Congratulations to the 2013 AAWA Scholarship and AAWA Recognition Award Recipients. These recipients were honored at our annual banquet on April 20, 2014 at the Santa Clara Hilton Hotel.
2013 AAWA Scholarship Award Recipients
Sue Thao Do
From the moment she entered the world eight weeks short of her expected due date, Sue Do’s life was filled with overwhelming and heart-wrenching obstacles. Her lungs, in an effort to gasp for essential air, were worthless. The cerebellum apparently had been damaged, and would predict later seizures. It was only the beginning of time, years, trials, failures, and suffering joined together to form a plenteous package of adversity that taught her so much about living to the fullest. These challenges of being immobile, having seizures, and surgeries shape Sue’s character and enable her to conquer any challenge that comes her way. Her hardships made her the person she is today.
Sue was required to wear bulky orthopedic braces and walk with a steel walker. These things obviously gave away the fact that she was handicapped. In spite of the pain and fatigue, she finally surpasses her obstacles, after multiple operations on her ankles at ages 10 and 12. At tough moments, she kept her positive spirits. Giving up was not an option. Perseverance became her companion through difficulties. It is invisible, hidden in secrecy, and can only be uncovered through steadfast dedication in the face of wrenching fear. These experiences were not easy to overcome, but as time went by they became her motives to test her own potential. Sue owes the encouragements and the mentoring to her parents, grandparents, friends who believe in the possible, and teachers who foresee the opportunities that lay ahead. Today she wears her scars with pride, walks without the steel walker, her seizures are gone, and she is thankful for many blessings. Sue is determined to use her voice to speak for those oppressed by society.
Jennifer Phang is a San Francisco based film and media maker with more than ten years of experience. Her award-winning feature film HALF-LIFE premiered at 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by the Sundance Channel and Warner Brothers Digital Platforms. Jennifer was then invited into the Sundance Screenwriting Labs to develop her next project, LOOK FOR WATER, a play adaptation. In 2011 Jennifer created the short film ADVANTAGEOUS, an ITVS commissioned project, starring Jacqueline Kim and James Urbaniak, concerning the future of American education and its impact on the social and economic future of women and girls in the United States.
ADVANTAGEOUS was launched on Futurestates.tv and PBS.org, and was then screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Comic-Con, Fantastic Fest, Asiana Film Festival, CAAMFest, Los Angeles Asian Pacific and numerous other national and international film festivals. It has been nominated for and won several of the festivals’ top awards.
In Fall 2012, Jennifer was selected to be a resident at the prestigious San Francisco Film Society FilmHouse program in support of her current undertaking, adapting ADVANTAGEOUS into a full-length feature film. A Berkeley-born daughter of a Chinese-Malaysian father and Vietnamese mother, Jennifer Phang is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at the American Film Institute and holds a BA in Media Studies from Pomona College. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and a certified scuba diver.
Angela Wang is a first generation Chinese American born and raised in the Bay Area. As a young girl, Angela quickly learned to appreciate her cultural and ethnic background. She started taking traditional Chinese dance at the tender age of 5, won second place at her first Chinese calligraphy competition at the age of 7 and routinely published articles in the children’s section of the Chinese newspaper World Journal. During the summer of her freshman year in high school, Angela attended the World Expo in Shanghai where she sweat, ate popsicles and waited in line with thousands of other Chinese. Her proudest moment as an Asian American was when she wrote a first-place essay about that experience for a competition hosted by the Beijing Chinese Children’s Culture and Education Exchange Association.
In high school, Angela has enjoyed writing for her school’s nationally recognized newspaper El Estoque, developing her passions in business through the organization Future Business Leaders of America, and fostering the love of knowledge in other students by tutoring mathematics. In her free time, Angela plays the piano, reads novels and bakes sweets for her family and friends. She hopes to study finance and East Asian studies when she attends Columbia University in the City of New York this fall.
Emily Wong is currently a high school senior at Monta Vista High school in Cupertino, California. She is a first generation Asian American, the daughter of Winnie Ho, a single mother immigrant from Hong Kong. At school she is a committed ASB Leadership Executive officer, having been in the Leadership program for four years, where she now serves as the Monta Vista Intra-District Representative for the FUHSD school district.
She is also a dedicated member of the student-run business organization, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), which has helped cultivate her aspirations in becoming a successful and well-rounded businesswoman. In FBLA she has competed and won multiple Local, State and National business awards in Parliamentary Procedure, Hospitality Management, and Network Design.
In her spare time she enjoys singing, snowboarding, and hiking. She would like to thank her friends and family, especially her mother and Kevin, in supporting her to the fullest for the past 18 years. Emily would also like to thank the Asian American Women’s Alliance in its generosity and granting this scholarship towards helping her pursue her career oriented goals.
2013 AAWA Recognition Award Recipients
Huy Tran serves as Deputy Director of Aeronautics at NASA Ames Research Center and manages over $160M annual budget to support NASA and DOD research to benefit the public and national security. In 1980, Huy immigrated from Vietnam – the Boat People, spent a year in the refugee camp in Indonesia and then arrived in the US. She began her career at NASA while at San Jose State University. She joined the NASA Senior Executive Services rank in 2010, the first winner of the NASA Government Invention of the Year at NASA Ames, and the Western Federal Laboratory. She is internationally recognized as an expert on advanced entry systems and thermal protection materials, contributing in all Mars missions since Viking including the latest successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft. She is lead inventor of the Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) heat shield material that achieved many firsts in space exploration – returning the first ever sample from the Wild-2 comet , commercial cargo return vehicle – the Space X Dragon capsule, and Mars largest aeroshell. She has received three NASA medals of achievement including the Exceptional Engineering Achievement and holds three patents, and has been widely published. She mentors minority women and students. Huy earned a B.S. in materials engineering and a M.S. in mechanical engineering from San Jose State University.
Nga Vu is a Sr. Software Engineering Manager at Cisco Systems. She has over 25 years’ experiences in the computer and communication industry with broad experience in high growth technology markets. In her current role, she manages an elite engineering system test group whose responsibility is to validate network solutions for Cisco large enterprise customers such as Wal-Mart, Citigroup, and GE. Her departmental goal is to accelerate Cisco customer’s deployment. Besides her fun, hot, and challenging day job, Nga’s passion is to provide support to others and help them bring out their fullest potential.
She co-started the Cisco’s Women Action Network (WAN), which is now in their sixth successful year and has grown to nearly 1, 000 members across the globe. WAN recognizes women’s contributions, develops their potential, and leverages their strengths at all levels of the organization. She co-started the Cisco’s Asian Affinity Network (CAAN), which kicked off in 2005. In 4 years, the network has grown from 15 members to 700 members. CAAN’s focus is to inspire success and create opportunities for Cisco Pacific Rim Asian employee.
Mrs. Vu has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Oregon, was CCIE certified in 1993. She’s married with 3 kids and enjoys gardening, reading, photography, video games and all kinds of sports.
The Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS)
The Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) is a non-profit organization for professionals in the biopharmaceutical industry, headquartered in San Francisco, California. CABS has over 2,000 members and participants, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in other parts of the U.S. and in the Pacific Rim countries including China. The majority of CABS members are scientists in biopharmaceutical companies, universities and research institutions, and there is also a strong presence of professionals from legal, finance and venture capital fields that are focused on life sciences. Three quarters of CABS members have a doctorate degree and approximately half of the members hold leadership and management positions in the biopharmaceutical industry. The main mission of CABS is to serve biopharmaceutical professionals of Chinese heritage or with professional interests in China, and promote professional interactions; to promote public awareness of progress and development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry; and to collaborate with other organizations in areas of mutual interest.
Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) has been a role model and advocate for the advancement of Asian American women. There is a strong presence of Asian American women in CABS’s leadership team. Near 40% of CABS’s past presidents are Asian American women.
The Cisco Asian Affinity Network (CAAN)
The Cisco Asian Affinity Network (CAAN) is a volunteer organization with a vision of establishing “Cisco As the Best Place to Work for Asians” through development of talent, connecting people and opportunities, and inspiring our community. We have 1400 members which represents 60% of the Asian Pacific employee base.
To help develop the leadership skills in our community, CAAN has created an on-going schedule of Roundtable events comprised of seminars, cohort group discussions and general networking. Every Roundtable event focuses on a topic that is relevant to CAAN members today (e.g., how to leverage and complement Asian stereotypes in the workplace) and the session is immediately followed by a cohort group discussion that is facilitated by CAAN leaders and executives. These cohort discussions overlays the Pacific Rim Asian culture on top of the theme and enables discussion on what it means for Asians. There have been 5 major Roundtable events over the past 18 months and the feedback has been tremendously positive. In addition, CAAN has provided support to members who were impacted by last year’s layoff. We provided career counseling, connections with hiring managers and advice on resumes and interviewing.
CAAN also provides its members an opportunity to engage in business development through two efforts – presenting to customers or providing translation when customers visit Cisco and producing video data sheets in local Asian languages for new products. This initiative has been instrumental and highly successful in facilitating, developing, and enhancing business relationships and provided Asian employees with additional visibility and networking opportunities.