In celebration of Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership’s 25th anniversary this year, we will be featuring profiles of notable CAPAL alumni. This month, CAPAL is proud to feature Vincent Fang, 2013 graduate of CAPAL’s Public Service Scholarship Program.
As the clock neared midnight, I looked over my two writing samples, quadruple-checked my resume for any formatting errors, and made sure my personal information was correct. I closed my eyes and click. It was sent. I officially submitted my application to the White House Internship Program.
The months ahead were a whirlwind of suspense and success. I waited. I interviewed with someone calling from a blocked number. I waited…and waited. When I finally received a notice in March informing me that I was conditionally accepted to the program, I was relieved – until I realized I could not afford to live in Washington, D.C. without a paying job.
I quickly went onto the CAPAL website, hoping that I didn’t miss the deadline to apply for the scholarship program. I was heartened to see that, not only was I still eligible to apply, it was the perfect program for me!
Coming from a working class, immigrant family in New York City, public service is not something my family ever mentions as a career path. Becoming a doctor or an engineer is preferred. Being a lawyer or even a businessman isn’t bad either. But working in government never crosses their mind.
It wasn’t until I started volunteering within the local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community did I see how much government policies affected my life. From the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to public education, I benefited from my local, state, and federal governments. Suddenly, I noticed the impact government assistance has on the AAPI communities in New York. It provided subsidized housing to the elderly, loans for burgeoning small businesses, and grants to community servicing organizations. In order to give back to the community I had gained so much from, I knew I wanted to explore a career in public service.
The CAPAL Public Service Scholarship allowed me to explore this path despite my family’s financial constraints. However, when I immersed myself into its various programs, the experience evolved into something more than just funding. The CAPAL Board and staff provided an environment for the CAPAL interns to develop deep and lasting friendships. The Washington Leadership Program provided us a glimpse of the AAPI perspective in various political issues, and CAPAL’s APA Roundtables offered the opportunity to speak to high-leveled AAPI government officials in an intimate setting.
The CAPAL Public Service Scholarship’s best-kept secret is in the last line of the description: “CAPAL will also mentor scholars.” CAPAL tapped into its vast network in Washington, D.C. and paired me with the perfect mentor to guide me towards my aspirations. In fact, I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance.
The past summer as a CAPAL Scholar was unforgettable. My internship at the White House challenged me, honed my skills, and certified my call to public service. The financial and emotional support from CAPAL was crucial to my experience as an intern in Washington, D.C.
I encourage anyone thinking of interning in D.C. for the summer to apply to the CAPAL Federal Internship and Public Service Scholarship Program. For more information about CAPAL’s programs and how to apply, visit the CAPAL website here. The deadline is March 7; don’t miss it!
Vincent Fang is the Press Assistant for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). With the support of CAPAL, he was an Outreach and Communications Intern with the White House Office of Public Engagement in the summer. As a native New Yorker, Vincent is a die-hard fan of the Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and Junior’s Cheesecake. Vincent graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a B.A. in Political Science and Policy Studies in May of 2013.