is also the renewal of leadership with new officers elected along with continuity through an executive director. In essence, I copied some of the elements of the DC model of public organizations and brought it to inter-collegiate student organizations. Through the skills and knowledge I gathered in college and in particular in my summer at DC with CAPAL, I was able to lead MAASU to become the enduring student organization that is bigger and better than ever. I am proud of this legacy that was formed in part through my CAPAL experience under the leadership of the Founding Charter Members of CAPAL. CAPAL and MAASU have a shared history together. For example, Christine Chen was an officer and director of MAASU and also became a CAPAL director in 2001.

CAPAL has grown tremendously since my initial involvement. In the early 1990s, CAPAL was nascent. By the late 1990s I coordinated a gift of IRA assets from a deceased college friend who was a part of MAASU. His IRA funded one of the earliest scholarships between MAASU and CAPAL. The coordinated student recruiting scholarship between CAPAL and MAASU was novel. Today, CAPAL has multiple scholarships in addition to the MAASU-CAPAL scholarship and that shows how my involvement from 25 years ago continues to affect students and the CAPAL DC experience today.

I am a staunch supporter of merit scholarship, having benefited from similar ones during college. My college experiences shaped my life and continues to shape college students that are the lifeblood of causes in DC. Leadership in DC is a necessary structure for minorities and CAPAL not only provides structure but valuable leadership and training. As long as there is an AAPI community, groups like CAPAL serve a great purpose.

CAPAL offers me an opportunity to stay supportive and involved with issues and organizations that are meaningful to me. I continue to support CAPAL by providing funding to scholarships for MAASU students to experience DC as I did over 25 years ago as part of CAPAL’s scholarship and internship program.

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